How to Write the Harvey Mudd Application Essays 2016-2017
Harvey Mudd College (HMC) is a small STEM-focused school in Claremont, California. HMC is one of the Claremont colleges, which means that students can supplement Harvey Mudd’s curriculum with classes at any of the other Claremont schools. Unlike most top STEM schools, HMC has no graduate programs, which allows its undergraduates to receive more personalized attention from faculty.
Harvey Mudd has a 14% acceptance rate — unsurprising, considering its excellent reputation amongst engineering-focused students. HMC’s supplement is writing-intensive, requiring two 500-word essays on top of the Common App’s 650-word essay.
Harvey Mudd College Application Essay Prompts
What influenced you to apply to Harvey Mudd College? What about the HMC curriculum and community appeals to you? Please limit your response to 500 words.
The first step to writing this essay is to look through Harvey Mudd’s website to see what stands out for you. Are you interested in the extremely focused curriculum and small student population? Does the school’s clinic program (intensive real-world engineering experience) appeal to you? If you already know the field you plan to major in, read up on HMC’s active areas of research and refer to one or two specific projects in your essay. If you haven’t chosen a specialty yet, discuss two or three departments whose research captures your curiosity.
You should also try to weave your own experiences and accomplishments into your response. If you’ve already done research at a local college or enjoyed substantial science fair success, mention that as a reason you’re looking forward to engaging in research at HMC. Instead of simply stating that you’re interested in engineering, talk about your exhilarating FIRST Robotics build season. This essay isn’t just about why you’re interested in Harvey Mudd; it’s about why Harvey Mudd should be interested in you.
You have a lot of space for this response, so you should include both academic and social reasons for your interest in the school. If you know a HMC alum or current student, you can briefly mention their influence on your decision, but the focus of your essay should be on your own plans and passions.
Choose Any One of the Essay Topics Below (500 Word Limit)
‘Scientific research is a human endeavor. The choices of topics that we research are based on our biases, our beliefs, and what we bring: our cultures and our families. The kinds of problems that people put their talents to solving depends on their values.’
– Dr. Clifton Poodry
How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve?
This is a great option for students who already have an intended major. Think of how your experiences informed your decision to study, say, math, and then think about what you hope to accomplish with math once you finish college. Once you’ve found a connection between your plans and background, you can start writing.
The connection can be direct (maybe you want to study biomedical engineering because you’ve experienced firsthand just how crude modern medicine can be) or abstract (perhaps your parents’ love of art galleries inspired you to write mathematical proofs for beauty rather than application).
If you aren’t yet sure what you want to study, you can write about the general class of problems you prefer to tackle. Would you rather build a physical device or stick to a more theoretical approach? Do you prefer to invent a completely new method, or improve and refine an existing solution? Don’t forget to explain why.
What is one thing we won’t know about you after reading your application?
Do you have a particularly unusual hobby or accomplishment? Does this information highlight a positive quality, such as perseverance or creativity? Remember that your application encompasses the entire Common Application, not just HMC’s supplement; don’t repeat something from your extracurriculars or additional information section.
Another approach to this prompt is to describe the intensity of your interest in a particular field of STEM. For example, if you’ve been building Rube Goldberg machines since you were 5, or obsessively devour every physics textbook you can get your hands on, you can discuss that here. Remember that the prompt asks for just one thing — you can choose a somewhat broad topic, but you shouldn’t drift between subjects over the course of this essay.
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