How to Write the Mount Holyoke Essays 2021-2022
Mount Holyoke College has one optional supplemental prompt with three options to choose from. These options focus on your interest in Mount Holyoke, your superpower of choice, and social media. This post will cover how to decide which prompt to choose, as well as how to write an effective response to each one.
Although this supplement is technically optional, we strongly encourage you to respond to it, as you want to take advantage of every available opportunity to share something about yourself with the admissions officers.
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Mount Holyoke College Supplemental Essay Prompts
Please select one of the three prompts below.
Option 1: Tell us why you are interested in attending Mount Holyoke College. (250-400 words)
Option 2: If you had a superpower, what would it be and how would you use it? (250-400 words)
Option 3: What role has social media played in your engagement with a particular issue, whether local or global? (250-400 words)
Tell us why you are interested in attending Mount Holyoke College. (250-400 words)
If Mount Holyoke is your top choice school, or one of your top choices, and you want to express your excitement to the admissions officers, this is a perfect prompt for you. Alternatively, maybe no prompt jumps out at you, and you’re struggling with brainstorming for the other two, more creative options. In that case, we also recommend choosing this one, as it’s the most conventional, and thus provides more structure than the other two.
Once you decide this is the prompt for you, we recommend reading our general post on “Why This College?” supplements before getting started, if you haven’t already. Also remember that even if you’ve written a “Why School?” essay for another college, you don’t want to just copy and paste “Mount Holyoke” into that template. Your response to this prompt will likely have some similarities, which is completely fine, but every college is unique, and you want your essay to reflect your interest in Mount Holyoke specifically.
To make sure your response is specific to Mount Holyoke, you’ll need to do some research. Clubs and classes pages are a great place to start. The key to a strong response is not just identifying opportunities you’re interested in, but also explaining why.
For example, say an applicant has volunteered at food banks in high school, and she wants to continue working to combat food insecurity in college. Here are a couple of examples to demonstrate how she might go about researching ways to do that at Mount Holyoke, and then writing a strong response to this prompt.
Example 1: I’ve volunteered at food banks since I was a freshman in high school, and Mount Holyoke’s Food Justice Society would give me an opportunity to keep learning about food insecurity in college. Classes in unusual departments at Mount Holyoke, like the Entrepreneurships, Organizations, and Society department, would also help me expand my abilities to create social change.
Example 2: After working at food banks for the last three years, I am certain I want to continue working to fight food insecurity at Mount Holyoke. Clubs like the Food Justice Society would give me an opportunity to target this issue on a grassroots level, as I believe community-based food production systems are less likely to let people fall through the cracks. However, I believe a multi-pronged approach is the most effective way to enact social change, and courses like “Ethics in Entrepreneurship and Business” would get me to consider what role corporations have in ensuring their workers have enough to eat.
The primary difference here is that the first example just tells the reader about a particular club and department, while the second describes in detail how the applicant would take advantage of these opportunities to pursue her own goals.
Admissions officers know what their school offers (prompt 1). What they don’t know is how you see those offerings enriching your college experience.That’s what a strong response should illustrate for them (prompt 2).
One thing you don’t want to mention in your response is Mount Holyoke’s membership in the Five College Consortium, with Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and UMass Amherst. While being part of a larger community like this is absolutely a benefit of attending Mount Holyoke, wanting to be part of this consortium will only tell the admissions officers you want to attend one of five schools, not Mount Holyoke specifically.
If you had a superpower, what would it be and how would you use it? (250-400 words)
“Curveball” prompts like this can seem confusing, since they are so different from most other supplements. However, because these unconventional prompts require you to get creative, a strong response can even take your application to the next level. If you have the time to tackle a more unusual prompt, and feel comfortable exercising some creativity, we encourage you to give this prompt a shot!
As you start outlining your response, the first thing to do is pick a superpower. There’s no right or wrong answer here. You could choose something familiar, like flying or super speed, or something you came up with yourself, like being able to learn any language immediately, or being able to breathe normally at extreme altitudes.
Something along the lines of the latter two would be slightly better, as creativity is always a plus in college essays. However, the “how would you use it” part of this essay is much more important than the actual superpower, so if you’ve always wanted to fly, write about flight!
Once you’ve picked a superpower, you want to think about what you want to illustrate about yourself in this essay. As we mentioned above, remember that the point of any college essay is to teach your reader something about your personality or character. So do some brainstorming about what you would use your superpower for, and what that says about you.
For example, say an applicant chooses the breathing example above. Maybe the reason she wants this ability is because she has climbed several mountains, and she’s always frustrated that she can’t spend much time at the top due to the low oxygen levels. She might describe how, if she didn’t have to worry about breathing, she would be able to live in the moment much more on these mountaintops, rather than always worrying about passing out.
This would make a strong response for a couple of reasons:
- Mountain climbing is something that might not show up elsewhere in this student’s application, so the admissions officers will learn more about her abilities and talents.
- Even more importantly, the writer connects her superpower to her personality, by saying she wants to use this power to live in the moment and take full advantage of the experiences she has. The reader comes away knowing something new about her as a person, not just her resume.
- The writer uses an example—her past experience climbing mountains—to ground her answer in reality, rather than speaking generally about why this ability would be cool.
Alternatively, you could go really creative and go for a fun, lighthearted response. For example, a different applicant could write about how she wants to be immune to fire so she could make perfectly roasted marshmallows for all her friends, and so she could wear her school’s dragon costume and do stunts with real fire at sports games.
Even though these examples may seem more trivial than the ones you normally include in college essays, they actually illustrate a lot about this applicant’s personality. They show she cares about her friends, and that she’s adventurous and has a lot of school spirit.
The reality of college applications is that they’re generally quite dry, and this kind of essay will go a long way towards injecting some life into your file. But this strategy is also hard to pull off successfully, so only go for it if you’re a confident writer.
Finally, remember that you might want some superpowers that wouldn’t be great to mention in a college essay. You shouldn’t, for example, say you wish you could snap your fingers and be done with all of your homework. While just about every student has probably wished they could do that at some point in their life, there is such a thing as being too honest.
What role has social media played in your engagement with a particular issue, whether local or global? (250-400 words)
Like Option 2, this prompt is probably one you haven’t seen yet. However, it’s not as creative as the superpower question. If something immediately comes to mind here, you should definitely go for it! But if you’re struggling to think of something to write about, we encourage you to respond to one of the other options, as the familiarity of Option 1 and the flexibility of Option 2 mean those two will likely be easier to brainstorm for.
If you feel like this is the right prompt for you, the first thing you need to do is identify an issue you want to focus on. Obviously, social media needs to have influenced your understanding of the issue you choose, or else you won’t be responding to every part of the prompt.
For example, you could write about how Twitter memes about the Ever Given getting stuck in the Suez Canal inspired you to learn about international shipping, and how the delays caused by the ship have impacted supply chains all over the world.
Keep in mind, however, that the prompt specifies the issue can be local or global, so don’t feel like you have to write about something that made national headlines. You could also write about how your hometown set up a Facebook group to coordinate delivering groceries to eldery people during the pandemic. Writing about a more local issue like this shows your reader that you are an engaged, responsible member of your community.
In addition to your description of the issue you have chosen, you want to make sure you include some takeaways. Your reader needs to not only know what happened, but also see what you learned from the experience, and how you will bring those lessons to Mount Holyoke’s community.
Below are some examples, using the Facebook group example, that show how to incorporate this element into your essay.
Example 1: “I was proud to be part of a community that takes advantage of social media to look out for members who are often forgotten.”
There isn’t anything wrong with the content of this example, per se. It just needs some expansion. Right now, the reader only knows how you felt in that moment, not the lessons you have taken with you into the present. Example 2 provides this elaboration.
Example 2: “This experience showed me that communities have a responsibility to not just be aware of their oft-overlooked members, but actually go out of their way to connect with those people and ensure they have the support they need. Online platforms like Facebook facilitate the creation of these kinds of support networks, as even when there isn’t a pandemic going on, sometimes people are too busy to all meet in one place. But people still do want to help each other, and social media makes that possible.”
Finally, a word of caution. As you’re thinking about which issue you want to write about, try as much as possible to avoid taking any sort of political stance. Here are just a few examples of hot-button topics that you definitely want to avoid:
- The government’s coronavirus response (whether under the current or previous administration)
- Anything related to the vaccine
- Nationalized healthcare
- Ease/difficulty of voting in the United States (or anywhere)
We do not mean to say that these issues are unimportant. Far from it. Rather, people typically have incredibly strong opinions about these topics, and you have no idea whether the person reading your essay will have the same strong opinions as you. The last thing you want to do in a college essay is unintentionally offend.
Where to Get Your Mount Holyoke Essay Edited for Free
Sometimes, the more you edit your own essay, the harder it can be to see anything that needs to be improved. That’s why we created our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. Since they don’t know you personally, they can be a more objective judge of whether your personality shines through, and whether you’ve fully answered the prompt.
You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. We highly recommend giving this tool a try!