How to Write the Mount Holyoke Essays 2022-2023
Mount Holyoke College offers one optional writing supplemental prompt with two options to choose from. The options focus on your interest in Mount Holyoke and on a binary decision of your choosing. In this post we’ll talk about how to go about picking an option and how to respond to each.
This writing supplement is entirely optional, but we strongly recommend doing it, as essays give admissions committees insight into you as an individual beyond the marks on a transcript.
Want to know your chances at Mount Holyoke? Calculate them for free right now!
Mount Holyoke College Supplemental Essay Prompts
Please select one of the two prompts below. Your essay should be between 250-400 words.
Option 1: What unique characteristic about Mount Holyoke makes you interested in attending?
Option 2: Early bird or night owl? Sweet or savory? Go out or stay in? Or choose your own “this or that” scenario and make your case!
What unique characteristic about Mount Holyoke makes you interested in attending? (250-400 words)
Maybe Mount Holyoke is one of your top schools and you want the admissions committee to know that, or maybe you’re just struggling to craft a strong response to the other prompt option. In any case, this is a traditional, structured prompt that is very common across college applications.
If you decide that this is the prompt you want to respond to, be sure to check out CollegeVine’s guide to writing the “Why This College?” essay for in-depth tips and examples! Also take care not to copy and paste another “Why This College?” essay you wrote for another college. While there probably will be some overlap due to colleges’ competitive resources, you want your response to be unique and clearly tailored to Mount Holyoke.
Specificity is key to a successful “Why This College?” essay. You might want to do some research online to get some inspiration. Mount Holyoke’s website offers an abundance of information about degree programs, specific courses, student organizations, and faculty members. Look around and see what catches your eye or piques your interest. Once you find something, writing more specifically becomes easier.
It’s essential that you explicitly connect your goals to some aspect of the college. The more personal the connection, the better your response will be. Some things unique to Mount Holyoke can include:
- Campus culture
- Particular classes/academic opportunities
- Specific professors
- Other on-campus programs
The aforementioned things are tangible ways for you to connect with the college, but if you can, it’s great to express an intangible connection too. Perhaps you have strong religious convictions or value environmental conservation. Does Mount Holyoke or its programs have values that strongly align with yours? If so, mention that in your response!
For example, let’s 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 two ways she might research her interests and craft a response.
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.
Notice that the first example just tells the reader about a particular club and department whereas 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 (example 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 (example 2).
There are a few things you should try to avoid when creating your response.
- Avoid simply name-dropping some random professors or programs you looked up without saying anything about them. You need to be specific in what you decide to talk about, and in why those names stood out to you. Be as personal as possible in case other applicants happen to choose the same unique feature.
- Avoid writing effusive praise about the college. It’s nice to be nice, but empty flattery is vague and suggests that you have nothing specific to say about Mount Holyoke.
- Avoid naming a general facet that’s common to all colleges. A good location, a strong English program, small class sizes, etc. are not valid unique characteristics of Mount Holyoke.
- Avoid making Mount Holyoke’s membership in the Five College Consortium (with Amherst, Smith, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst) the focal point of your essay. This community is definitely an asset to the college, so it’s fine to mention it, but you should focus more on aspects within MoHo.
Admissions committees like to see individuality. Be yourself and be sincere in your response and you will already be on the right track.
Early bird or night owl? Sweet or savory? Go out or stay in? Or choose your own “this or that” scenario and make your case! (250-400 words)
Many students are reluctant to answer unconventional prompts like these because they don’t fit into the usual essay archetypes, but don’t worry! This is a great opportunity to show off some imaginative thinking. While anyone can choose this option, it’s especially suitable for creative or artistic types. If you pride yourself on your creative writing skills and haven’t been able to show them anywhere else on your application, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.
As you outline your response, think of things you’re passionate about. You might be a proud night owl or you might love sweet food, but you don’t have to use the examples given in the prompt. Maybe you’re a singer and you’ve argued a hundred times that mezzo-sopranos are more versatile than sopranos. Or maybe you’re a painter and have always favored surrealism over impressionism. Or maybe you have strong opinions about something more abstract like how you prefer darker-colored outfits to brighter ones. When picking a topic, consider three things:
- Choose something you know well enough to write about.
- The prompt is asking you to “make your case,” so choose something you feel strongly about; you don’t want to pick a topic that hardly concerns you and get stuck writing a tepid opinion lacking passion.
- Choose something that can lend itself to the binary model proposed in the prompt. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something with only two choices, but there should be two distinct options you can pick (like two styles of art, as stated before).
Note that there are some controversial political topics that are hotly debated. You probably have some strong opinions on some of these topics, but we recommend avoiding them for this prompt. Chances are if you have a strong opinion on a controversial topic, so does the person reading your application. While MoHo is definitely a liberal school, it’s best to avoid taking the kind of risk that writing about these topics entails. Beyond that, the prompt offers some lighthearted examples, so it’s likely that MoHo is looking for a more lighthearted response.
Structurally, you can go about writing this essay any way you want, but a factual structure lends itself well to the prompt. You only have 250-400 words, so consider simply outlining your first and second options, then immediately making your case for the one you prefer.
Some students opt for unconventional structures. You definitely don’t need to do this, but you might find a non-standard format useful. These structures include movie scripts, song lyrics, poems, news reports, and using other languages. For example, let’s say a student is bilingual and decides to write about “English or Spanish.” She could talk about how much Spanish resonates with her and defines her identity. She could describe English and how she uses it in English, then do the same for Spanish in Spanish. Then in the part where she makes her case, she can use a mix of the two that gradually utilizes more and more Spanish to symbolize its importance to her identity.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when answering a prompt that encourages you to be creative. Find something you truly care about and let your passion and imagination shine through.
Where to Get Your Mount Holyoke College Essays Edited
Want feedback on your Mount Holyoke College essays to improve your chances at admission? After reading and rereading your own essay so many times, it gets difficult to even spot where there’s room for improvement. That’s why we’ve created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also sharpen your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays!
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, CollegeVine advisors have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!