How to Write the Scripps College Essays 2022-2023
Scripps College has two required essay prompts. The first prompt is more straightforward, while the second one asks you to get creative!
Scripps receives thousands of applications from students with a strong academic record, so the essays are a great opportunity to showcase yourself as a unique individual.
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Scripps College Supplemental Essays
Prompt 1: Why have you chosen to apply to Scripps College? (200 words)
Prompt 2: Choose one of the following:
- Option A: If you could trade lives with someone (fictional or real) for a day, who would it be and why? (150-300 words)
- Option B: You’ve invented a time machine! When and where is your first destination and why? (150-300 words)
- Option C: You have just been invited to host your own podcast. What will you talk about and why did you select that topic? (150-300 words)
Why have you chosen to apply to Scripps College? (200 words)
This prompt is a standard “Why This College?” essay. It’s a very common, traditional essay archetype. Before you begin writing, be sure to check out CollegeVine’s guide to writing the “Why This College?” essay for in-depth tips and examples! Also be careful not to copy and paste another essay you wrote for a different college and just change the name. There might be some similarity due to colleges’ competitive resources, but you want to ensure that your response is clearly tailored to Scripps.
To begin thinking about what you’re going to write, you should do some research into the college if you haven’t already. Explore the programs, student organizations, faculty, and institutes to find things that resonate with you. The prompt is asking why you have chosen this college, so it’s important to establish how Scripps will align with your personal academic and extracurricular interests. Finding programs or extracurriculars that pique your interest and catch your eye will make writing with specificity much easier.
You should strive to explicitly connect your goals to some aspect of the college. The more personal the connection, the better your response will be. Some things you can discuss include:
- Specific classes or academic opportunities
- Individual professors
- Particular school traditions or culture
- Other institutes, museums, or centers within the college
These are great ways to connect with college tangibly, but you should also seek to express an intangible connection. Maybe you really value sustainability or diversity, or maybe you have strong religious beliefs. If Scripps or its programs have values that parallel yours, mention that in your response!
For example, your passion for both the environment and public policy might draw you to the Environmental Analysis Program, a 5-college collaboration designed to prepare students for careers in many environmental problem-solving fields.
Or maybe you’ve always found knitting to be a stress relief, so you’re interested in the Babes and Blankets club to combine your passion for knitting with community service.
You should aim for this level of specificity, rather than citing general aspects such as the school’s location, small courses, all-women setting. You want to show the admissions committee that you’re truly invested in Scripps, so do your research!
There are a few things you should try to avoid when creating your response.
- Avoid just name-dropping random professors’ names or programs you looked up without providing details and forming a personal connection.
- Avoid writing effusive praise about the college. Empty flattery is vague and suggests that you don’t have anything specific to offer.
- Avoid naming a really general feature common to all colleges. A nice location, a strong Psychology program, small class sizes, etc. don’t tell Scripps that you are deeply invested in it.
A hypothetical student may begin a specific response like this:
Having grown up in a rural community that produced its own food, I developed an abiding interest in agriculture and its methods. The Environmental Science track of the Environmental Analysis program would allow me to refine my knowledge of food cultivation through the application of quantitative science. The program’s vast array of global off-campus locations in Australia, Costa Rica, Botswana, and other countries also provides a unique opportunity to explore the agricultural solutions devised by scientists in other distinct climate regions. I also want to study the role that corporations and governments play in the practice of agriculture, so courses like “Psychology, Sustainability, and Environmental Decision-Making” will give me insight into why these entities make the decisions they do.
Remember, you have to respond to this prompt within 200 words. Be succinct and explicit in your response. You won’t have much space to be extremely elaborate, but try to discuss at least one academic and one extracurricular opportunity. If you do that, you will have a well-rounded response that will certainly express your desire to attend Scripps.
Prompt 2: Choose one of the following. (150-300 words)
Option A: If you could trade lives with someone (fictional or real) for a day, who would it be and why? (150-300 words)
Option B: You’ve invented a time machine! When and where is your first destination and why? (150-300 words)
Option C: You have just been invited to host your own podcast. What will you talk about and why did you select that topic? (150-300 words)
Since you have three choices, think about each prompt and choose the one that you feel the strongest connection to. If you have good answers for more than one prompt, decide which one demonstrates a trait of yours that hasn’t been covered in other parts of your application. These are all creative prompts, so you’re allowed to have a little more fun!
Prompt 2, Option A
If you could trade lives with someone (fictional or real) for a day, who would it be and why? (150-300 words)
This is a prompt that ideally does two things–it serves as an opportunity to be creative, and it allows you to reveal something about your personality or interests. Whether you choose someone real or fictional, be sure to give a brief but clear background. Don’t assume the admissions committee reading your application will know the person you’re writing about, even if it’s someone famous or well-known.
You can realistically pick just about anyone for this prompt, but you should probably avoid cliché or “obvious” choices like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, etc. These people are undoubtedly important and influential, but they are very common choices for essays like this.
In order to stand out, you should strive to find a person who reveals an important facet of your personality, your aspirations, or your ambitions. Try to think of people (or fictional characters) who reflect you in a more personal way than a common choice might.
Once you’ve chosen your person, think about why you are fascinated by this person’s life. Do you aspire to have a similar career one day? Do they lead a life very different from yours that you would like to experience? Do you want to understand their creative process or get a view into their scientific insights? What is it about their life that you want to try for a day? What you decide on as your reason should elucidate something about you that isn’t already obvious from the rest of your application or transcript.
A student athlete, for example, might choose something as personal as an old coach whose methodology inspired her to be a stronger, more resilient person. Another student might choose to be Batman for a day, admiring his endless resolve, his indomitable willpower, and his uncompromising moral code and heroism. There are plenty of angles for you to tackle this essay, but as long as you choose someone for a personal reason and defend your choice in a way that reveals something about your personality or interests, you should have a solid response.
The goal of this essay is to reveal the qualities you admire in others, and perhaps want to cultivate in yourself one day. If you’re having trouble coming up with a person to write about, you can work backwards and think of qualities you admire, then people who exhibit those qualities. You have a maximum of 300 words to work with, so remember to keep your response concise and specific.
Prompt 2, Option B
You’ve invented a time machine! When and where is your first destination and why? (150-300 words)
Remember that you could go in the future or in the past, but you should have a very clear idea of where and when that is. If you’re aiming to head to the past, then you may not have a specific year or event in mind, but you should at least have a specific range of years—like the Cold War or the Roaring Twenties.
Once you know when and where you want to go, think about why you are so interested in this time period. Is there a specific moment in time you’ve always been fascinated by because of its importance to history? Is there a person you’ve admired who performed some incredible feat that you want to witness? If you want to travel to the future, perhaps there’s a technological innovation you want to see developed.
Remember that you don’t have to travel very far backwards or forward—you could go weeks or months forward or backwards in your own life! Perhaps you handled some major conflict poorly and wish you could go back and do things differently—this is a good sign of maturity. If you have a big event you’re looking forward to, like the birth of a sibling, then you might want to travel forwards in time because you’re so eager to be an older sibling and mentor.
With 300 words, you should spend about a third of your essay on where/when you would go, and the last two-thirds of your essay should focus on the why. Make sure your answer is unique to you. If your answer feels like something that any student could write, then you want to keep digging deeper. Remember that the key to supplemental essays is to reveal more about who you are.
Prompt 2, Option C
You have just been invited to host your own podcast. What will you talk about and why did you select that topic? (150-300 words)
If you have a topic that is one of your core interests–something that you could talk about for hours if given the opportunity–this is the option for you. This prompt is asking, in a jovial way, “What is something you’re passionate about and why?” Don’t worry about the interest being something “intellectual” or “academic.” If you force yourself to write about something that doesn’t interest you much, it will most likely show in your writing.
You can absolutely talk about controversial topics if you’re passionate about them, but we recommend avoiding things that can be extremely divisive, like politics. Even if your essay is very well-written, the admissions officers reading it might disagree and have some unconscious bias. Instead, stick to somewhat more “harmless” subjects that you’re still passionate about.
Before you begin writing, list things about what you chose that you might want to discuss:
- Do you enjoy learning about it in your free time?
- Does it have a deep history/theory to it?
- Would learning about it contribute to people’s lives?
- Do you have an anecdote that would lend itself to a podcast discussion?
Bear in mind that you can choose something very abstract. Maybe you’ve baked with your grandmother since you were a small child and you want to talk about making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Or maybe you fell in love with psychology at some point during high school and you want to talk about memory.
Whatever you decide you would like to talk about in your podcast, be sure to be very specific on the “why.” Make your response as personal and in-depth as you reasonably can within 300 words.
Structurally, we recommend that you spend about a third (or less) of your response talking about the topic itself, and the rest of the essay on the “why.” A hypothetical student might begin to respond like this:
I heard Portuguese for the first time when I visited my grandparents in Brazil at five years old. My grandparents only spoke basic English, so we couldn’t communicate much without my parents translating. I could see the frustration in their faces when they forgot the word for a basic item or action. I resolved to learn their mother tongue so I could better connect with them and my roots.
Once I was finally able to talk to them in their language, their eyes lit up. Instead of just basic pleasantries, we could now have complex exchanges on their childhoods, politics, and more. Language learning is a special and humbling experience that I know many can relate to. My podcast would be about the Portuguese language and culture, and I’d invite guests to share their own language-learning stories and motivations. Some of it may even be in Portuguese…
Notice how this student jumps into a very personal “why” before revealing the actual topic of the podcast. Of course, different subjects will require a different amount of background explanation, but try not to use more than a third of your total word count to explain the “what.”
Bring as much personal experience and feeling as possible when explaining why you chose your topic. Remember, this is your podcast and your chance to really go in on something. Think beyond the simple “this topic is interesting” and highlight why you specifically are so passionate about this. If you do that, you’re sure to write a compelling response that will reveal quite a bit about who you are.
Where to Get Your Scripps College Essays Edited
Want feedback on your Scripps essays to improve your chances at admission? You can only read your own essay so many times before it gets difficult to even see where it can be improved. 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, advisors on CollegeVine 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!