How to Write the University of Pittsburgh Essays 2021-2022

The University of Pittsburgh, or Pitt, is a public research university just a few miles east of downtown Pittsburgh. With a campus encompassing 132 acres, Pitt enrolls almost 20,000 undergraduates, and is composed of 17 different undergraduate and graduate schools. 

 

Pitt is moderately selective and is consistently ranked as one of the top public universities in the country. The most popular departments at Pitt are business, engineering, health, and the social sciences. 

 

Unlike in the 2020-2021 cycle, there are no optional supplements applicable to all applicants, other than the main personal statement on the Common App, Coalition Application, or Pitt Application. International and Honors applicants must write a separate essay, however. 

 

In this post, we’ll break down how to write these essays to improve your chances of acceptance. Want to know your chances at Pitt? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

Want to learn what Pitt will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Pitt needs to know.

 

Pitt Supplemental Essay Prompts

 

International Applicants

 

Describe an experience where you had to adapt to a new environment (i.e. a different culture, situation, or way of thinking). (1500 characters recommended)

 

Honors Applicants

 

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?  Explain why and how you would change it. (no word count given)

 

 

International Applicants

Describe an experience where you had to adapt to a new environment (i.e. a different culture, situation, or way of thinking). (1500 characters recommended, about 200-400 words)

Being an international student is a unique experience, and Pitt wants to know that you are prepared for the challenges of adapting to a new country, culture, and environment. 

 

For this prompt, you will want to share a story that illustrates your adaptability, awareness, and open-mindedness. Hone in on one experience and take a deep dive into your thoughts and emotions as you were going through this transition.

 

Try to steer clear of cliche storylines; many students will generally discuss how it was difficult at first to study abroad, move to a different location, or overcome homesickness at an overnight program. Instead, focus on a specific aspect of the experience you choose to write about. For instance, a student who loved their study abroad experience would tell an anecdote about how they got lost in a foreign city and had to piece together their knowledge of the language to talk to taxi drivers and random strangers. Describing a specific moment like this will showcase your mentality and emotions in the moment where you were adapting to a new environment, which is what admissions officers want to learn from this essay.

 

Don’t feel obligated to write about experiences that are obviously relevant to being an international student. The prompt also mentions new “situations” or “ways of thinking.” You could also write about joining a new club, trying a new sport, or learning about a different way to approach a problem. The key is to pick a topic that will allow you to be reflective and illustrative of how you will adapt as an international student on UPitt’s campus.

 

As you decide on a topic and write your essay, ask yourself:

 

  • Which experience best allowed me to demonstrate my adaptability and openness?
  • What did I learn from this experience?
  • What were my thoughts and emotions as I was going through this experience?
  • How will this experience help me thrive as an international student?

 

Your essay should answer all of these questions, while still being exciting and engaging. For example, you might want to write about how you switched from a public to a private school. Don’t give an overview of your experience. Instead, tell the story of your first homecoming game where you were surrounded by students with pride for their school. Even though it was a new environment you were still getting acquainted with, seeing the school spirit and cheering on your team helped you feel like you belong at your new school. Despite the fear you might have felt the first few weeks of school, you decided that if you could cheer alongside your peers, you could talk to them in class as well. You now know that despite the challenges that might arise the first few weeks of college, when you’re standing in the stadium cheering on the Panthers you will feel the same sense of camaraderie and you will be able to connect with your peers.  

 

 

Honors Applicants

If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?  Explain why and how you would change it. (no word count given)

There’s so many ways you can go about this essay, and the key is to begin by brainstorming what it is you’re passionate about, and why you’re passionate about it. Pitt Honors College is specifically looking for students who “want to advance research, better the community, and leave a global footprint.” They’re asking you to think big, and think altruistically—so don’t be afraid to write about lofty dreams. Just be sincere and specific. Although there is no word count, you don’t need to go into a multi-page plan detailing your exact steps to solve this problem. We recommend 250-500 words. The key here is to show your character and passions more than anything. 

 

It would be even better if you have past experiences working towards implementing changes, which would give you more credibility and grounding. Even if it’s as small as being a member of a community service club, or volunteering, you could use these experiences as a jumping off point for your future goals. Also, if there’s a personal reason why you’ve chosen your topic, you should definitely talk about it, as it could lead to strong anecdotes that would make your essay come alive. 

 

At the end of the essay, you could even go into how you see Pitt Honors College fitting into your trajectory towards changing this proposed problem. You could talk about a Pitt Honors first year seminar, like “Power and Resistance,” mention how you would love to engage in meaningful conversations by living in Honors housing, and list a honors pod you would want to join—like the community engagement pod or the health sciences pod. 

 

Here are some examples to think about:

 

  • Maybe you want to study education, and in particular, you want to make a dent in reforming public education. You can acknowledge that this is a huge, structural problem probably unsolvable by a single person, but that you nevertheless want to give it your best try. You want to start by participating in Pitt’s Combined Accelerated Studies in Education, granting you a bachelor’s and a master’s in five years. You could discuss how you want to start as a student teacher, then manage your own classroom to learn how best to help children learn. Maybe after a while, you can go into education policy, and specifically work on creating less segregated public schools, and bringing more funding into underserved areas. 

 

  • Maybe your intended major is computer science, and the problem you’d like to address is a lack of rural connectivity to the internet, even in America. You want to take the normal slate of computer science classes, but also many classes in public policy, to know how the government plays a role in broadband access. After graduating, you’d want to both work as a programmer, but also advocate on behalf of rural communities, especially through granting local and state funding to develop better internet service in rural areas. 

 

  • Maybe you are really interested in racial justice since you have grown up feeling the effects of systemic racism and discrimination. You want to provide justice to Black Americans by becoming a death row lawyer and working with people who have been wrongly convicted. You plan to take law classes at UPitt that will teach you more about the complex workings of the justice system and how to perfect your public speaking skills. On campus, you want to join the Prisoner Legal Support Project to work with other like-minded students who care about these issues. After graduation, you plan to go to Louisiana, the state with the highest incarceration rate, to get some experience working with lawyers and inmates before law school.

 

 

Where to Get Your University of Pittsburgh Essays Edited for Free

Do you want feedback on your Brown essay? After reading your essays over and over, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. 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!

 

 


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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.

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