Emory University Application Essay Prompts
In addition to your application personal statement, first-year applicants to Emory University should also answer two (2) of the five (5) short answer prompts below. Each response should be no more than 150 words.
1) In your opinion, what is an important challenge facing your generation in the next 50 years?
This essay is geared to the applicant who pays particular attention to his or her surroundings and the current state of the world. One could start by selecting a topic of interest to talk about, which could include anything ranging from global climate change solutions to developing more empathic economies as globalization exponentially connects the world that threatens eliminating poor people or the middle class.
Some quick Googling, reading global CNN news, or even asking your teachers about major upcoming issues will rapidly reveal various fields that will experience grave challenges in the future. Take your pick on which one you would like to elaborate on.
It would be easy for you to discuss something that you have some expertise in, but if you cannot connect your current knowledge to an immediate global urgency, then this prompt gives you the opportunity to do some research about something that interests you. Either way, it would behoove you to be informed of global issues because admissions officers want to see that you know more than just your niche.
After you have picked a topic, you should elaborate on key aspects of it, such as why this problem has not been addressed in the past (maybe it was not even a problem until now), why current attempts to fix it have failed, or even the factors that make solving the issue easier or harder, and why. Answering such questions will probably also require you to do some research.
Alternatively, you can take another approach and discuss a problem that, perhaps, has not been heavily discussed by news channels or academia. Oftentimes, society has experienced certain problems because they are unprecedented, and mankind has not seen them coming. The rapid development of global terrorism or random outbreaks of Ebola could not have been foreseen 50 years in advance; from this perspective, it would not be out of the question for you to talk about a problem that you personally see looming on the horizon.
As long as you can substantiate your ideas with insightful thoughts based on some information you know to be true, you would probably be safe inventing your own future challenge to your generation. Even if this does not come true, your admissions officer will appreciate your inventiveness, as well as your ability to think about possible problems — since ideating about possible precautions on a large scale is never unwise.
Finally, you can wrap up your response to this prompt by relating the problem you have discussed to your personal interests or possible future career aspirations. Emory is an institution that offers admissions to high-level thinkers and innovators of solutions in order to solve new problems — that is what has made it such a successful research institution.
2) What are you most excited about or looking forward to in your college experience?
Like most essay prompts that ask you to write about how you envision a certain future, you should be aware that your reader will have a relatively proper answer in mind. Refrain from mentioning any of the taboo social activities that many high school students look forward to about college (yes, believe it or not, we have seen such essays be submitted). Remember, your reader wants you to demonstrate what academic, extracurricular, and innovative experiences you envision about Emory in particular, not just any college in general.
Bearing this in mind, you should not exclude any healthy social experiences that you are truly looking forward to. Exposure to people of diverse backgrounds or the opportunity to talk to professors at the vanguard of their fields in 1-on-1 settings is part of Emory’s campus culture. These experiences are a fundamental part of a student’s social experience at Emory, and thus is perfectly kosher to talk about.
You could also talk about the possibility of conducting some form of research at Emory Med, or maybe mention your growing passion for health policy that you could study at Emory. If you also want to mention some things that are not specific to Emory, you could use this prompt to reveal other aspects about your personality or interests not seen throughout your whole application, but understand that if the experiences you discuss could occur at any school, you are passing up a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your interest in Emory to an admissions committee.
One way to conclude your response is by talking about your expectations as you entered high school compared to your expectations now as you enter college. This will reveal how much growing up and introspection you have done through your four years of high school, and it will show your reader how aware you are of your own personal development.
3) Please describe your ideal college campus/academic environment and what you hope to gain from it?
Similar to the previous prompt, your essay for this one should not describe some ideal environment that would be easy to find at an institution other than Emory. Before you apply, you should take a virtual tour and talk to current Emory students of various backgrounds, or visit the school (the best but not always the most feasible option) in order to get an idea of what the academic environment is like there. This will make creating this essay magnitudes easier, as you will already have a specific idea of what you like about life at the university.
Regardless of how you conduct your Emory campus life research, you should write a response that compares what life at Emory is like to what you are like. Specifically, you should talk about what particular things you need in your environment in order to succeed as a student.
Maybe you’re an introvert, and you find that large classes make you anxious, and that is why Emory’s small class sizes will be perfect for you. Perhaps you have a strong desire to study primate neuroscience, which will come in handy as you venture to work at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Regardless of what’s the best fit for you, your essay will gain more value as you describe not so much your ideal environment but more as to why that is.
Your essay reader will want to see if you are the type of person who takes note of your surroundings and makes a conscious effort to get the most out of it. This could take on the form of various facilities, the types of knowledge available throughout the campus, or even the social aspect that characterizes Emory that you are yearning for. Try to be as unique as possible and really think about what you want to say prior to writing, because many applicants may be tempted to write similar things if they have not mentally gone over the specific aspects of the environment that is pleasing to them.
4) What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, television show, album, poem, or play?) Why?
This essay prompt might appear easier to some applicants because it appears to require less soul-searching than other college admissions essay might. It allows you to dazzle your reader with the uniqueness of your interests in basically whatever medium you choose.
Although you might be tempted to mention that explicit song or raunchy comedy that you have come to treasure because of its entertainment value, do not list anything remotely uncouth on your application unless you provide in your essay a well-thought-out and reasonable rebuttal to any questions (or doubts) an admissions reader might have about you as they read your response.
For instance, your admissions reader might wonder what could compel you to write about something that might make you look less than ideal as a prospective candidate to an elite institution. There is often an untold marker that admissions officers look for when reading through applicants’ essays, and that is if the candidate is ready to bear the name of the school they would attend.
If your reader does not think that a worthy Emory scholar would admit to liking vulgar TV shows in a professional setting, then your praises of such TV shows will not add competitive value to your application.
On the other hand, you might disprove your reader’s assumptions of who you are by asserting your keen awareness of valuing what traditional professionalism might deem as inappropriate. Remember that Emory looks for innovators, and thus it might be fine to say you like raunchy comedy.
For example, if you point out that it reminds you there are other ways for quality individuals to amuse themselves, and it is important to remain familiar with what most people think of as humorous versus what many Emory scholars might think is funny. This would actually make you seem very grounded, and could pave the way to a meaningful claim that would surprise an Emory adcom officer.
Remember that many applicants will be sharing their favorite esoteric 16th-century literature, or point out their personal philosophy regarding the harmony of Charlotte Bronte’s narratives; this is fine too, insofar as you can maintain an intellectual and thought-provoking interpretation of your favorite fiction/non-fiction work and demonstrate you’re not just trying to impress the adcom.
If you do not have a complex work to discuss, then you should choose a piece that you are truly passionate about. The point of this essay is not to reveal which applicant has the most intellectual tastes; rather, it is to identify which applicants can actually make the most — ideologically — of works that are not always traditionally easy to admire. This is one way to approach writing for this prompt.
Regardless of what you choose as your favorite work, your focus should be on demonstrating your unique appreciation of the things you like, as well as some description of why your favorite thing is indeed your favorite.
Do not worry if what you select is something common to what many people might like (this just makes it harder to stand out), since the main purpose of this essay should be to emphasize how and why you have come to regard it as your favorite. This essay requires the applicant to be aware of why the process by which they have come to like the things they do, rather than just blindly admiring something.
5) What motivates you to learn?
If you choose to complete an essay for this prompt, you are going to want to have a developed idea of what pushes you to learn, ideally with anecdotes or other evidence to support your argument. This “learning” could be learning that takes place in the classroom, but college often teaches students more out of the classroom than inside of it (which could be an alternative path you could take to answer this prompt).
However you choose to define learning, you should remember to include descriptions of the specific things that motivate you to keep learning. These motivations could range from your ailing grandparent’s dying wish for you to always try to better yourself, to your religiously inspired personal ideology that education rather than necessary “suffering as a lesson” is the best way to help society grow.
The range of acceptable answers to this prompt is rather large, so you should bear in mind that you have license to be as expressive or imaginative as you want with this essay. No one can really discredit whatever claim you have as you write an answer to this prompt, which falls to your advantage.
Just remember to keep away from cliché narratives or parables; have a reliable adult or teacher read over this response prior to submitting!
You always want to avoid writing about some motivation that an admissions officer would not like, such as a desire to learn in order to acquire wealth. Emory University is an institution that hopes to foster community and philanthropy through the education it confers on its students. So even if you have a more basic reason for learning, you should not present that to your reader and should aim to give a more complex response that offers insight into your character to admissions readers.
These essay prompts are rigorous, so if you think you could use some help in developing your essay, consider reaching out toone of our Emory essay specialists. With enough prep time and introspection, completing this supplement will be a breeze.
Our team at CollegeVine wishes you the best of luck as you apply to Emory University!
Sample College Admission Essays
This section contains two examples of good college essays.
- College Essay One
- College Essay Two
- College Essay Three
College Essay One
Prompt: Please submit a one-page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen State University and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s).
State University and I possess a common vision. I, like State University, constantly work to explore the limits of nature by exceeding expectations. Long an amateur scientist, it was this drive that brought me to the University of Texas for its Student Science Training Program in 2013. Up to that point science had been my private past time, one I had yet to explore on anyone else’s terms. My time at UT, however, changed that. Participating for the first time in a full-length research experiment at that level, I felt more alive, more engaged, than I ever had before. Learning the complex dynamics between electromagnetic induction and optics in an attempt to solve one of the holy grails of physics, gravitational-waves, I could not have been more pleased. Thus vindicated, my desire to further formalize my love of science brings me to State University. Thanks to this experience, I know now better than ever that State University is my future, because through it I seek another, permanent, opportunity to follow my passion for science and engineering.
In addition to just science, I am drawn to State University for other reasons. I strive to work with the diverse group of people that State University wholeheartedly accommodates – and who also share my mindset. They, like me, are there because State University respects the value of diversity. I know from personal experience that in order to achieve the trust, honesty, and success that State University values, new people are needed to create a respectful environment for these values. I feel that my background as an American Sikh will provide an innovative perspective in the university’s search for knowledge while helping it to develop a basis for future success. And that, truly, is the greatest success I can imagine.
This emphasis on diversity can also be found in the variety of specialized departments found at State University. On top of its growing cultural and ethnic diversity, State University is becoming a master at creating a niche for every student. However, this does not isolate students by forcing them to work with only those individuals who follow their specific discipline. Instead, it is the seamless interaction between facilities that allows each department, from engineering to programming, to create a real learning environment that profoundly mimics the real world. Thus, State University is not just the perfect place for me, it is the only place for me. Indeed, having the intellectual keenness to absorb every ounce of knowledge presented through my time in the IB program, I know that I can contribute to State University as it continues to cultivate a scholarly climate that encourages intellectual curiosity.
At the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at State University, I will be able to do just that. In a department where education and research are intermixed, I can continue to follow the path that towards scientific excellence. Long-mesmerized by hobbies like my work with the FIRST Robotics team, I believe State University would be the best choice to continue to nurture my love for electrical and computer engineering. I have only scratched the surface in this ever evolving field but know that the technological potential is limitless. Likewise, I feel that my time at State University would make my potential similarly limitless.
This is a picture-perfect response to a university-specific essay prompt. What makes it particularly effective is not just its cohesive structure and elegant style but also the level of details the author uses in the response. By directly identifying the specific aspects of the university that are attractive to the writer, the writer is able to clearly and effectively show not only his commitment to his studies but – perhaps more importantly – the level of thought he put into his decision to apply. Review committees know what generic responses look like so specificity sells.
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College Essay Two
Prompt: What motivates you?
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of science. Where others see the engineering, experimentation, and presentation of science as a chore, I only see excitement. Even as a child I constantly sought it out, first on television with Bill Nye and The Mythbusters, then later in person in every museum exhibit I could find. Science in all its forms fascinated me, but science projects in particular were a category all to themselves. To me, science projects were a special joy that only grew with time. In fact, it was this continued fascination for hands-on science that brought me years later to the sauna that is the University of Alabama in mid-June. Participating in the Student Science Training Program and working in their lab made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Just the thought of participating in a project at this level of scientific rigor made me forget that this was supposed to be my summer break and I spent the first day eagerly examining every piece of equipment.
Even at first, when the whole research group sat there doing rote calculations and others felt like they were staring down the barrel of defeated purpose, I remained enthusiastic. Time and time again I reminded myself of that famous phrase "great effort leads to great rewards," and sure enough, soon my aspirations began to be met. This shift in attitude also coincided with a shift in location: from the computer desk to the laser lab. It was finally time to get my hands dirty.
Now things began to get really interesting. During the experimentation phase of the project, I spent the majority of my waking hours in the lab – and I enjoyed every minute of it. From debriefing with my coordinator in the morning to checking and rechecking results well into the afternoon, I was on cloud nine all day, every day. I even loved the electric feeling of anxiety as I waited for the results. Most of all, though, I loved the pursuit of science itself. Before I knew it, I was well into the seventh week and had completed my first long-term research experiment.
In the end, although the days were long and hard, my work that summer filled me with pride. That pride has confirmed and reinvigorated my love for science. I felt more alive, more engaged, in that lab than I have anywhere else, and I am committed to returning. I have always dreamed of science but since that summer, since my experiment, I have dreamed only of the future. To me, medical science is the future and through it I seek another, permanent, opportunity to follow my passion. After all, to follow your passion is, literally, a dream come true.
In addition to its use of clear, demonstrative language, there is one thing that makes this an effective essay: focus. Indeed, notice that, although the question is broad, the answer is narrow. This is crucial. It can be easy to wax poetic on a topic and, in the process, take on too much. Instead, by highlighting one specific aspect of his personality, the author is able to give the reader a taste of his who he is without overwhelming him or simply reproducing his résumé. This emphasis gives the reader the opportunity to learn who the writer is on his terms and makes it a truly compelling application essay.
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College Essay Three
The winter of my seventh grade year, my alcoholic mother entered a psychiatric unit for an attempted suicide. Mom survived, but I would never forget visiting her at the ward or the complete confusion I felt about her attempt to end her life. Today I realize that this experience greatly influenced my professional ambition as well as my personal identity. While early on my professional ambitions were aimed towards the mental health field, later experiences have redirected me towards a career in academia.
I come from a small, economically depressed town in Northern Wisconson. Many people in this former mining town do not graduate high school and for them college is an idealistic concept, not a reality. Neither of my parents attended college. Feelings of being trapped in a stagnant environment permeated my mind, and yet I knew I had to graduate high school; I had to get out. Although most of my friends and family did not understand my ambitions, I knew I wanted to make a difference and used their doubt as motivation to press through. Four days after I graduated high school, I joined the U.S. Army.
The 4 years I spent in the Army cultivated a deep-seated passion for serving society. While in the Army, I had the great honor to serve with several men and women who, like me, fought to make a difference in the world. During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments. Driven by a commitment to serve and a desire to understand the foundations of psychological illness, I decided to return to school to study psychology.
In order to pay for school and continue being active in the community, I enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard as a Medic. Due to the increased deployment schedule and demands placed on all branches of the military after September 11, my attendance in school has necessarily come second to my commitment to the military. There are various semesters where, due to this demand, I attended school less than full time. Despite taking a long time and the difficulty in carving separate time for school with such occupational requirements, I remained persistent aiming towards attending school as my schedule would allow. My military commitment ends this July and will no longer complicate my academic pursuits.
In college, as I became more politically engaged, my interest began to gravitate more towards political science. The interest in serving and understanding people has never changed, yet I realized I could make a greater difference doing something for which I have a deeper passion, political science. Pursuing dual degrees in both Psychology and Political Science, I was provided an opportunity to complete a thesis in Psychology with Dr. Sheryl Carol a Professor in Social Psychology at the University of Texas (UT) This fall I will complete an additional thesis as a McNair Scholar with Dr. Ken Chambers, Associate Professor in Latin American studies in the UT Political Science Department.
As an undergraduate, I was privileged to gain extensive research experience working in a research lab with Dr. Carol. During the three years I worked in her lab, I aided in designing a study, writing an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application, running participants through both pilot and regular studies, coding data, and analyzing said data, with these experiences culminating in my honors thesis. This thesis, entitled Self-Esteem and Need-to-Belong as predictors of implicit stereotypic explanatory bias, focuses on the relationship between levels (high and low) of self-esteem and an individual’s need to belong in a group, and how they predict whether an individual will tend to explain stereotype-inconsistent behavior. Participating in such a large study from start to finish has validated my interest in academic research as a profession.
This fall I will embark on writing an additional honors thesis in political science. While the precise topic of my thesis is undecided, I am particularly interested in Mexico and its development towards a more democratic government. Minoring in Spanish, I have read various pieces of literature from Mexico and have come to respect Mexico and Latin American culture and society. I look forward to conducting this research as it will have a more qualitative tilt than my thesis in psychology, therefore granting an additional understanding of research methodology.
My present decision to switch from social psychology to political science is further related to a study abroad course sponsored by the European Union with Dr. Samuel Mitchell, an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at UT. Professor Mitchell obtained a grant to take a class of students to Belgium in order to study the EU. This course revealed a direct correlation between what I had studied in the classroom with the real world. After spending several weeks studying the EU, its history and present movement towards integration, the class flew to Brussels where we met with officials and proceeded to learn firsthand how the EU functioned.
My interest in attending the University of Rochester in particular, relates to my first semester at OU and the opportunity to take an introductory course in statistics with the now retired Dr. Larry Miller. Through the combination of a genuine appreciation and knack for statistics and with his encouragement, I proceeded to take his advanced statistics class as well as the first graduate level statistics course at OU. I continued my statistical training by completing the second graduate statistics course on model comparisons with Dr. Roger Johnson, a Professor in the Psychology Department. The model comparison course was not only the most challenging course I have taken as an undergraduate, but the most important. As the sole undergraduate in the course and only college algebra under my belt, I felt quite intimidated. Yet, the rigors of the class compelled me to expand my thinking and learn to overcome any insecurities and deficits in my education. The effort paid off as I earned not only an ‘A’ in the course, but also won the T.O.P.S. (Top Outstanding Psychology Student) award in statistics. This award is given to the top undergraduate student with a demonstrated history of success in statistics.
My statistical training in psychology orientates me toward a more quantitative graduate experience. Due to the University of Rochester’s reputation for an extensive use of statistics in political science research, I would make a good addition to your fall class. While attending the University of Rochester, I would like to study international relations or comparative politics while in graduate school. I find the research of Dr.’s Hein Goemans and Gretchen Helmke intriguing and would like the opportunity to learn more about it through the Graduate Visitation program.
Participation in the University of Rochester’s Graduate School Visitation Program would allow me to learn more about the Department of Political Science to further see if my interests align with those in the department. Additionally, my attendance would allow the Political Science department to make a more accurate determination on how well I would fit in to the program than from solely my graduate school application. Attending the University of Rochester with its focus on quantitative training, would not only allow me to utilize the skills and knowledge I gained as an undergraduate, but also would expand this foundation to better prepare me to conduct research in a manner I find fascinating.
From attending S.E.R.E. (Survival/POW training) in the military and making it through a model comparisons course as an undergraduate, I have rarely shied away from a challenge. I thrive on difficult tasks as I enjoy systematically developing solutions to problems. Attending the University of Rochester would more than likely prove a challenge, but there is no doubt in my mind that I would not only succeed but enable me to offer a unique set of experiences to fellow members of the incoming graduate class.
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