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2016 University of Michigan Supplemental Essays

U-M supplemental essay questions for the 2015-2016 Common Application:

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words.)u michigan

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 500 words maximum.) FRESHMEN APPLICANTS

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 500 words maximum.) TRANSFER APPLICANTS

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

Fall 2016 2015-2016 University of Chicago Writing Supplement

Thank goodness the University of Chicago relishes college application essays. Tuesday, June 2, 2015, they released their 2015-2016 prompts for Fall 2016 applicants. Here’s the text of its email announcing the prompts. Check our website and app for other updates as they get released. 

uchicag“As the University of Chicago prepares to celebrate our 125th year this fall, we’ve gotten a little nostalgic about our traditions. A lot has changed in 125 years–the swim test is no longer a graduation requirement, and the University’s groundbreaking work in economicspolitics, and molecular engineeringis supported by amazing new institutes. But surprisingly, a lot has stayed the same–our commitment to fearless inquiry, the importance of asking big, important questions, and our traditional Uncommon admissions essays. Every year, our applicants choose one of several prompts to respond to, none of which fit the “traditional” college essay mold. Think of this as a chance to think creatively, apply your knowledge, and have some fun. Wherever your imagination leads you, enjoy the adventure!

So, without further ado, here are the 2015-2016 University of Chicago essay prompts:

  1. Orange is the new black, fifty’s the new thirty, comedy is the new rock ‘n’ roll,
    ____ is the new ____. What’s in, what’s out, and why is it being replaced?
    Inspired by Payton Weidenbacher, Class of 2015
  2.  “I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes.” –Maxine Hong Kingston. What paradoxes do you live with?
    Inspired by Danna Shen, Class of 2019
  3. Joan of Arkansas. Queen Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mash up a historical figure with a new time period, environment, location, or occupation, and tell us their story.
    Inspired by Drew Donaldson, Class of 2016
  4. “Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” –Paul Gauguin.
    What is your “art”? Is it plagiarism or revolution?
    Inspired by Kaitlyn Shen, Class of 2018.
  5. Rerhceseras say it’s siltl plisbsoe to raed txet wtih olny the frist and lsat ltteres in palce. Tihs is beaucse the hamun mnid can fnid oderr in dorsdier. Give us your best example of finding order in disorder. (For your reader’s sake, please use full sentences with conventional spelling).
    Also inspired by Payton Weidenbacher, Class of 2015. Payton is extra-inspirational this year!
  6. In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose a question of your own. If your prompt is original and thoughtful, then you should have little trouble writing a great essay. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.
  7. In the spirit of historically adventurous inquiry, to celebrate the University of Chicago’s 125thanniversary, please feel free to select from any of our past essay questions. A collection of prompts can be found at U Chicago Past Prompts

From All College Application Essays.

These were also part of the University of Chicago 2014-2015 Supplement. We will update the entire set of requirements as they are released in mid-June. 

2. How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago. (Required, Upload)

3. Freshman Applicants Only: 

Share with us a few of your favorite books, poems, authors, films, plays, pieces of music, musicians, performers, paintings, artists, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Feel free to touch on one, some, or all of the categories listed, or add a category of your own. (Optional, Upload)

3. Transfer Applicants Only: Please tell us why you are planning to leave (or have already left) your current college or university. (Required, Upload)

*Students may create a UChicago Account before or after beginning the Common or Universal Application. To create a UChicago account before you begin working on either application, please visit If you would like to create a UChicago account after beginning to work on the Universal Application or Common Application, we will send you an email with instructions on how to do so. When you sign in to your UChicago Account, you will be able to submit your UChicago Supplement, complete and update your profile, apply for financial aid, upload supplementary materials, and view your admissions decision.

Questions about technical matters related to using the Common Application should be directed to the folks at the Common Application or Universal Application. Questions about our own requirements and recommendations should be directed to us.

2015-2016 Common APP Essays Prompts and Commentary

By Rebecca Joseph

The NewsScreen Shot 2015-03-31 at 6.05.59 PM

The Common Application last week released its 2015-2016 freshman essay prompts. They include one entirely new prompt (prompt four) replacing the one about the place where you are perfectly content. They revised the first two prompts and kept two (essay three and five). The length of 250-650 words remains the same, and colleges can now make the essay optional. The Common Application also states that it will help kids identify all supplemental essays they need to write in a more streamlined way.

Here are the prompts with the new sections italicized next to last year’s prompts

2015-2016 Prompts 2013-2015 Prompts
Prompt One- RevisedSome students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.


Prompt OneSome students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.


Prompt Two- RevisedThe lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success.Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?


Prompt Two 

Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?


Prompt Three- SameReflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? Prompt ThreeReflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?


Prompt Four- NewDescribe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.  Prompt Four 

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?


Prompt Five- SameDiscuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. Prompt Five

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.


Prompt 1. Thank goodness this prompt now includes talents and interests. It empowers students to tell any number of powerful stories about their passions. It changes “central” to “meaningful” freeing writers to tell a wide range of unique stories. It seems to me like a cool alternative to topic of your choice.

Prompt 2. I am glad that the new prompt starts with lessons from failure that lead to success as the former prompt led many students to stay mired in failures without discussing even more relevant successes. After all, colleges want to know who the applicants are now because of former failures.

Prompt 3. This prompt about challenging ideas or beliefs remains the same and always leads to fascinating essays. I always tell students that community service actions often challenge the status quo, and anyone who is the first in their families to go to college always challenge ideas and beliefs.

Prompt 4. This entirely new prompt is interesting and will now empower students to explore intellectual topics and other problems they solve in and out of classrooms. It does potentially overlap with prompt three as solving problems can often challenge beliefs or ideas.

Prompt 5. This prompt remains the same, and yet it’s the prompt that the fewest of the students I work with across all socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural groups tackle. Few teens view themselves as adults, and writing about bar-mitzvahs and quinceaneras does not usually lead to great essays. It takes more work to help a student see this prompt as relevant and to realize that many of their actions show how they are now “adults.”Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 6.10.02 PM

Final thoughts.

It’s a shame that the one explicitly happiness oriented prompt is gone because I witnessed amazing essays emerge from students grappling with what it means to be content in complex situations. But I can imagine that many of the essays that never had any dimension frustrated and even bored admissions officers.

I wonder why the multi-pronged application with such reach is now making the long essay optional. Writing the essay provides teens with an incredible opportunity to share unique stories that communicate what they can offer colleges. Colleges that make it optional may be trying to up application numbers while missing out on a key source of original data.

I do thank the Common Application for including a wide range of voices in their surveys and displaying more transparency in their non-profit work.

Directions To Get Started:

We are so excited. Our All College Application Essays website and integrated mobile apps are up and running. Our updated Google app and Apple App, and the two are inter-connected, so you can use your log in information for both. NOTE: You can only purchase our service on our website–either on your computer or website. 

People wanting to get started using our new, improved site, just need to follow the following steps.Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 11.24.47 PM


1. Go to our website either on your computer or mobile device:

2. Sign up for an account. It’s easy to do.  Just go to upper right hand corner of page and click on sign up. Your user name and password enable you to access the site on all portals–website and apps. (See picture below of sign up page).

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 11.47.51 PM

Website on Computer Version of Packages


Mobile Version of Website (Package Purchase Button Not Allowed On Apps).

3. After you make an account,

      1 Website on computer useres: then click on Packages on the dashboard and choose your package.

      2 Website on mobile users, click on menu bars on upper left hand sign of screen. On drop down menu, click on packages and choose your package.

4. To pay, the site will take you to Pay Pal, where you can use your account or just enter your credit card data as a guest user. It’s secure, and I never receive your account info. All accounts are good for one year from purchase price.

5. If you have a google phone or device, go to the store, and download it for free at You can set up your account from the app as well. If you have an iTunes account, you can download the app for free and update your current app.

6. To get started using the app, after downloading it, just use your same username and password. The two sites are inter-connected. They update automatically, and require you to be connected to the internet to use.

7. Former users of our app, will need to create a new account as we upgraded our services and are now working on a 12 months user contract. It takes so much labor to update each year that we believe the new payment system is only fair.

Make Your Stories Pop: 10 College Application Essay Guiding Questions

Working on the drafts of your personal statements for your college applications? The drafting process is critical and can help make your stories and messages clearer.  Please be willing to draft and re-write to make your essays stronger.

Here are 10 questions to help guide you through the editing process. I hope they can help make your stories pop on the page and help you get admitted to your match colleges and receive lots of scholarship money.

  1. Does your essay start with a story that hooks us in from the first paragraph?all college essays
  2. If you start in the past, do you get to the present very quickly? Colleges want to know about the recent you. Great essays can start more recently and weave in past events.
  3. Do you write only in the first person and not spend too much time describing anyone or anything else? Use my one-third-two-third rule. You may not spend more than 1/3 of the essay describing anything other than your own activities and goals.
  4. If you are writing about your community or family, do you get to the present and your life and life works quickly? Can this description only connect to you and your story of who are you and how you are making a difference?
  5. Do you only tell one story and not try to tell your entire life story?
  6. If you are writing about an obstacle or challenge overcome, do you get to how you have responded and made a difference in the life of your community by the second or third paragraph of the essay? Admissions officers want to know who are you and how you make an impact drawing upon your obstacles or challenges.
  7. Do you have a metaphor that goes through the entire piece…does this metaphor reveal who you are and what you offer to potential colleges? You can embed this metaphor throughout out your piece.
  8. Can I close my eyes and picture your story? Does it make you sound unique and not like anyone else applying? Can I see your leadership and initiative and the power of what you will offer a college campus?
  9. Do you tell new stories and qualities in each separate essay your write? Do you make sure to reveal powerful information and core messages that colleges will need to know to admit you and give you money to attend?
  10. Endings-Do you end with a bang? Do you make it clear by the end you have goals and aspirations that drive you. Your endings must be specific for some prompts like the University of California and University of Texas, but can be more oblique and implied in Common Application and many supplementary essays. Do you end leaving the reader with the desire to get to know you more, to see you on his or her campus, and to share your essay with someone else?

uchicagCollege applicants next year will have more application options as the University of Chicago is joining the Universal Application.

“We decided to announce we will join the Universal College Application for the next application year now because we want applicants, families, recommenders, and the Higher Education community to know of our commitment to providing them with an application option that is easy to use, reduces Continue reading

New Version and Dr. Joseph to Speak at 2013 NACAC

We released version 2.7 of the app two days ago. It fixes all bugs. Please let me know if that works. Thank you for patience and for using our application.

Will you be attending NACAC? Dr. Joseph is presenting with admissions officers from Michigan and Yale on Saturday, September 21.

E10. Communicating Their Stories: Strategies to Help Students Write Powerful College Application Essays

Saturday, September 21, 2013

8:30 AM – 9:45 AM

Room 808

College application essays help students communicate their unique voices and stories and, therefore, become three dimensional to admission officers. Brainstorm ways to help students craft powerful college application essays that reflect core qualities not evident in the application, discuss what admission officers seek in application essays and interpret new Common Application essay prompts and mandated word limits. Learn ways to integrate essay writing into English or advisory classrooms and critique essays to learn strategies to coach students through essay writing.


2013-2014 Ohio State Writing Supplement

No General Ohio State Questions. Just for specific programs.

ohio state

(To see these specific essays, you must click yes in Ohio State Members Questions under Academics.)

These applications are due November 1.

Morrill Scholars Program

Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Morrill Scholars Program Essay Prompt: How can you enrich the campus community and serve as an ambassador for diversity? What specific experience(s) and/or leadership efforts have you had that showcase your awareness and commitment to diversity? (To learn more about the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Morrill Scholars Program visit (Required for this program, 350 word max, Paste in.)The Morrill Scholars Program is offered through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and seeks to reward leadership and academic excellence through diversity. Learn more at Applicants who submit the Common Application and all required materials (test scores, letter of recommendation, transcripts, etc.) by November 1 will receive priority consideration for this program. Note: you must complete the MSP essay prompt in the Writing Supplement. (Required, 350-500 words, Paste in)

 Honors and Scholars Program

Ohio State’s Honors and Scholars programs serve high-ability, motivated undergraduate students. Learn more at Applicants who submit the Common Application and all required materials (test scores, letter of recommendation, transcripts, etc.) by November 1 will receive priority consideration for these programs. Note: you must complete the Honors and Scholars essay prompt in the Writing Supplement.

University Honors and Ohio State Scholars Essay Prompt: How do your individual passions and interests align with one or more of the G.O.A.L.S. of the Honors & Scholars Center? (To learn about the G.O.A.L.S. visit (Required for these programs, 350-500 words, Paste in)



2013-2014 Wellesley Writing Supplementwellesley

The required Wellesley “Writing Supplement,” asks you to respond to the following in two well-developed paragraphs (no more than 400 words).



When choosing a college community, you are choosing an intellectual community and a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but it’s a good place to start. Visit the Wellesley 100 ( and select one or two items that attract, inspire, or energize you. Have fun with this and use this opportunity to reflect personally on what items appeal to you most and why.

2014 Indiana University and Arizona State Apps Are Up

Indiana University releases first mandatory essay. Yeah. indiana univ

All freshman applicants are required to submit a brief personal statement as part of the admission application. You will be asked to share any information about your background or experience that may not be readily available from the application or supporting documents, such as any special circumstances related to your academic performance and/or why you are interested in attending IU. You are limited to 300 words.

Arizona State App and Its 2014 Barrett College Essay are out.

Arizona State has not application essay.

2014 Barrett Honors College Essay

arizona stateOne long essay for underclassmen. Two essays for upperclassmen.

Upload in word or as PDF.

The essay is an exceptionally important component of your application to Barrett. It adds a personal dimension to your application and helps us to see you as a whole person. It also helps us to assess your ability to write effectively. Please write an essay of less than 500 words that answers one of the following three questions:


1. Discuss how a particular work of music, literature, or art has inspired your educational path.

2. Describe your most significant academic achievement or intellectual endeavor. Highlight how it will influence your undergraduate education or goals for the future.

3. Barrett is composed of students from diverse backgrounds with distinctive life experiences. Explain how your cultural traditions (national, ethnic, religious, or other facets of your background) shape your view of the world around you.

If you are applying for Upper Division enrollment consideration, a second essay of less than 250 words that explains why you would like to be a part of Barrett is also required.

These essays must be composed in PDF or Microsoft Word format and can then be uploaded to the Barrett online application.