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How to Get a Strong Start on the American University Supplement


UPDATE: As of July 2019, American University has removed its AUX supplement.  The  "Why AU" supplement is still required.

American University provides students with a hands-on education in the nation’s capital, but if you want to be an Eagle, you have some writing to do! In addition to the Common or Coalition Application, AU requires a supplemental essays. In this guide, we’ll provide a roadmap to the American University supplement.

Why are you interested in American University? (150 words)

In your response to this prompt, you’ll want to show the reader who you are and what you’re hoping to get out of college. In just 150 words, that can be a challenge! Start by filling in this template to create a statement of purpose: Because I am __________, I’m seeking __________.


Here’s an example:

  • Because I am passionate about theatre for social change, I’m seeking professional theatre training and opportunities to engage deeply with community issues.

Next, comb through AU’s website to learn about their classes, student activities, and other opportunities. Identify 2-3 resources that connect with your statement of purpose.

The student from the above example might choose:

  • Theatre Matters class
  • AU Rude Mechanicals
  • Volunteering with Arts for the Aging

Once you’ve connected your personal goals to specific resources at AU, you’ll be well on your way to a strong American University supplement.



Note: The following prompt was part of the application in 2018-19, but was removed for 2019-20.

All first-year students will participate in the American University Experience (AUx), a course specially designed for students transitioning into their first year of college at AU. Aux classes meet once per week as small, interactive and inclusive communities. The course provides a place for students to build academic skills for college success; learn about issues of privilege and bias; and explore their own personal identities. The course also models ways of communicating and living in a diverse society, particularly in reference to addressing divergent opinions on challenging topics.

How do you personally define an inclusive environment? What do you believe contributes to a diverse and accepting community? (400 words)

This supplemental essay gives you a fantastic opportunity to reflect on your personal experiences in inclusive environments. Avoid the temptation to get too abstract or philosophical. The reader wants to get to know you.

Step One: Brainstorm

Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pencil. We’re going to start by making some lists. Set a timer for three minutes, and list:

  • Any time/place you’ve interacted with people of a different background than you
  • Any place where you feel completely at home
  • Any environment where you felt safe to try something new
  • Any place where you felt comfortable voicing a dissenting opinion


Step Two: Reflect

Review the list you made. What do the inclusive environments you recalled have in common? Write 1-2 sentences to summarize what you noticed. This will be the guiding message of your first AU essay.

Here’s an example:

  • I’ve found that inclusive environments acknowledge difference instead of ignoring it. I feel most included when others accept that I am an expert on my own life experience.


Step Three: Identifying Your Contributions

Inclusion doesn’t just happen on its own; communities work hard to establish shared values and cultural norms. In your response to this prompt, you should feel empowered to share how you contribute to the inclusive communities you belong to.

For each of the inclusive environments you identified, jot down 1-2 actions you’ve taken to help others feel included. After this initial brainstorming activity, you’ll have all the tools you need to write a thoughtful and unique American University essay!


Click here for our guide to writing the Common App Essay



Prompt’s Essay Specialists reviewed 13,000 admissions essays in 2018, helping thousands of students submit their applications with confidence.

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