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How to Write a Great University of Pittsburgh Essay 2018-19

UPDATE!  Our new guide to the 2019-20 University of Pittsburgh prompts has been released.  Check it out here.

If you want to attend The University of Pittsburgh, it’s a good idea to answer the supplemental essay prompts. These Pitt essays are optional, but they will help you show that you’re a good fit for Pitt and increase your chances of admission and scholarships.

You can write all three essays, or just focus on one or two. We recommend answering as many as you can.

Let’s take a look at the first University of Pittsburgh essay prompt!


What Makes You Unique?

What makes you stand out from the crowd? What experiences have you had, good or bad, that make you unique? (200-300 words recommended, but can be longer or shorter)

This prompt gives you a lot of freedom with your topic. There’s no right or wrong answer, but since this essay will be short, you should focus on just one experience.

You could talk about a big experience you had, like taking on a leadership role, or something small, like helping a friend. Whatever topic you pick, try to make sure it ties in with one of your interests, values, or goals.

Let’s look at some examples of student essay topics:

  • Experience: Trying to start a business and failing, learning from mistakes and resolving to try again
  • Interest: Entrepreneurship


  • Experience: Helping an exchange student feel welcome
  • Value: Being inclusive


Impact on Community

How have you made an impact at your high school or within your community? Choose one example and tell us about it. (200-300 words recommended, but can be longer or shorter)

This University of Pittsburgh essay will help you show that your values align with Pitt’s. What is one awesome thing you’ve done to make your school or community a better place?

You could write about an experience you had with an extracurricular or organization, like volunteering for a women’s shelter, being a great student council president, or starting a #Trashtag group to clean up a local beach with your friends. But you could also write about something you did on your own, like teaching a kid in your neighborhood to ride a bike, or standing up for a classmate who was being bullied.


Act on a New Idea

If you could create a new product, process, business, or organization, what would this entity look like? (200-300 words recommended, but can be longer or shorter)

For this University of Pittsburgh essay, try to pick an idea that relates to one of your interests. Your essay will be stronger if you’re writing about something that you’re really passionate about. For example: If you love computer programming, you could write about an app you want to create. If you’re fired up about marine conservation, you could invent an organization to help reduce ocean pollution.

If you’re struggling to come up with a topic, try answering these questions: What is something you want to change in the world? If you had the resources to change it, how would you do it?

Finally, a quick tip about word count: The Pitt essays have an open-ended word count: “200-300 words recommended, but can be longer or shorter.” Try to stay within 100 words of the recommended range – so, don’t go under 100 words or over 400 words.


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