UPDATE: There have been some changes to the Emory essays for 2020-21. Check out our updated guide!
If you’re applying to Emory University, you’ll have to submit two short Emory essays along with your Common or Coalition App personal statement. These supplemental essays can help you show admissions readers some aspects of yourself not highlighted elsewhere in your Emory application.
Let’s look at how to pick the two best prompts for you out of the six options and how to begin generating compelling material.
Instructions: Students will write two short essays, choosing one prompt from each category with a maximum word count of 150 words for each essay.
Share about something you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community.
Choose this prompt if: your community, family, or background has strongly influenced your worldview and values. The community you focus on could be any size—perhaps it’s the friends you’ve made at the local bowling alley, or a global online discussion forum for antique airplane aficionados. Identify one or two significant ways this community has helped you grow as a person, develop new interests, or forge valuable relationships. Then, brainstorm how you might use the lessons you’ve learned from these experiences to help enhance others’ lives and educations at Emory. Maybe you’re itching to get an Emory Aviation Club off the ground?
Share about a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true.
Choose this prompt if: you can think of a particularly life-changing moment that opened your eyes to a different way of seeing the world. Although this prompt calls for you to reflect on some inner growth, you’ll also want to highlight concrete ways you took action based on this growth. Perhaps an inspiring math teacher changed your mind about math being boring, and you ended up diving deep into the subject, watching YouTube videos on math, and even competing in the Math Olympiad. A different approach might be to discuss how questioning a belief actually helped you reaffirm how much that belief means to you. For example, maybe you began to doubt your belief in the dire urgency of the climate crisis, but after studying the issue, you became more committed than ever to working towards a solution. Maybe you sought a summer internship with NASA to get involved with climate research.
Emory University’s shield is a crossed torch and trumpet representing the light of learning and the proclamation of knowledge. It symbolizes our mission to impact the world through discovery. What truth or knowledge do you want to see shared?
Choose this prompt if: you have an overarching interest or value that you feel guides your life and future goals. You’ll want to discuss the reasons this topic is so meaningful to you; you might briefly describe your early exposure to it, and touch on specific actions you’ve taken to learn more about it and share it with others. Also, consider how you might pursue this passion in college and beyond, as well as how you hope to use it to change the world. “Sharing” could encompass anything from raising awareness about the dangers of plastic in the ocean, to teaching underprivileged kids how to code and create apps. As long as it’s super important to you, it’s worth writing about!
“Tell us about you”
Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why?
Choose this prompt if: there’s some particular work that you’ve enjoyed over and over again and never get tired of talking about. Are your friends sick of listening to your eternally-evolving interpretations of Hamlet’s third soliloquy? Fear not: admissions readers may enjoy hearing all about it! You might choose a work because you could imagine yourself as a character in its story, or you might just feel that the work captures a theme or delves into a subject that’s especially important to you. So, whether you’re a modern-day, Milky-Way-based Princess Leia, or Pharrell’s “Happy” perfectly describes your personality and outlook, or you spend your days pondering the ideas in “A Brief History of Time,” be sure to show readers specific reasons that this work of art, literature, or music speaks to you and impacts your decisions.
If you could witness a historic event first-hand, what would it be, and why?
Choose this prompt if: you’re a history buff, or are simply drawn to a particular past event because it relates to a passion of yours. Don’t spend too much time describing the event; just use enough details to give a glimpse of how it might affect you as you experience it. Let’s say, for example, you’re listening to Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg address or watching Rosa Parks refuse to surrender her bus seat. Show what your thoughts and feelings might be in those moments. Then, consider exploring how this event relates to your current life or to current events that fascinate you. You might even briefly look to the future: how might you carry on a particular cause or apply a lesson learned from witnessing the historical event?
If asked to write a 150-word tweet to tell the world who you are, what would you say? (Yes, the actual Twitter character limit would likely be shorter than 150 words, but thanks for indulging us.)
Choose this prompt if: you’re social-media savvy and the type of person who might enjoy opening yourself up to the world. This prompt could also suit anyone who likes blurbs of all kinds—what’s your blurb? Think about what you most care about, how you spend your time, and what your goals are. Then, experiment with some creative ways of conveying this information in a tweet. How you say it can tell readers as much about your personality as what you say. Just make sure it’s not cryptic or incomprehensible; you want admissions readers to be engaged, not confused!
When you approach these Emory essays, remember: you’ll be able to develop your most compelling content by picking the two Emory essay prompts that excite you the most!