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How to Write Great Answers to the 2020-21 University of Pittsburgh Essay Questions

It’s a good idea to write the supplemental Pitt essays. They’re optional, but they will help you show that you’re a good fit for Pitt and increase your chances of admission and scholarships.

Pitt asks applicants to choose two out of four prompts. There’s no word limit for these essays, but Pitt’s instructions say, “The Admissions Committee reviews responses for quality rather than length. However, the most effective responses typically range from 200-300 words per question. Responses that are longer or shorter are acceptable." So we'd keep it at that length!


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

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to the Pitt community. Please identify and describe one element of your personal identity, and explain how that element would positively impact and/or progress the Pitt community.

When most students read this prompt, they will think about common identity markers like race, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and gender. But really, you could write about any element of your personal identity that will positively impact the Pitt community! Maybe you’re a theatre kid who has learned how to be a generous collaborator. Or maybe you’re a big sister who knows how to motivate and uplift others.

Whether you choose to write about your religious identity or your identity as a die-hard Cubs fan, make sure you address how it has shaped your values. How you will enact those values on campus? Which student organizations will you join? How will you impact them positively?


Resumes and lists of activities provide the Admissions Committee with an overview of your accomplishments. Please use this opportunity to provide more information by identifying one of your accomplishments and explaining how it has prepared you for a transition into collegiate life.

This prompt specifically mentions “resumes and lists of activities,” leaving out transcripts. That indicates that Pitt readers are most interested in learning about something you accomplished outside the classroom. What is one challenge that you are particularly proud of overcoming? Alternatively, how have you made your community or school a better place? What is one thing you have done to leave a lasting impact on your favorite student group or organization?

After choosing an accomplishment, make sure you describe the skills you gained from this experience. How will these skills help you succeed in college? How will they help you contribute to the Pitt community?


If you could create a new product, process, business, or organization, what would this entity look like? (We especially encourage applicants interested in the College of Business Administration or the Swanson School of Engineering to respond to this question.)

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?


With thousands of colleges and universities in the United States alone, discuss why the University of Pittsburgh is a good fit for you.

This is a classic “Why This College” essay! With this essay, we suggest you explain your educational goals and make a case for why Pitt is the next logical step in your journey. How will Pitt’s unique resources, professors, class offerings, and extracurricular opportunities help you reach your goals? You might also choose to focus on the University of Pittsburgh’s mission or institutional values and describe how they align with your ideals.

So if the University of Pittsburgh is your dream school, you'll want to set aside some time to dig into these essays. If you've taken the time to brainstorm lots of experiences for your Common Application essay, you'll have no shortage of topics!

Get started with our free brainstorming tools!

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

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