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How to Write the Emory Essays 2018-19

UPDATE:  There are new Emory essay prompts for 2019-20. Check out our updated guide here!

Emory University is a highly selective private research university located in Atlanta, Georgia. These short Emory essays let you show a side of yourself not highlighted in other areas of your Emory application.

Let’s look at how to pick the best two prompts for you out of the four options, and how to develop compelling material that suggests how you could make a significant contribution to the Emory community. (Note: the 2019-20 prompts haven’t been announced yet, but since 2017-18 and 2018-19 were the same, it’s likely that the prompts will carry over again this year. If not, we’ll update you in June!)


What do you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community?

Has a particular community played a meaningful role in your life? For example, perhaps you’re part of an online community of chess players, and the camaraderie, friendly competition, and discussions of tactics help you all to improve. Or perhaps your town has great pizza. Too silly? That depends. Perhaps there’s a local pizzeria where people meet, chat, study, perform music, play chess. Now pizza means a lot more than just pizza! Describe how this “pizza community” has enriched your life. Then think about how you might implement a similar community atmosphere at Emory. Organize a chess club or a weekly pizza meet-up?


What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, TV show, album, poem, or play)? Why?

Don’t choose something either for shock value or to show how intellectual you are. Pick something you love! Here’s a test: Would you read/watch/listen to/look at this work a second, third, or tenth time on your own initiative, just because you’re fascinated by it? If you choose something...odd…such as the Oxford English Dictionary, it might come off like a gimmick—but if you truly go spelunking through the OED every day, employ ten new words every week, and have figured out how to use “floccinaucinihilipilification” in a sentence, then perhaps you could make a case here. The important thing is to show that you engage with materials that stimulate you. You could also connect this work to your aspirations for college and beyond. Maybe you love the OED because you want to be a writer, and you’re excited about Emory’s prestigious writing program.


In the age of social media, what does engaging with integrity look like for you?

Emory knows that these days people show their true colors online. Students risk having their admissions offers rescinded if they engage without integrity on social media. If you feel you have a lot to say about the meaning of “integrity,” this could be your prompt! You don’t necessarily need to come right out and say, “Integrity to me means...” Instead, think about times when you’ve demonstrated this integrity on social media. For example, perhaps on your Facebook page you made a point of debunking “fake news” memes. Why were you compelled to do this? What did this teach you that you might apply even outside the social media realm, at college and beyond?

What motivates you to learn?

It’s fine to interpret “learn” here beyond schoolwork and studying. Can you think of times that you learned everything you could about something, not because you had to, but because you were fascinated? If so, you’ll have some great material for this prompt. Describe one particular experience, and how it affected your life. For example, perhaps a trip to the beach inspired a newfound obsession with seashells, horseshoe crabs, and jellyfish; you’ve started reading books and watching documentaries on marine life, you give your family marine biology lectures whenever you have seafood for dinner, and you hope to work on a deep-sea research station in the future. In this way, you’ll show the reader why such self-driven learning is so fulfilling to you, rather than simply tell them.


When writing these 150-word Emory essays, don’t waste words! Be concise and specific. And remember: you’ll find your most compelling material by picking the two Emory essay prompts that most excite you!

Click here for our guide to writing the Common App Essay

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