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5 Princeton Supplemental Essay Examples for
Are you looking for Princeton supplemental essay examples? You're in the right place. In this blog, we share five different Princeton supplemental essay examples to help you prepare for your own supplemental college essays . Whether you are applying to Princeton itself or another prestigious and highly competitive institution like Brown or Stanford , it is important that you ace your college essays.
Most of the top colleges have a holistic admissions process, which is why they often require supplemental college essays in addition to your personal statement. These essays tell them a bit more about the person behind the grades and extracurriculars. It also allows them to evaluate your writing skills and get a sense of your personality. All of these things can significantly affect their decision to offer you admission, put you on the waitlist or reject your application altogether.
Reviewing different college essay examples is a great way to learn how to write a college essay because it teaches you how to tackle different types of prompts and gives you a better idea of what is expected from your essay. So, without much further ado, let's take a look at a few outstanding Princeton supplemental essays.
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Article Contents 9 min read
Princeton supplemental essay example # 1.
Prompt: As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? - 250 words.
My record for solving the New York Times crossword puzzle is 12 minutes 45 seconds. That was three years ago, and I am still trying to beat it.
I have always loved puzzles. The kind of puzzle doesn't matter much to me - whether it is a jigsaw puzzle, a rubrics cube, a crossword puzzle, or a mathematical equation. I simply enjoy having something in front of me that requires solving, and once I pick it up, I can't put it down until I solve it.
I believe that this love for solving problems is what got me interested in maths in the first place. I find it fascinating that we can use maths equations to understand complex concepts like time and space and solve problems in various areas like engineering and economics.
I have been intrigued by mathematics since my first algebra class in middle school because it is the key to figuring out some of the world's most complex puzzles. I have participated in summer programs for high school students where the focus was on applied mathematics and enrolled in an introduction to applied Maths course at my local community college in order to build a strong foundation.
I am excited to learn about all the different ways we can use maths to solve puzzles in various disciplines, and I believe that the flexible and interdisciplinary nature of the maths program at Princeton would allow me to explore this interest in a way that no other school can. (250 words)
Prompt: Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. - 250 words.
"Which NASA are you talking about?" I asked my Princeton tour guide while struggling to pick my jaw back up from the floor.
She chuckled and asked me which NASA I thought she meant.
This exchange occurred last summer when I visited Princeton's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering labs. I was excited to learn that students from the Princeton Rocketry Club had been instrumental in designing tools for the space program. I couldn't believe that undergraduate students were getting to contribute to the exploration of space.
While I was excited to hear about this, I was definitely not surprised. One of the many reasons I am interested in pursuing my aerospace engineering degree at Princeton is that the program gives students a chance to explore, research, develop and invent independently.
I have been working on a solar sailplane glider since last summer, and I am confident that with the knowledge and guidance that I will receive from the great minds at Princeton, I can use my senior year independent project to develop this project further. My aim is to improve the functionality of solar-powered airplanes, and I know that no other school can give the tools and facilities to do that.
Lastly, I truly appreciate the fact that Andrea Goldsmith, the current dean of the school of engineering and applied sciences, is not only a brilliant mind but a woman who understands what it is like to be a woman in STEM. (241 words)
Take the time to research! In order to write a strong essay in response to this prompt, you will need to research Princeton's engineering school and the specific engineering programs so that you can provide specific details. The admissions committee wants to know why you are applying to Princeton's engineering program, and general reasons like \"it's a highly ranked program\" are not going to cut it. ","label":"Tip","title":"Tip"}]' code='tab1' template='BlogArticle'>
Prompt: Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. - 150 words.
When I first saw the flyer for community garden volunteers, I was confused. I didn't know we had a community garden, and more importantly, I didn't understand what a community garden was. That said, I had been looking for ways to get involved in my community, and I was intrigued.
Two years later, I am one of the program's coordinators. I have gotten to work alongside people I might have never met otherwise, and they have taught me about giving back, gardening, and more. One of my favorite volunteers, Marjorie, an older lady with pink streaks in her greying hair who loves to tell me stories about the sixties, has even taught me how to cook the best collard greens I have ever had.
I now understand that the community garden is there to grow food for the neighborhood and unite us by giving us a common goal. (148 words).
Princeton supplemental essay example # 4
Prompt: At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? -250 words.
I joined the Youth Collaboration Program at the end of my junior year of high school. It is a program that students from different schools in the city can apply for, and a select few are chosen to represent youth interests within the local government. I wanted to participate in the program to gain insight into the inner workings of local government and get practical experience.
What I did not realize is that this program is a collaborative enterprise and melting pot of ideologies, faiths, ethnic backgrounds, and socio-economic classes. Although I learned a lot from the program, I learned even more from the other students who participated in the program. We all shared our experiences with the representatives and each other. I particularly remember David talking about his cousin's body being stuffed into the trunk of a car after a gang killed him.
Prompt: Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. – 250 words.
I started listening to French music a few years ago when I learned that it could help improve my vocabulary. That is how I came across a song called "Lettre à la Maison Blanche," in which the singer essentially begs the white house and the United Nations to help with the situation in Rwanda. The song was so touching that I googled the singer and found out it had been written about the Rwandese genocide.
This led me to read about Rwanda and the fantastic progress that it has made as a nation since the end of the genocide. I was especially impressed by the country's efforts to conserve wildlife in the Nyungwe forest, which is one of the world's most biodiverse areas. As a volunteer for the Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS), I was able to spend last summer in Rwanda helping with WCS' education and outreach initiative.
It was one of the most enriching experiences that I have ever had. Not only because I am passionate about climate change but also because I got to travel, discover new cultures, and practice my French. This experience motivated me anew to keep working towards sustainability.
I would love to join the efforts of the students who run the many sustainability programs at Princeton. I am especially interested in the Princeton Environmental Activism Coalition (PEAC) and the Princeton Conservation Society, as I believe that my experiences with the WCS have given me the tools I need to be an asset to those teams. (250 words)
The Princeton supplement requires students to provide some additional information about themselves. Students are required to answer the three questions below in 50 words or less. We recommend using as many of those 50 words as possible. You’re given space for 50 words for a response that could easily be one or two words, so take advantage of that space.
Since these are not typical essay questions, you can play around with the format a little bit ( like in the example below) and get creative. Your responses to these questions should be honest but written with the audience in mind. Remember that the aim is to stand out and tell the admissions committee who you are. So stay away from generic answers, showcase your personality and highlight your strengths.
We recommend reaching out to a college essay review service if you have doubts about your answers or are unsure how to use these questions to showcase your strengths.
Now, here are a few examples to give you a better idea of how to tackle these short answer questions:
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
I started writing my bucket list on my 16th birthday, and one of the items on my list is to learn how to speak at least five languages. I speak English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. While in college, I'd like to learn Italian too. (43 words)
What brings you joy?
I derive joy from many things, including but not limited to the following:
· The smell of new books
· Warm chai lattes
· Color-coordinated closets
· Extended metaphors in rap music
· That eureka moment when you solve a puzzle
· Gilmore Girl re-reruns
· Dancing toddlers
· Musical sing-alongs ( especially Les Misérables)
· Funny puns
Writing college essays is not easy, and the Princeton supplemental essays can be especially challenging. It is important that you give yourself enough time to research and plan before you start putting pen to paper for these essays. There is no golden template for college essays. The key is ensuring that your essay tells a story and teaches the admissions committee about you. This is especially important if you are trying to get into college with a low GPA.
Make sure you use specific examples from your background and experiences and include detailed information about the school to show the admissions committee that you are interested in this school in particular, not just any highly ranked institution.
If you want your Princeton supplemental essays to be as impactful as possible, you should consider investing in college admissions consulting so that you can benefit from the services of a college essay advisor. They can guide you through the brainstorming, researching, writing, and editing process to ensure you submit compelling essays that will stand out and help you beat the competition, even if you don't have perfect stats.
Getting into Princeton requires a very strong application. Last year, the school had an acceptance rate of 4.3%, meaning that for every 100 applications received, only about four students were offered admission. So it is fair to say that getting into Princeton is no easy feat.
In addition to the Common App essay , Princeton requires undergraduate applicants to submit four supplemental college essays, one graded written paper, and answer three short questions.
You can make your Princeton supplemental essay stand out by having a strong introduction, including specific details about the school's programs or majors, and showing instead of telling. If you're not sure how to do this naturally in your essay, we recommend reaching out to a college essay advisor for assistance.
You do not need one, but we recommend working with one if you want to maximize your chances of writing the best essay possible. As admission professionals, essay advisors can provide insight that the untrained eye can't.
Princeton no longer requires applicants to submit the optional writing section of the SAT or ACT. Instead, it asks applicants to submit a one or two-page paper, essay, research paper, or essay exam from one of their academic courses that a teacher graded.
To be a competitive applicant for Princeton, you need a GPA of 3.9, as that is the current entering class' average.
Your Princeton supplemental essays are an integral part of your application. There are students with perfect stats who do not get in because of poorly written essays, so do not underestimate their importance.
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Princeton University 2022-23 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
Princeton university 2022-23 application essay questions explanation.
The Requirements: 1 essay of 200 words, 2 essays of 250 words, 3 short responses
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community , Activity , Why , Oddball
This is Princeton, the Number One university in the nation. Maybe you’ve heard of it? JK, we can smell the sweat on your palms from here. So first, take a breath. The Princeton supplement is extremely straightforward (perhaps too straightforward?) and your greatest challenge will be to refrain from overthinking it. Don’t intimidate yourself with visions of what you think admissions officers want to see on an application. Self-aggrandizing or downright false stories aren’t going to win anyone over. It’s the unique, specific details that only you can share that will set you apart and seal you in an admissions officer’s memory. Take this as your mantra: be yourself!
Activities: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (Response required in about 200 words.)
Take one second to indulge that impulse you’re feeling — to scour your resume for the most impressive-sounding activity. Then, crumple up your resume and think honestly about the activities you look forward to. What would your life be mundane without? Elaborate on an activity, experience, or relationship that you are super passionate about or that is unusual for someone of your age. Your response should reflect your priorities and how you process the world around you. Do you do civil war reenactments on the weekend that charge your love for history? Do you take care of stray pets that one day you hope to save through veterinary work? Do your weekly visits with grandma have you declaring a gerontology major? Use your experiences to tell Admissions something about yourself that they wouldn’t already know. What gives your life meaning? Why do you wake up in the morning?
For A.B Degree Applicants or Those Who are Undecided:
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. what academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at princeton suit your particular interests (please respond in about 350 words) .
To ace this question, you’ll need to articulate for admissions why a well-rounded liberal arts education is important to you. Do you think Princeton’s liberal arts curriculum will allow you to build upon your communication and problem solving skills, preparing you for a career in civil service? Maybe you think it will help you be more marketable once you enter the working world, preparing you to work in a variety of fields (which is especially helpful if you’re undecided). What classes are you dying to take? Which academic programs call to you and why? Demonstrate your interest in Princeton’s academic offerings (and liberal arts curriculum, for brownie points) and admissions is bound to be impressed!
For B.S.E Degree Applicants:
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at princeton. include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the university suit your particular interests. (please respond in about 250 words).
You can get an engineering degree at thousands of schools across the country, so why are you so keen to study engineering at Princeton specifically? Remember that this isn’t set in stone, so don’t stress over your vision; just show that you’ve done your research. Maybe your sister regaled you with stories about her experience studying engineering at Princeton, and you knew you wanted the same experience for yourself. Maybe there is an alum who is doing what you aspire to do, and you want to follow in their footsteps! Does Princeton have a specific program that many other schools do not offer? Whatever it is that draws you to Princeton’s engineering program, make sure that, after reading your essay, admissions has a clear understanding of your interest and goals.
Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.
1.) at princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. what insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future.
Engaging others in meaningful conversations about important issues can be incredibly intimidating and challenging; the Princeton admissions department knows this. That is, in part, why they are curious to learn about your experiences engaging with others on issues near to your heart. So, think back to identify a time when you had a conversation with friends, family, or even mere acquaintances about a difficult topic. Maybe you engaged your grandparents in a conversation regarding racial income inequality. Were you able to clearly communicate your perspective? If you were to engage them in the conversation again, what would you do or say differently? You don’t need to have changed someone’s mind to impress admissions here. You just need to show that you’re not afraid to speak up about important issues and engage with those who may have different opinions than your own. College will present you with a plethora of opportunities to meet and engage with people who are very different from you. Show Princeton that you’re game to learn, listen, share, and grow.
2.) Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
Princeton wants to welcome motivated, socially aware students to campus next fall, so tell admissions about a time when you gave back to your community in a meaningful way. (Hint: your community can be as small as your neighborhood and as large as the entire world, or even universe!) Maybe you’ve volunteered at your church’s food pantry every other weekend since you were a middle schooler, or canvassed for political candidates that you believe will generate positive change for generations to come. Whatever your examples may be, don’t be afraid to touch on what those experiences meant to you (after all, you do have 350 words to work with!). And bonus points if you can connect your past service to what you hope to do in the future.
More About You
Please respond to each question in 75 words or fewer. there are no right or wrong answers. be yourself, what is a new skill you would like to learn in college, what brings you joy , what song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment.
Do not, we repeat, do not overthink your responses to these questions. Admissions even goes so far as to say that there are no right or wrong answers. So, go with your gut. Maybe, in college, you’re hoping to learn how to speed read, or play frisbee, or even ride a bike! Perhaps you want to tell admissions about the look on your sister’s face everytime you agree to play dress-up with her (what brings you joy?). As for the song, we’d recommend keeping it clean, but other than that, let your freak flag fly. Are you currently listening to “Midnight Sky” by Miley Cyrus on repeat? Or maybe “Ooh La La” by The Faces really resonates with you as you’re growing up and learning life’s tough lessons. Whatever it may be, be true to yourself and you’ll ace these short answers.
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The 6 Princeton Supplemental Essays: How to Respond
Bonus Material : PrepMaven’s Supplemental Essay Spreadsheet
Many top-tier universities and colleges in the U.S. now require applicants to submit at least one additional essay.
Princeton University is one of these colleges. It actually requires students to respond to 6 short supplemental prompts.
What are the prompts for Princeton’s supplemental essays? And how should you respond to each?
We’ve got the answers to these questions in this post. We also give readers access to a great resource: the most selective 50 U.S. colleges and their supplemental essays for 2022-2023, in one easy-to-read spreadsheet. Grab it below.
Download Supplemental Essay Spreadsheet
Here’s what we cover:
The 6 Princeton Supplemental Essay Prompts
- Bonus: PrepMaven’s Supplemental Essay Spreadsheet
Princeton University requires applicants to submit responses to 6 supplemental essay prompts. We recognize that this sounds daunting, but keep in mind that the word length of these essays is relatively short.
Here’s the breakdown:
- 1 150-word response
- 2 250-word responses
- 3 50-word responses
Princeton also requires applicants to submit one graded academic paper as part of their application. (We will not be addressing this in this post.)
Prompt #1: Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words )
Prompts #2 and #3: Your Voice
Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words .
At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?*
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.*
Prompts #4, #5, and #6: More About You
Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer . There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
What brings you joy?
What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
How to Respond to the 6 Princeton Supplemental Essay Prompts
In this section, we’ll provide our advice for responding to each of these supplemental essay prompts.
Essay Prompt #1: Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (please respond in about 150 words).
Because they only have 150 words to respond to prompt #1, students should feel comfortable taking this prompt fairly literally.
They should discuss the following in their response:
- Relevant details of this activity, organization, work experience, or hobby, including their role (past/present), responsibilities, and/or general relationship to it
- A brief discussion of why this was/is meaningful
Keep in mind that admissions officers will be most interested in learning about why this is “particularly meaningful to you,” as this will give them the most information about who you are as an individual.
For that reason, we encourage students to select an activity, hobby, organization, or work experience likely to:
- generate a lot of thoughts
- reflect at least one of their personal values or beliefs and/or
- showcase something that matters to them
If you’re having trouble brainstorming why this has proved meaningful to you, think about this activity, organization, work experience, or hobby in relationship to:
- what you believe in
- what makes you you
- what you’re passionate about and/or
- your professional aspirations
When writing this response, aim for declarative, concise sentences. Creativity is never off the table here, either! You might wish to include brief anecdotes, but be mindful of the fact that you only have 150 words and want to leave ample room for the discussion of why this is meaningful to you.
Here’s an abbreviated example of how you might respond to this prompt:
I never thought I had the courage to be someone else convincingly. Yet when I auditioned–by chance–for my school’s production of “Spring Awakening,” I had an awakening of my own: theatre is the medium for telling other people’s stories, and I wanted to tell those stories. Since that first show, I have participated in multiple productions with my drama team and am currently president of the core group…
Essay Prompt #2: Your Voice
At princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. what insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future (250 words).
Students can once again feel comfortable approaching this prompt fairly literally. Princeton offers a lot of information here about what it’s looking for in applicants. In a nutshell, they want to bring students to their campus who aren’t afraid to have tough conversations with others, especially those with differing perspectives.
What’s more, admissions officers are looking for applicants who can demonstrate a certain level of self-awareness about what it means to have “respectful dialogue.” They want a response here that demonstrates your capacity to reflect on a difficult conversation and use what you’ve learned in the future.
This is very much in line with Princeton’s mission to encourage pluralism and respectful conversations, as Princeton President Eisgruber emphasized in his speech on the “art of disagreement” in 2017 .
Here are our thoughts on how to proceed with this prompt, given these considerations.
First, you don’t have to choose a conversation that went well . Maybe, for example, you had a discussion with friends about politics that went sideways–either due to your own input, another’s, or a combination of the two. The importance will lie in your ability to pinpoint valuable insights from this experience and be honest about what happened.
“Difficult” is also a relative term. Choose a conversation that felt personally difficult to you, for whatever reason . You’ll also want to highlight why this was difficult for you in your response, although you don’t need to spend a lot of time doing so.
If you’re having trouble coming up with something, call up a friend and discuss a difficult topic! Observe what happens. Take notes. Pay attention to insights.
In your response, you’ll want to spend less time discussing the conversation and more time discussing how you responded, what insights you acquired, and how you’ll use these lessons in the future. 250 words may sound like a lot, but they go by fairly quickly.
In fact, your essay should be dense with what we call “I” statements: sentences that convey your specific opinions, beliefs, emotions, and observations. Here are some example “I” statements similar to what you might want to have in this prompt’s response:
- I learned from this experience just how quickly people are apt to leap to hasty conclusions, but not for reasons that seem obvious.
- I am still learning what it means to listen, especially when listening to someone’s thoughts that differ from mine.
- I now strive to incorporate my awareness of fear–and how much it can influence our thinking–in all of my interpersonal interactions.
As always, be concise and use declarative sentences in your response. The ideas are what matter here, so give them room to shine.
Essay Prompt #3: Your Voice
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. (250 words).
Princeton’s motto is all about serving humanity: “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity.”
This prompt means that college admissions officers are looking for applicants who can reflect similar commitments to public service and civic engagement. Even if you don’t have a long history of volunteering, now is the time to discuss your ability to engage with these ideals, now and in the future (‘will intersect”).
The prompt also includes the phrase “your story.” We see this phrase often in supplemental essay prompts. It’s often used as a catchphrase for your specific set of life experiences that make you you. So keep this in mind as you brainstorm material for your response.
Ask the following questions as you brainstorm:
- What acts of service have I completed recently?
- What does service mean to me?
- How have I been involved in my various communities as a citizen?
- How do I want to be involved in my community in the future from a service standpoint?
- What is service going to mean to me in the future? Does it have anything to do with my professional aspirations?
- What does it mean to me to have a civic duty?
Keep in mind that “service” doesn’t just mean community service. It can involve anything that has to do with helping others on any scale. You don’t have to have started a non-profit organization to answer this question sufficiently!
Remember that the most important part of your response will be active reflection. Give ample room, for example, to “I” statements like the following:
- I wish to be a teacher because of education’s capacity to cultivate values.
- My experience teaching Spanish to local inmates has taught me how significant language is on any scale.
- While I have had limited opportunities to engage in community service in high school, I look forward to grounding all of my scholarly pursuits in civic engagement , especially when it comes to fundamental human rights.
Students who wish to discuss a specific experience with service may wish to start with an anecdote, as in the following example.
That Thanksgiving, I assumed I would be taking part in the usual lineup of holiday festivities: baking all day, watching football, and socializing with relatives. But when my father suggested we volunteer at the local soup kitchen, things took a different turn.
Regardless, this essay should give readers a clear understanding of how an applicant has engaged with service (or will be engaged with service) . Keep in mind that this essay prompt is under the heading of “Your Voice,” so make sure you are writing from a place of honesty, even if you have yet to develop a relationship to civic engagement or public service.
Essay Prompt #4: More About You
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college (50 words).
Prompts #2 and #3 are ones that encourage deep reflection on specific values. With the next three prompts, Princeton is urging applicants to simply flaunt their authentic selves. Hence the injunction to “be yourself” here.
Keep this in mind as you approach each of the three final prompts.
You also don’t have much room at all–a 50-word limit will go by very quickly. Aim to be direct, concise, and as specific as you can with all three of these prompts.
With Prompt #4, we recommend thinking about your current skillset first, then identifying what you feel is missing or what you really wish you had. “Skill” is a broad term, so build a list that includes the following:
- Academic or research skills
- Interpersonal or social skills
- Professional skills
- Artistic skills
- Leadership skills
- Any other proficiency or talent that you might have
You don’t have to discuss a large-scale skill, like “diplomacy” (although you sure can). Nor do you have to discuss an academic skill, as academics are only part of the college experience (although you sure can).
Choose a skill that showcases a specific side of who you are, and then think about why you wish to acquire this skill in college. You will likely only have room to discuss the “what” and the “why,” given the 50-word limit.
Here is an example:
I have always relished independent research, but I recognize the value of working with others on scholarly projects. I thus look forward to learning how to truly collaborate with my peers inside and outside of the classroom and to value diverse, contributing voices.
Essay Prompt #5: More About You
What brings you joy (50 words).
It is easy for students to overthink this question. Yet we recommend approaching this question quite literally.
What makes you happy, every time? Build a list of things that make you smile or flood you with that feeling of exhilaration.
This list should include things that feel both “big” and “large.” It can span anything–activities, experiences, sights, sounds, a specific person–as long as it is authentic.
Here’s an example list:
- Watching my favorite sports team win a championship
- Making someone else happy
- Cooking a difficult recipe
- Random dance parties
- Setting goals
- Spending time with my grandmother
- Jane Austen
Ultimately, choose the item that showcases a distinct and new part of who you are in relation to your responses to the other essay prompts. It’s also important to think about why this item brings you joy, as you will have room to mention this reasoning (but not much more than that).
Every time I open my “Slow Fires” Cookbook–a compilation of exquisite Michelin-star recipes–my pulse quickens. Each recipe I create, which often requires an entire challenging day of chopping, stirring, and monitoring, brings me joy for what it teaches me about the power of flavor and perseverance in the kitchen.
Essay Prompt #6: More About You
What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment (50 words).
Once again, try not to overthink this question.
We recommend starting by identifying some of your favorite songs. Do any of these feel particularly meaningful to you at this given moment? If so, why?
It can also be helpful to think about common themes in your life at this moment in time and match them to specific songs. Choose a theme that represents a side of you you have not necessarily discussed at length in your application.
Here’s a sample list of such “themes:”
- Personal challenge
Once you’ve chosen a song, identify the “why” behind it and any other relevant context. You will likely only have room to identify the song, its “why,” and very brief context.
Here’s an example:
“Where is the Love” by the Black-Eyed Peas reflects my desire to let compassion guide all of my decisions and actions and commitment to a career in public service. It also never fails to make me dance.
Download Our Supplemental Essay Spreadsheet
Princeton’s supplemental essays may not be the only ones on your list. If you’re applying to several top-tier colleges, we’ve got a great resource for you.
We’ve compiled the supplemental essay prompts for the most selective 50 U.S. colleges and universities in one FREE easy-to-access spreadsheet!
Here’s what you’ll get:
- The supplemental essay prompt(s) for the most selective 50 U.S. colleges / universities
- Word limits for each prompt
- Application deadlines for each (early and regular)
Kate is a graduate of Princeton University. Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.
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2022-23 Princeton Supplemental Essays – Prompts and Tips
Princeton University’s 3.98% acceptance rate for the 2021-22 freshman class was the lowest in school history. When applying to an Ivy like Princeton, even applicants with perfect GPAs and test scores need to find a way to stand out from a pack of equally-credentialed teens. Fortunately, the Princeton supplemental essays provide just such an opportunity. These compositions present the chance for wanna-be-Tigers to showcase superior writing ability. This is an opportunity to craft responses that are authentic, honest, compelling, and potentially needle-moving to the admissions office.
(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Princeton? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into Princeton: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)
Below are Princeton’s essay prompts for the 2022-23 admissions cycle with accompanying advice about how to tackle each one:
Princeton Supplemental Essays – Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (please respond in about 150 words)..
Take the university at their word and select an activity that is “particularly meaningful to you.” This does not necessarily mean the activity/activities where you earned the most prestigious accolades or held the highest position of leadership (although it could). The school is going to view all of your activities in that section of the Common App —which of those is crying out for more explanation and detail? Which one is closest to your heart and most representative of your unique passions? Pick that one and fire away!
Princeton Supplemental Essays – Your Voice
Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.
1) At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
It’s no secret that we live in a polarized culture, where there seems little room for constructive dialogue between individuals with competing viewpoints. This is a chance to show that you are an open-minded, intellectually curious, truth-seeking young person who is willing to engage in conversations/debates with people who hold opposing positions on important topics. One key thing to remember when addressing this prompt is that you don’t have to be the hero of the anecdote. In fact, you may be one who learned to expand their thinking.
2)Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
Remember, the admissions committee has already seen the President’s Volunteer Service Award and the number of hours you volunteered at multiple nonprofit organizations. This shouldn’t be a recap of already-presented information. Rather, applicants should strive to share issues close to their heart. We encourage you to share specific details about a time (or two) that you were civically engaged or volunteered on a community service project. Most students will enter something generic in this essay. You can be one of the few who writes something so personal and heartfelt that the admissions reader takes note.
More About You
Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!
1)What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
You can be straightforward, offbeat, or highly-creative on this one—all with equal effectiveness. The straightforward answer would be something directly related to Princeton’s programmatic or extracurricular offerings. Discussing particular character traits, work habits, or social goals you hope to pursue are fair game as well. If you really hope that college is when you finally take the time to pursue a new hobby, go ahead and share those aims in this space. It could be anything: crossword puzzles, stand-up comedy, yoga, genealogy, journaling, etc.
2)What brings you joy?
What brings you great pleasure and happiness? Universal experiences of joy like family, a beautiful sunset, smiling children, or your cat or dog curled on your lap are perfectly acceptable answers here. However, you could also talk about dreams for the future, more bittersweet moments, abstract thoughts, moments of glorious introversion, or a time that you unexpectedly felt joy.
3)What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
As Plato wrote, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Music can express emotions that are beyond words. What stirs up deep feelings of connection within your soul? Be honest. It doesn’t have to be Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Rather, it might be a piece by Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, or Lana Del Ray. Don’t be afraid to share what music you genuinely connect with even if it isn’t “high-brow”.
How important are the Princeton supplemental essays?
Princeton rates the essays as being a “very important” factor in their evaluation process. The essays are listed alongside GPA, the rigor of high school coursework, class rank, extracurricular activities, recommendations, talent/ability, and character/personal qualities.
Want Personalized Essay Assistance?
Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Princeton supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).
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5 Princeton Supplemental Essays That Worked
Are you applying to Princeton University in 2023? Or perhaps you're a parent curious about what it takes.
If so, writing great application essays is the most effective way you can stand out.
In this article, I've gathered 5 of the best Princeton essays that worked so that you can get inspired and improve your own essays.
What is Princeton University's Acceptance Rate?
As a world-renowned college, Princeton has highly competitive admissions. Located in Princeton, New Jersey, the Ivy League school received 37,601 applications this past year and only 1,647 of those students were accepted.
That gives Princeton an overall admit rate of 4.4%, or in other words only 1 in every 18 students get accepted.
Princeton University Acceptance Scattergram
While admissions into Princeton is difficult, this only means that your application essays have more of an impact.
To have your best shot of getting admitted, it's important you write stand-out essays in response to Princeton's writing supplement.
What are the Princeton Supplemental Prompts for 2023?
This year, Princeton requires applicants to write three short essays and answer three short answer questions. Princeton also requires that you submit a graded academic paper as a part of your application.
The questions on this page are being asked by Princeton University:
Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
- Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words) (1-200 words)
Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.
At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? (50-350 words)
- Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. (50-350 words)
More About You
Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college? (1-50 words)
What brings you joy? (1-50 words)
What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment? (1-50 words)
Princeton requires you to submit a graded written paper as part of your application. You may submit this material now or any time before the application deadline. If you choose not to upload the required paper at this time, you may mail, e-mail, or upload your paper through the applicant portal. Detailed instructions for our graded paper requirement can be found here.
Do you wish to submit a graded written paper at this time?
Upload the graded written paper here. (0-2000 words)
Additional Information (Optional)
Please attach a document if you wish to provide details of circumstances or qualifications not reflected in the application. (0-2000 words)
5 Princeton University Essays That Worked
Here are 5 of the best Princeton essays that worked, inclunding responses to Princeton's writing supplement.
I've also included some Common App essays written by admitted Princeton students.
Princeton University Essay Example #1
Princeton university essay example #2, princeton university essay example #3, princeton university essay example #4, princeton university essay example #5.
Prompt: Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words) (200 words max)
For the past five years, I have participated in a service group called CTeen (Chabad Teen Network) . It is comprised of about twenty-five Jewish teenagers from surrounding high schools. Every Sunday morning we have breakfast and class with our rabbi. We discuss current events and world dilemmas from a Jewish point of view. These discussions have deepened my understanding of Judaism and brought me closer to other members of CTeen. Through CTeen I have met many of my closest friends. My chapter annually travels to Brooklyn for a shabbaton in Crown Heights with 200 other CTeen chapters from around the world. Every year during this time I am imbued with the dedication of my community to our faith, and I experience a heightened connection to both Judaism and my friends . As president of my CTeen chapter and member of the International CTeen Leadership Board, I continue to be impacted by the authentic ideas and dedicated people I meet.
Why This Essay Works:
- Detailed Descriptions This essay provides good specifics that elaborate on their extracurricular activity. It is specific where possible, which helps provide context and make more compelling.
What Could Be Improved:
- Address the "So What?" This essay touches on the impact of this activity (connection to their religion and friendship), but it could go deeper. The takeaways in this supplement are somewhat surface-level, which is fine to start, but ideally would be expanded upon and more in-depth.
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Prompt: Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (200 words max)
Two summers ago I took AP Chemistry at Northwestern University through the Equinox Program. Taking an entire AP class in five weeks was extremely challenging; I learned time management, collaboration, independent living, and scientific laboratory and inquiry skills . This course really piqued my interest in the sciences, as it was my first exposure to chemistry at the university level. I became intrigued with the research happening in the labs I saw every day . My interest in research gained from that summer translated to last summer when I participated in Boston University’s Research in Science and Engineering program as a part of the intensive molecular biology practicum. I conducted scientific research with a group of my peers and learned many facets of university laboratory work. These experiences were pivotal to my passion for the sciences and guided me towards my interests in university level work.
- Focuses on Challenges By admitting when things are difficult, you aren't making yourself seem less capable. Instead, showing what is challenging is what admissions wants to see. Challenges are what cause growth and development, so they are important to address.
- Be More Specific In several areas of this essay, the author could be more specific to be more engaging. Rather than saying "the research happening in the labs" they could specify what types of research they witnessed. Rather than saying "these experiences were pivotal to my passion for the sciences," they could specify how these experiences gave them a new appreciation and for what areas of science in particular.
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Prompt: Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way. (250-650 words)
Last summer I participated in molecular biology research at Boston University. Surrounded by 39 other high school seniors, I perceived with new clarity how an inquisitive, curious mind must interact in an unapologetic manner. Entering lectures about the basics of molecular biology, most of us initially thought we knew a great deal about biology. I quickly realized my naivete, and once I accepted my own ignorance, I settled into a passive absorption mode. The looks on all our faces told the same story. Well, all of ours except Kelsey’s.
Brilliant and inquisitive, Kelsey exhibited no fear raising her hand and boldly asking questions. Even during the portions of the lectures when we were simply reviewing concepts of biology, she never ceased to question the current topic. The first few times she asked questions, I thought she had little background knowledge so she just needed clarification. Yet as the first week progressed, I realized that not only did she have the background information required for this course but also the grit and determination needed for success in research. The levels of her questions stumped our lecturer at times and he responded, “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”
Often I just wanted to yell, “PUT YOUR HAND DOWN!!!”, as my tolerance for her constant inquiry began to erode while sitting through her questions and their subsequent answers. Due to her deep and thought-provoking questions, she became the class pariah; not necessarily because she was annoying but because of her resolute and indefatigable inquisitiveness. She was insatiable in her pursuit of knowledge, like a ribosome clinging to the endoplasmic reticulum.
Yet as the course progressed, I finally began to notice the value of Kelsey’s questions. She asked questions of importance, questions researchers must ask themselves every day. Her inquiries were thoughts no one else my age seemed to have. The depth and breadth of her ideas fascinated me, especially given that she was only sixteen.
Kelsey’s questions made me realize the importance of questioning preconceived notions.
Subsequently, I became aware of my own willingness to challenge concepts that were accepted and taught as seemingly concrete, and I recognized the danger of blindly absorbing information without disputing it. Seeing the scholarly nature of Kelsey’s intellectual curiosity, I began to emulate her queries during the final few weeks of the program. Not only did I get more out of the lectures, but I also gained the experience necessary to question ideas and facts and search for answers, a vital skill in every academic realm.
As a student with an interest in the sciences, I ask questions that may not have an obvious answer. As someone who strives for knowledge, I am willing to do research if what I am asking has no answer, but I do not simply possess an affinity toward knowledge. I wish to create it. Most young people cite coaches, teachers, or other adults as influential; however, for me, a peer-modeled approach to learning also has merit.
Common App Prompt #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. (250-650 words)
As I sat alone in a crowded airport, I felt both excitement and nervousness. I took my laptop and opened it to the Facebook profile of my third cousin Joey. I remembered how curious I was the first time I learned about his existence. He seemed just like me. I could not have been more excited, for I was on my way to New Jersey to spend spring break at his parents’ house.
It may seem strange that I was so eager to meet a third cousin, as most Americans have minimal contact with relatives as distant as third cousins. Meeting distant relatives meant expanding the family tree, forming new connections, and expanding support networks. Setting down new roots by travelling to New Jersey to meet Joey not only felt right but also necessary.
After landing and meeting Joey and his mom Alla, I felt awkward; we had absolutely nothing to discuss. Maybe visiting people I have never met was a mistake.
That night Alla explained to me that partner dominos was a family tradition dating back 50 years in the Soviet Union. I had never played dominos with a partner. Absolutely stunned, Alla cried, “YOU HAVE NEVER PLAYED PARTNER DOMINOS? HOW THE HELL IS YOUR MOTHER RAISING YOU? ” The rest of the night we played partner dominos, and let me admit, I was awful. Nevertheless, I experienced a strong sense of belonging and connection to my heritage by taking part in an old family tradition. That game broke the ice and made me realize that we share a cultural and personal connection; starting with that game, I actually felt like we were family members. Unsure of what else my mom had neglected, Alla inundated me with an entire rundown of my extended family. I learned that I could travel to almost every continent, knowing there would always be someone to whom I am related. Due to my family’s Russian heritage, I would always be welcome, adept at partner dominos or not.
A week later when I sat waiting for my flight home, I smiled. People whom I had just met, who had their own busy lives to live, took me in and made me feel welcome. At the end of the visit, I felt as if I had known Joey and Alla my entire life. I had to acknowledge that I had underestimated the need for extended family in my life. Furthermore, as I contemplated the transition from stranger to family member, my mind took me further to comprehend that whether related or not, I would live a more fulfilling life if willing to make vital connections. I consider every person with whom I forge a connection part of my “family” network, regardless of how remote. Though I had thought of “family” as merely a support system, I realized now that it is comprised of the people who, through powerful shared experiences, help one find a place in the world.
When I launch into the next phase of my life, I am hoping to forge relationships with roommates, classmates, and professors. As a global citizen, I am also dedicated to connect with others and help them find a place in this world, just like Alla and Joey did for me.
- Shows Personality It's important to create a "voice" in your personal statement, so that admissions officers can imagine your character and personality. Try to write as you would speak, but refined and polished. In this essay, natural-sounding phrases like "...let me admit, I was awful..." humanizes the author and makes the reader feel like they're being spoken to.
- Compelling Narrative This essay is a perfect example of how effective essays don't need to have a super unusual story to be compelling. What makes this essay's story compelling is not necessarily the topic itself (meeting distant relatives), but instead how the student reflects and makes interesting connections to broader ideas. Even seemingly mundane experiences can make for meaningful personal statements topics.
- Stronger Conclusion This conclusion works well by connecting to the main story of the essay. However, certain phrases like "As a global citizen" and "I am hoping to forge relationships" are potentially too generic. Instead, try taking your main idea (in this case forming connections with others) and broaden it or connect to more universal ideas.
Common App Prompt #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (250-650 words)
People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is…uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable. A couple of examples are that an equal number of pets are euthanized as are adopted each year and that cats roam the streets at night because they are actually looking for owners with better food. One of those statements is a horrible truth and the other is a thought I had in the shower. Either way, the point still stands. Uncomfortable truths are just that, uncomfortable. The answer to ‘Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist?’ is the most uncomfortable answer I can give, barring the current status of aboriginal street cats.
Sikhs like myself have borne the brunt of the backlash through our forced subjection to hate crimes, bullying, and job discrimination. In [Date] , a misguided gunman took the lives of six Sikhs who were praying peacefully in their house of worship in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Their families, through their tears, asked the nation, like I continue to ask myself, “Why?”
The uncomfortable truth is that as a society, we have not found a solution to the growing trend of extremism and hate crimes— we failed at the whole “freedom of religion” clause in the Bill of Rights. The media tells us that these crimes are carried out by individuals that are ignorant and motivated by hate. I would personally call them losers, but that would solve none of underlying system problems that have grown from anti-immigration rhetoric. When my cousin joined the US Army, he was told that he’d have to cut his beard and hair. Every time I tell that part of the story I can’t help but guffaw at how ridiculous it sounds. My then eleven-year-old angst came to a climactic fruition hearing those words—it was a call to action.
I helped to gather signatures for a petition to Robert Gates , then Secretary of Defense, pleading with him to allow Sikhs to serve without having to cut our hair. We garnered over 15,000 signatories , receiving generous media attention. We called and convinced our local congressional offices to support this issue. I created a Facebook page to help spread awareness, and helped to organize fundraisers to help fight this ban on our articles of faith. Our message is simple. Through service, we can push back against both hate and intolerance. But, if the largest employer in the U.S. does not allow us to serve with our articles of faith, then we will continue to be victimized as outsiders, contrary to the founding principles of our nation.
I’m proud to say my cousin deployed to Afghanistan as the first Sikh to be granted a religious waiver in nearly a generation. He saved countless lives as a doctor on the front lines of war and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his efforts. But, (there’s always a but) Sikhs today still face a presumptive ban. Despite being in perfect—for the army’s sake—physical condition, I cannot join the US Army because of my hair.
So now the uncomfortable story that was the uncomfortable answer to an uncomfortable question comes to an uncomfortable ending. And, like all great uncomfortable answers, I never really answered the main question. I don’t have the answers to why people do the hateful things they do. But by wearing my turban proudly every morning, by answering questions when they come up, by being willing to talk about everything that is wrong, I become a personification of what is right. My solution to the systemic problem starts with me.
- Central Theme Having a unifying idea is key to successful personal statements. Find your deepest idea or realization and focus your essay around that.
- Connects to Accomplishments Find a way to showcase your achievements while connecting to broader, more universal ideas.
- Strong Conclusion and Hook Connecting your ending to your beginning is a powerful way to bring your essay full circle. A great conclusion expands on your ideas introduced earlier, while leaving some room for more to be said.
These 5 Princeton essays that worked showcase great examples of responses to the Princeton writing supplement.
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Princeton University Supplemental Essay 2022-2023
Princeton Supplemental Essay 2022-2023
There are seven Princeton University supplemental essays that all applicants must write. While this may feel daunting, take comfort—each Princeton supplemental essay is on the shorter side. However, the Ivy League application process may feel exhausting. That’s why it’s important to start early. Then, you can dedicate sufficient time to every part of your application. This includes the seven essays that we’ll go over in this Princeton essay guide.
The first four essays are slightly longer, with word limits ranging from 150-250 words. However, the last three Princeton supplemental essays are very short—they’re capped at only 50 words. You can view the Princeton supplemental essays on Princeton’s admissions site .
Princeton Essays: Quick Facts
- Princeton acceptance rate : 4% – U.S. News ranks Princeton as a most selective school.
- 1 major-specific essay (~250 words)
- 1 work experience or extracurricular activities essay (~150 words)
- 2 half-page essays (~250 words)
- 3 short response essays (~50 words)
- Single-choice Early Action : November 1 st
- Regular Decision : January 1 st
- Princeton application note : In addition to your Princeton supplemental essays and the Common App essay, you will also need to send in a graded written paper as a part of your Princeton supplemental materials. Students can complete the Princeton application via the Common App or QuestBridge .
- #1 Princeton essay tip: Princeton admissions wants to further get to know you through your essays. Use your writing style and essay responses to show what you would bring to Princeton as a student and community member.
What are the Princeton essay prompts?
In addition to completing the personal essay on the Common App or Questbridge application, applicants will also complete seven Princeton supplemental essays.
The Princeton essay prompts have low word counts and cover a large span of topics. Through this breadth, the Princeton essays aim to let you show Princeton admissions who you are and why you would excel on campus. Let’s dive into the specifics of the Princeton essay prompts.
Princeton Supplemental Essays
We’ll walk through each of the prompts above in this Princeton essay guide. But first, you may want to learn about the application process from someone who’s experienced it firsthand. Read this application story from one admitted student.
Remember that with such low acceptance rates , Ivy League schools are always a reach. However, when applying to Ivies, all you can do is try to create the best Ivy application possible. This includes writing stellar essays that we’re going to outline in this Princeton essay guide.
Princeton Essay: Extracurricular Activities Essay
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (150 words), extracurricular activities essay.
The first essay we’ll discuss is the extracurricular activities essay. Your extracurricular activities essay will highlight one activity that means the most to you.
Princeton supplemental essays are a great way to add meaningful information to your personal application narrative . What do we mean by that? Well, a successful Princeton supplemental essay will not just repeat information that is already in your Princeton application. This extracurricular activities essay asks students to do more than just replicate their activities list.
Princeton application essays let you show who you are as a person beyond your test scores, grades, and activities. Sometimes, when students are asked to reflect on a particularly meaningful extracurricular activity , they simply reiterate information from another part of their application. However, this Princeton supplemental essay does not just ask what activity you’ve been most involved in. Instead, it aims to help the admissions committee understand what lessons you’ve learned from taking part in a meaningful activity. You should also discuss how this activity has helped you grow in other areas of your life.
What NOT to do…
Here’s an example of how not to approach the second of your Princeton University supplemental essays. Say you’re on the softball team , and this year you were elected team captain. This would certainly be a meaningful extracurricular activity! However, if you focus the essay on how you spent your season perfecting your pitching skills, you won’t be taking advantage of the opportunities this Princeton supplemental essay offers.
To respond effectively to the Princeton supplemental essays, you could talk about how being the softball team captain helped you to develop leadership skills. This might include effective communication or support for team members who lacked confidence. These skills are transferable to many areas outside of softball. They also represent your own personal growth.
Emphasize universal lessons learned
Whatever your extracurricular activity, focus this Princeton supplemental essay less on skills that are specific to that particular activity—such as writing a Model UN policy statement, mastering a challenging piano piece, or repairing a motor. Instead, emphasize lessons and character development that will help you in a variety of circumstances in college and beyond.
Since this Princeton supplemental essay is just 150 words, you should stick to writing about one extracurricular activity. Leave explanations of the activity’s mission and the role you played in the organization to the activities list. Then, you can spend most of your words elaborating on the lessons learned.
Princeton Essay Reflection Questions:
- Does your essay identify one extracurricular activity that is particularly important to you?
- Do you show your reader how this activity helped you grow in a way that can be applied to other contexts?
- Does your essay reflect on how you may continue to grow in the future?
Princeton Supplemental Essay: A.B. Degree Applicants & Undecided Majors
This Princeton supplemental essay prompt asks you to reflect on your academic interests and how Princeton will help you develop and excel in those interests. We’re going to focus on what that means if you are applying as an A.B. degree applicant or undecided. But before we jump right into this Princeton supplemental essay prompt, let’s clarify what exactly is an A.B. degree.
What is an A.B. degree?
An A.B. degree is a Bachelor of Arts degree. An A.B. degree focuses on the liberal arts and humanities. Many disciplines fall within this degree. In fact, unless you are going into the sciences or engineering , you’ll likely have a Bachelor of Arts. Majors such as architecture , economics , literature, foreign language, and history fall within this degree. However, there are many more.
There are 37 concentrations for applicants to specialize in within the Bachelor of Arts degree at Princeton. You can check out the full list of majors and disciplines offered at Princeton within the A.B. degree here .
There are many advantages to a liberal arts education. While Princeton is a top-ranked university, you may be interested in other schools that offer excellent liberal arts programs. Check out our list of the best liberal arts colleges for more inspiration. There, we break down the difference between a college and a university. We also highlight some of our favorite college picks.
Princeton supplemental essay prompt for A.B. degree applicants and undecided majors
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. what academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at princeton suit your particular interests (250 words), your essay must address two points.
Not only do you need to explain how and why you are interested in your chosen academic area , but you also need to highlight the role Princeton will play in your future. In your essay, you should show how Princeton will foster your academic passions and help you build your career.
First up, you will need to select at least one academic area of interest. If you already know your intended major, you have a great topic for the first of your Princeton supplemental essays. However, if you aren’t sure what you want to study, keep in mind that this Princeton supplemental essay does not ask you to commit to a major. Instead, you can simply talk about one or more academic subjects that interest you.
If you need help, try thinking about what subjects in school you have most enjoyed. Additionally, think about if there are any particular subtopics that you have found especially exciting. You can also look at the list of majors Princeton offers and explore department pages to see if any area stands out to you.
Connecting your interests
If you have multiple areas of interest—especially in seemingly unrelated fields, like History and Computer Science, or Sociology and Physics—you can absolutely talk about them both in your Princeton University supplemental essays. Pointing out unexpected ways that your interests intersect can even help you stand out in your Princeton application essays. Just remember that with a word limit of 250, there isn’t much room to go into depth about more than one or two academic fields.
Once you have selected an area of study for your Princeton supplemental essays, you’ll come up with a short list of examples from your life that demonstrates your genuine connection to the subject. You don’t need to include all of these experiences in your Princeton essays. However, justifying your academic interests with club participation, independent research, and/or personal experiences will show the admissions committee that you have thought carefully about your future and the role Princeton can play.
Not sure what counts as a “genuine connection” to your academic area of interest? Here’s a hint—salaries, your parents’ wishes, and the perceived prestige of certain majors and careers may play a role in your decision-making. However, they likely won’t count as genuine personal reasons for wanting to study a particular topic.
Connect to Princeton
Finally, remember that this is a Princeton supplemental essay—so your answer needs to show a connection to Princeton! Look through departmental websites, chat with current students if possible, and research extracurricular opportunities that connect to your chosen field. Make sure to mention at least one Princeton resource related to each subject you discuss in your Princeton supplemental essay.
- Does your essay identify at least one of your academic areas of interest?
- Do you demonstrate a meaningful, genuine connection to the academic field you discuss?
- Does your essay illustrate how Princeton can help you explore your academic interests?
Princeton Supplemental Essay: For B.S.E. Degree Applicants
So, if you don’t fall into the category of an A.B. degree applicant or an undecided major applicant, don’t get too excited. You didn’t exactly luck out of an essay. All applicants will either respond to the previous Princeton supplemental essay prompt or this one depending on their major.
So, the next prompt we’re going to outline in this Princeton essay guide is for B.S.E degree applicants. Now that we know what an A.B. degree is, let’s discuss the B.S.E degree.
What is a B.S.E degree?
A B.S.E. degree is a Bachelor of Science and Engineering. If you’re the captain of your robotics team or spend your free time doing your own science experiments, then it’s likely that this degree has caught your attention. Basically, if you plan to pursue a STEM major, then this is the prompt for you. Some majors that fall within the Bachelor of Science and Engineering degree are chemical and biological engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science.
Overall, there are 37 concentrations available to B.S.E. degree majors at Princeton. Check out the full list here .
Princeton supplemental essay prompt for B.S.E. applicants
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at princeton. include any of your experiences in or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the university suit your particular interests. (250 words).
This prompt is not exactly the same as our prompt for A.B. degree and undecided applicants. However, the basic guidelines are actually quite similar. When responding to this prompt, give some background on your involvement in STEM programs. Remember that you don’t want to just repeat your activities list. Instead, delve into the meaning and significance behind those STEM-specific experiences. How did they impact you? What made you decide to study engineering as a major?
Choosing your topic
First, brainstorm your experiences within the sciences. Then, try to choose the most important moment to mention in this essay. You don’t have many words to answer both parts of this question. So, focus on one experience that led you to decide to study engineering. Choose to write on a topic that was genuinely impactful. Your passion for this academic area should be evident in your essay.
Now that you’ve chosen the “why” of engineering, you need to answer “why Princeton?” Was there a certain program, internship, or certification within the B.S.E. degree that only Princeton offers? Get specific when answering these questions. Search for programs within the B.S.E. degree if you don’t already have programs in mind. The biggest mistake a student can make in this Princeton supplemental essay is giving a generic answer that could work for any school. So, make sure your reasoning is specific to Princeton.
Show your passion
Successful Princeton supplemental essays will show Princeton admissions why they’re so passionate about studying engineering at Princeton. Use your unique voice and writing style when responding to this Princeton supplemental essay. You can be creative and passionate while also answering the prompt completely.
- Does your essay identify your specific interests within the sciences?
- Do you highlight your passion for your topic?
- Does your essay showcase how Princeton will foster your STEM-related interests?
Princeton Supplemental Essays: Your Voice
Before you begin writing your Princeton essays, try these writing exercises . These exercises will help you narrow down your topics and themes for the Princeton essays. They’ll also help you to get inspired and in touch with your writing style and voice. That way, you can write strong Princeton essays where you sound genuinely passionate and excited about your topic. Remember, the best Princeton essays will highlight what makes you unique.
Princeton admissions urges applicants to write essays that show what they’ve done both academically and non-academically. This helps the admissions team get a better idea of who you are as not only a student, but also a person. As a part of some helpful tips from Princeton admissions, the site states that Princeton essays are your chance to “convey ideas in your own voice.” But, what exactly does that mean?
Write in your own voice
Writing in your own voice means that the words you’re expressing are essentially an extension of you as a person. The reader should be able to feel your personality through your style, tone, and word use. This may seem like a hefty task, but there are things you can do to find your own voice in writing if you haven’t already.
All of the Princeton supplemental essays should be written in your own voice and style. If you write your Princeton essays in your own voice and tell a compelling story, then you will be able to convey exactly why you should be admitted.
CollegeAdvisor’s Tips for finding your Writing Voice:
Set a timer for fifteen minutes and allow yourself to write on the topic at hand freely. Don’t think about spelling, grammar, word choice, etc. Just write what comes naturally. Read it over after you’ve hit your time. You’ll probably be able to pick out the most important themes and expand on them in a more “formal” way for each Princeton essay.
Write as you
This may sound odd, or maybe extremely obvious as we are talking about your voice. Still, this is one of the biggest mistakes students can make in their Princeton essays. Don’t write what you think admissions wants to read. You shouldn’t need a dictionary to read your own Princeton essays. Basically, don’t try to be the world’s best writer: just be you.
Show your personality
Hopefully, if you are writing words without trying to be anyone else, then your personality will come across. However, often in essay writing, students try to sound too formal. This can dilute your voice and personality. Yes, you should use proper grammar and a clean structure. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and show your personality through your writing style. Additionally, your personality will come naturally when writing about a topic you are passionate about. So, be sure to choose topics for your Princeton supplemental essays that genuinely excite you.
Know when you’re done
This can be difficult, but you don’t want to obsessively rewrite and edit your Princeton essays. Give yourself ample time to write your essays, but don’t over-edit. You want your writing to be sharp and mechanically impeccable, but you don’t want to lose your voice. With each edit, it’s easy to get stuck in thinking more about what admissions wants to read and lose who you actually are, which is the whole point of these essays. Your final essays should convey your personality; don’t lose your voice as you revise your drafts.
Voice can be tricky
Understanding voice when it comes to writing can be difficult. The words should seem like yours, but they also shouldn’t be overly conversational for the Princeton essays. To best understand how to use your voice when writing the Princeton supplemental essays, check out some successful Princeton essay examples. Use these Princeton essay examples to observe how each student used their individual voice but also thoughtfully and comprehensively answered the Princeton essay prompts.
Finally, the Princeton essay examples can serve as inspiration, but don’t try to copy their voices. A successful Princeton supplemental essay shouldn’t be able to pass as anyone else’s.
Princeton Essay Prompts – Your Voice #1
Now, let’s look at the next two Princeton essay prompts and get into the specifics of how to answer them completely while also showing your voice.
At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? (250 words)
Like many universities, Princeton aims to bring together students who are curious, willing to hear other perspectives, and able to reevaluate their own positions. The Princeton University supplemental essays help the admissions team to see if students fit these qualifications. This Princeton supplemental essay offers you the chance to demonstrate how you responded to different perspectives in the past. In doing so, it lets you show Princeton how you will engage with your classmates in the future.
Selecting a topic
There are two strong strategies for approaching this third Princeton supplemental essay. First, you could write about a time when you had a difficult conversation that helped you to change your thinking on a challenging topic. This approach likely requires considerable vulnerability and humility. However, it can be very powerful if done effectively. Second, you could write about a time when you challenged another person or group’s belief or practice. While this approach runs the risk of sounding preachy, it can also be very effective if you highlight your personal stake in the issue and show the reader why you felt it was important to speak up.
Whatever approach you select, make sure the tone and topic of your Princeton application essays are appropriate for the goals of this prompt. Debating where to grab lunch with your friends is not exactly a weighty issue! It should also go without saying that your Princeton supplemental essay should not conclude with you advocating on behalf of racism, sexism, or any other form of prejudice.
Telling your story
Beyond your choice of topic, the most critical component of this Princeton supplemental essay is how you illustrate that this experience helped you gain new insights. These insights could be a change in your own perspective. They also could be a better understanding of how others view a complicated topic. Additionally, you could discuss how the situation helped you understand your own perspective—especially if you learned something about your values and priorities.
Remember that this Princeton supplemental essay also asks you to think about how you will use your insights going forward. Though your response will look different depending on your situation, think about how you will behave or think differently in future difficult circumstances. This could be a continuation of the behavior you exhibited in your initial example, or your new insights could push you towards a new pattern of behavior. Whatever you choose, remember to be genuine, vulnerable, and honest.
Reflection Questions for your Princeton Essay:
- Have you chosen a situation appropriate to the tone of the Princeton supplemental essay prompt?
- Does your essay demonstrate vulnerability and reflection as you recount your difficult conversation and its aftermath?
- Does your draft illustrate new insights that influenced your perspective, informed future actions, or changed your relationship with another person/group?
- Does your essay look forward to how you may approach future conversations differently?
Princeton Essays – Your Voice #2
Like other Princeton University supplemental essays, the prompt below gives you a few options. First, you can discuss how you have been committed to service and civic engagement throughout high school. Alternatively, you can talk about the ways you will use Princeton’s resources to engage in these pursuits. The best approach to this Princeton supplemental essay will combine these options. In doing so, it will talk about your past, present, and future of civic engagement and service.
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals (250 words)
Articulate your reasons for involvement.
As you think about service and civic engagement, be sure to articulate your reasons for engaging with these goals. First, try to highlight any long-term, formal volunteer work. However, if you don’t have an experience like this, you can also talk about more informal projects. Say the bulk of your service work is mostly one-off experiences, like helping a neighbor weed her garden or tutoring a few junior high students in math. These are absolutely examples of service and civic engagement, and they can be a great fit for the Princeton supplemental essays. However, unless you clarify your underlying reasons for doing these activities, you run the risk of sounding disorganized.
Instead, you could frame your Princeton supplemental essay around your commitment to community. You might state that as part of that goal, you try to make yourself available to jump in wherever you see a need. Supplying these examples with a broader organizing narrative helps you to sound more intentional and thoughtful in your behaviors.
Structuring your essay
Begin this Princeton supplemental essay question by establishing your history as a civically engaged person in high school. Then, connect those experiences to ones you will have at Princeton. No matter your intended career field, there are plenty of ways to use this Princeton supplemental essay to establish your interests in service and/or civic engagement. For some majors—looking at you, political science—this Princeton supplemental essay prompt makes it easy. Connections between your academic field of study and opportunities for civic engagement may not be as clear in some other majors, but this offers you the chance to be creative.
Of course, when writing your Princeton supplemental essays, you do not necessarily need to connect your academic interests to the ways you intend to engage in service. Perhaps you are planning to study physics but also have a long-held interest in advocating for victims of sexual assault. Using your Princeton essay to tie together seemingly disparate interests can help Princeton understand your complexity and depth. Unexpected responses in your Princeton supplemental essays can even be stronger than those with obvious connections between major and civic engagement.
Focus on your growth
Finally, remember that this Princeton supplemental essay prompt asks you to illustrate your involvement in service and civic engagement in the context of your own story. Your Princeton supplemental essays should ultimately be about you and your growth. So, don’t just write an essay about a particular service project. Your essay should focus on how this project aligns with your personal values, how engaging in this pursuit has helped you to grow as a person, and how you hope to make a difference in this cause using Princeton’s resources.
- Does your Princeton supplemental essay identify at least one area in which you are civically engaged or involved in service work?
- Does your draft highlight your values and motivations for getting involved in your cause?
- Have you highlighted specific Princeton resources that can help you pursue service and/or civic engagement in college?
How do I write my Princeton supplemental essay?
In this Princeton essay guide, we’ve seen how to respond to the Princeton essay prompts specific to your major. Shortly, we’ll dive into how to write the remaining Princeton essays. However, when it comes to writing each Princeton supplemental essay, there are two important guidelines to follow.
#1- Make sure your essays remain specific to Princeton
While it may seem obvious, writing a generic Princeton essay is the biggest mistake an applicant can make. Princeton only accepted 1,500 students to the class of 2026, and that was their effort to expand the undergraduate enrollment. Just think of all the students who apply to this Ivy League university. If you want a chance at admission, then you need to write exceptional, and specific, Princeton essays.
#2- Highlight your unique voice
When writing each Princeton essay, make sure you write in your own unique voice and style. Princeton admissions won’t engage with a basic story about how you volunteered at a nursing home one summer. But, if you show us a snapshot of your volunteer experience that shows us how it was meaningful to you and gave you transferable skills, then that’s a different essay completely. Don’t be afraid to write creatively with your own personality. After all, your essay needs to stand out. Just make sure that you answer the Princeton essay prompts completely while doing so.
How Ivy League Admissions Officers Rate Your Application
When applying to a competitive school like Princeton, it’s important to understand how your application will be evaluated. Check out this article on how admissions officers rate Ivy League applications. Still, remember that you shouldn’t write an essay that reads as something you think admissions wants to see.
Princeton Essays: More About You
The final prompts that we’re going to dive into in this Princeton essay guide may seem like the easiest, as they have a 50-word maximum. This is a common tactic among highly selective colleges. When approaching these Princeton supplemental essay questions, remember that writing very short—yet compelling—responses is far more challenging than writing interesting longer essays. When figuring out how to get into Princeton and overcome the Princeton acceptance rate, every part of your application matters. Within these essays, the same concept applies. You should choose every word of these shorter Princeton essays carefully.
Princeton Essay #1
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college (50 words).
When writing your Princeton supplemental essays, remember to be creative. Try to go beyond the easiest and most immediate answer you can think of! Of course, you will learn to research, read, and manage your time in college. However, what are some more unique skills that you’d like to learn?
Your answer to this Princeton supplemental essay prompt can be academic in nature (“I’d like to learn how to read Medieval French and how to conduct formal archival research”) or non-academic (“I hope to master my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce recipe using only the utensils I keep in my dorm room”). Either way, this Princeton supplemental essay is all about a specific, concise answer.
Highlight your values
Your chosen skill for this Princeton supplemental essay should also reflect your core values. Perhaps if you go the Medieval French language and history route, developing that skill could help you achieve your goals of honoring the past and bringing little-understood experiences to light. If you want to master your grandma’s spaghetti sauce, that effort could align with your values of prioritizing family, expressing your creativity, and being thrifty with the things you already have.
When thinking about this Princeton supplemental essay prompt, please note that you do not need to try and impress those who will read your Princeton essays. In fact, they would much rather hear about a skill that you genuinely would love to develop rather than a skill that you think would impress them. After all, genuine responses to your Princeton supplemental essays help your reader to understand you better.
Bearing the word count in mind, you do not need to explain every detail of your response to this Princeton supplemental essay prompt. You should include enough detail so that your reviewers know what you are talking about. However, you can leave things a little ambiguous if it suits your purposes. It can often be effective to use plenty of figurative language to describe your chosen skill, how it interests you, and why you want to learn it in college. To go back to the spaghetti sauce example—you might describe to the Princeton supplemental essay readers what the sauce smells like, what different components taste like, and what the emotional experience of eating it with your grandmother feels like.
- Have you selected a new skill that you want to develop in college—not a skill you already have?
- Does your essay invite the reader in with sensory details to illustrate why this skill is interesting to you?
- Is your chosen skill something that you genuinely want to pursue, or have you selected something based on what you think your reader will find impressive?
- Does your essay fit within the very small word limit?
Princeton Essay #2
What brings you joy (50 words).
Like other Princeton supplemental essay questions, the very short word limit challenges you to say something interesting and genuine with significant constraints. Additionally, this Princeton supplemental essay asks you to respond to a rather profound question. So, it is critical that you find an answer that resonates with your readers and avoids clichés.
Let’s start with those clichés: responding with an obvious answer like “my family” or “nature” without any specific details virtually guarantees that your Princeton supplemental essays will be the opposite of memorable. Princeton University supplemental essays like this—where many people would respond similarly—don’t tell your reader anything unique about you. Instead, cliché responses imply that you rushed through your Princeton essays and wrote down the first thing you thought of. Even worse, it could suggest that you assumed this Princeton supplemental essay prompt was not important.
Keep it specific
A far better approach for the sixth of the Princeton supplemental essays would be to focus on small and unique details. Instead of “my family,” you could write about the secret look you share with your sister when something funny happens or the specific meow your cat uses when he wants you to pick him up. Rather than sweeping statements about nature, Princeton University supplemental essays like these should discuss the feelings you have when you wake up early to see the sunrise. Whatever your approach, drill down to specific and sensory details that can paint a picture for your reader.
At its core, this Princeton supplemental essay question asks how you see the world and interact with it emotionally. So, there are very few things that are wrong to talk about here. As with all Princeton University supplemental essays, no matter what you choose to discuss, highlight as many details as possible. Then, trace your emotional experience of joy for the reader. These strategies will help you use your own voice and provide insight into who you are. The clearer and more specific your source of joy, the stronger your Princeton essays will be.
- Does your draft have a clear answer to the Princeton supplemental essay prompt?
- Do you have sensory details supporting your answer?
- Does your draft highlight your emotional experiences?
- Does your essay comply with the word limit?
Princeton Essay #3
What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment (50 words).
This Princeton supplemental essay prompt is fun—a less existential version of some of the other Princeton supplemental essays. As with the other subjective Princeton University supplemental essays, there are no right or wrong answers. Still, you should stick to just one song. The rest of your 50 words in this Princeton supplemental essay should explain why that song is the soundtrack of your life.
You might use this Princeton supplemental essay to highlight something interesting going on in your life now. This could include an important relationship, an exciting milestone, or a particular emotional experience. For example, maybe after your summer job working for a local daycare center, the soundtrack of your life has become the theme to a popular children’s TV show. Maybe you have a favorite song that helps you de-stress before big exams. Whatever you choose for this Princeton supplemental essay, your readers want you to use this Princeton supplemental essay prompt to show the personal significance you attach to a particular song. So, make sure you share some context.
Strategies to avoid
Less effective strategies for this Princeton supplemental essay include listing very popular songs for the sole reason that they’re popular, responding with a non-specific reason (i.e. “it makes me want to dance”) with little explanation, or simply not providing any context to your response at all. Always remember that these Princeton University supplemental essays should show the admissions committee something new about you.
- Did you identify one song to discuss in your Princeton supplemental essay draft?
- Have you provided context or an explanation for why this song is the soundtrack of your life?
- Does your answer to this essay tell your Princeton essays reviewer something new about you?
More Princeton Requirements
In addition to your Princeton supplemental essays, you will also need to submit the other Princeton requirements so that your Princeton application is complete. Applicants will need to submit their completed Common Application, Princeton supplement (Princeton essays), graded written paper, and their application fee by the application deadline.
Princeton requirements include:
- Transcript. An official high school transcript needs to be sent by your school.
- School Report. This is to be completed by your school counselor via the Common Application.
- Counselor Recommendation. In addition to the School Report, your counselor will also need to submit a recommendation. You can “invite” them to do so on the Common App.
- Two Teacher Recommendations. Teacher recommendations should also be submitted via the Common App. You should ask for recommendations from teachers who have taught you in higher-level courses and in core academic subjects.
- Midyear School Report. This needs to be submitted by a school official when your midyear grades are available. Be sure to ask them to do so.
Princeton is test-optional for the 2022-23 application cycle. This means that applicants won’t be penalized in the evaluation process if they choose not to submit standardized test scores. However, if English is not your native language and you haven’t been attending a school for at least three years where the instruction is in English, then you will need to complete and submit the TOEFL, IELTS Academic, or PTE Academic.
There are also optional Princeton supplemental materials that you may want to complete in order to enhance your application. After all, given the low Princeton acceptance rate, you’ll need more than a good SAT score or an average GPA to get in. Use the opportunity to shine in another area that hasn’t yet been highlighted in your application if applicable.
For applicants who excel in the arts or opt for an interview
Students who’ve excelled in the arts may want to complete the arts supplement . Applicants are also offered optional alumni interviews. Once your entire application has been submitted, Princeton admissions will invite you to an alumni interview unless you’ve opted out of one. If you choose not to interview, you will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process.
Check out the complete list of Princeton requirements in order to submit and request everything needed for your application by the deadlines (EA or RD). Be sure to read the application tips before you apply as well.
Tips for Choosing a Graded Written Paper
As a part of the Princeton supplement, students are required to submit a graded written paper . Princeton admissions wants to see how students express themselves when writing in an academic setting. Keep in mind that this graded written paper should enhance your application by showing how you could contribute to the Princeton community. It should also highlight how you would excel in an academically rigorous and demanding environment such as Princeton.
Things to consider when choosing your graded written paper:
- You can submit essays, research essays, papers, exam essays, etc. The essay should not be a creative writing essay—don’t submit your favorite haiku.
- The paper should be from the last three years of high school. It should be a paper for an academic core course such as English, History, or Social Studies.
- The paper needs to have the teacher’s grade and comments if applicable. Supply a grading rubric if there was one as well.
- Your essay should be one to two pages in length.
Students are able to submit their graded written paper via the Common App or you can upload it to your Princeton applicant portal. You may also mail it to the admissions office.
Choose a paper that shows your growth
It may be hard to narrow down your options when thinking about all of your graded essays over the past three years. If one stands out to you, and you think it demonstrates your writing ability in an academic setting, then great. However, don’t feel limited to submitting your highest-scoring essay. You do not need to submit an A paper. Instead, you could submit a lower-scoring paper that shows a moment of growth or understanding.
Your Princeton supplemental essays should have a clear voice and personality. However, the aim of the graded paper among the Princeton requirements is to show your writing capacity within an academic setting. Sure, this paper will provide admissions with more insight as to who you are. However, it should highlight your academic accomplishments above all else.
Princeton Supplemental Essays & the Admissions Process
Remember that Princeton is one of the most competitive schools in the nation. In fact, it’s currently ranked #1 on U.S. News’ Best National Colleges list. While it may seem stressful to complete so many Princeton supplemental essays, try to think of the Princeton essays as another opportunity to impress Princeton admissions and overcome the low Princeton acceptance rate.
In short, the Princeton University supplemental essays that we’ve outlined in this Princeton essay guide aim to offer your reader insight into who you are, how you think, and how you can enrich the campus community. Princeton wants you to be thoughtful, honest, and creative in your responses.
Details and language
Remember that what makes your Princeton supplemental essays unique and memorable is not the experience you write about itself. Instead, the impact lies in the details you share and the language you use to express yourself. The more detailed your essays, the more your Princeton supplemental essays will reflect you as a unique individual rather than one of the thousands of applicants. Princeton essays are most effective when they help your reader feel a personal connection to you and an investment in your future success.
Focus on Princeton
While many of these tips can apply at any school, you are writing Princeton supplemental essays. Remember to anchor your experiences, hopes, and goals in each Princeton supplemental essay response to the resources available on campus. The more specific you are in your Princeton application essays, the better. You might mention individual professors or classes, hint at research questions that fascinate you, or explain how particular clubs and organizations can help you grow as a scholar and as a person. This will serve you better in your Princeton essays than just listing resources for which Princeton is famous. You want to use your Princeton supplemental essay prompts to demonstrate to the admissions team that you’ve explored the website beyond the first page.
Don’t brainstorm topics for the Princeton supplemental essays based on what you think the reviewers will want to hear. It sounds cheesy, but choose to write your Princeton essays on topics that genuinely matter to you.
5 Tips on How to Write the Princeton Supplemental Essays
Every student will tell a different story with their Princeton supplemental essays. Remember that you aren’t simply answering the Princeton essay prompts. Rather, you’re using the Princeton essays in order to enhance your application narrative. Since the Princeton acceptance rate is so low, you need to do all you can to stand out.
So, what are the most important things to keep in mind in order to make each Princeton supplemental essay a success?
Five tips on how to write your best Princeton supplemental essays:
#1- be specific.
We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s of utmost importance. Your Princeton essays need to be specific to not only you as an individual, but also specific to Princeton. Refer to specific programs, extracurriculars, or courses that are only offered at Princeton. Share meaningful experiences in your Princeton essays that highlight your unique connection to the school.
#2- Have a voice
Be sure that your writing voice comes across in each Princeton supplemental essay. Don’t write your Princeton essays thinking only about what admissions wants to see. These essays should show your unique personality.
#3- Choose topics carefully
The topics that you choose to write about will make or break your essays. That doesn’t mean that the topic itself matters—it’s how you write about it. You need to choose topics that you are genuinely passionate about. That’s the only way that your authentic voice and personality will shine through in each Princeton supplemental essay.
#4- Fully answer the Princeton essay prompts
Don’t get carried away artfully and creatively painting a beautiful scene with words and then forget to answer half of the prompt. Make sure that your writing has style, but also answers each prompt thoughtfully, carefully, and completely.
#5- Start early
The best way to write successful Princeton supplemental essays is by giving yourself ample time to brainstorm, draft, and revise. These essays are likely a stressful part of the application process. Rushing them will amplify that stress. Do yourself a favor and start the process early in order to write your best Princeton essays.
Princeton Essay Guide and Additional Resources from CollegeAdvisor
The best way to write successful Princeton supplemental essays is by using the resources available to you. Learn all about what it takes to write successful college essays with the ample resources available from CollegeAdvisor.
You may want to start your Princeton journey by learning just how to get into Princeton. Our guide will provide applicants with important highlights on how to tackle the application process despite the low Princeton acceptance rate. When thinking about how to get into Princeton, it can seem overwhelming. Take advantage of everything that is available to you, starting with the How to Get Into Princeton guide.
How to Get Into Princeton Guide
Princeton essay resources
For more Princeton essay guidance, you may want to start by reviewing the previous essay guide for Princeton. Reading the past guide will surely get you into the Princeton essay writing mode. If you are confident in understanding what admissions looks for, then you will be able to write freely and surely within that scope. Additionally, you can read these essay tips from admissions experts. While they aren’t specific to Princeton, they can guide you when completing all of your college essays.
39 Essay Tips from CollegeAdvisor.com’s Admissions Experts
Finally, after learning all about how to get into Princeton and reading the Princeton essay guides, watch a Princeton University panel webinar . This webinar will provide you with important information from Princeton alumni on just what it takes to apply to and attend Princeton.
Princeton University Panel
Princeton Supplemental Essay – Final Thoughts
You are more than a collection of statistics, and the Princeton University supplemental essays are meant to help the admissions committee understand what unique skills and characteristics you can offer the Princeton community. While there are many Princeton supplemental essays to write, thoughtful execution of these Princeton essays can help your application stand out.
Use our guide
Use this Princeton essay guide to help you approach your Princeton supplemental essays carefully and intentionally. Also, be sure to have one or two people read over them before you submit your Princeton supplemental essay prompts. Whether from your college advisor, your school counselor, a teacher, or a trusted friend or family member, external feedback on your Princeton University supplemental essays will help you to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward. Still, when applying feedback, be sure to maintain your unique voice and style. Best of luck!
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How to Write the Princeton University Essays 2022-2023
Princeton University requires all applicants to submit three essays, three short responses, and a graded academic paper from high school. Depending on whether you are applying for a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, you will also be required to submit an essay about why you have chosen your major.
As one of the best universities in the country, Princeton gets thousands of applicants each year with perfect GPAs and test scores. How does someone stand out in such a strong pool of applicants? Essays. Your essays are one of the chief ways admissions officers will be able to distinguish you from other applicants and ultimately decide if they want you at their university or not. In this post, we’ll share how you can write your Princeton supplemental essays so they stand out from the crowd.
Read these Princeton essay examples to inspire your writing.
Princeton University Supplemental Essay Prompts
All applicants .
Prompt 1: Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (recommended 150 words)
Prompt 2: At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? (recommended 250 words)
Prompt 3: Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. (recommended 250 words)
More About You Prompts (50 words each)
- What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
- What brings you joy?
- What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
Graded Paper: Princeton requires you to submit a graded written paper as part of your application. You may submit this material now or any time before the application deadline. If you choose not to upload the required paper at this time, you may mail, e-mail, or upload your paper through the applicant portal. Detailed instructions for our graded paper requirement can be found here . (1-2 pages)
Bachelor of Arts Applicants
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. what academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at princeton suit your particular interests (recommended 250 words), bachelor of science in engineering applicants , please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at princeton. include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the university suit your particular interests. (recommended 250 words), all applicants, prompt 1, briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (recommended 150 words) .
Find a targeted story or angle. The first thing you should notice about this prompt is its length. 150 words is perilously short space to describe a pastime that is vital to your story. As a result, you need to formulate a precise approach that allows you to convey maximum emotion, personal voice, and detail in a few paragraphs. (For your probably terrified reference, this paragraph already has been 75 words, or half your limit.)
Centralize the word “meaningful,” and the word “you.” Interrogating what these words can mean is crucial to answering the prompt in the thoughtful way Princeton is looking for. You can brainstorm using a chart:
You don’t need to answer all of these; these are ideas to aid you when you’re coming up with the “meaning” of your activities.
Prioritize your beginning. What’s vital in such a short time span is that you don’t waste any time getting to the thrilling parts. You really don’t need to start with explanations, like “it was the summer before junior year” or “my high school offers a series of shop classes in the lower wing.” Instead, cut straight to some sort of action, and plunge your reader into an engaging first-person perspective. Here are some ideas to get started:
1. Start with your lowest point. Devastation and failure are always good emotional hooks, because we’ve all experienced them. That’s why so many sports movies start with the protagonist falling on their face: a person who has to overcome doubt and hopelessness is always more interesting than a person who simply excels without obstacle.
Example: “Sweat. Must. Dirt. These things became my world as my face crushed down onto the mat. I struggled to break loose, but it was useless – I was pinned.”
This writing is immersive and leaves us nowhere to go but up.
2. Start with your highest point. When we get really into our hobbies, most of us attain a state of flow, or even euphoria. This would be a tremendous lead-off for an exhilarating sport, like snowboarding or dancing, or a pastime that soothes you and makes you blissful. There’s a reason Chariots of Fire’s opening sequence – runners splashing in slow motion through ocean water with triumphant music – is so iconic and memorable. It perfectly conveys the natural high of doing what you love, and it unites us with the characters by involving us in their happiness.
3. Describe a snapshot. We humans have a natural curiosity about frozen images, so vignette (literally, “a scene composed of a single moment”) is a good tool to use when opening an essay. Your vignette could be a real picture of you doing your activity, or you could imagine one. First, you could talk about the physical elements of the picture – who’s in it, where it takes place – and then you could describe the emotional contents of the scene. For example:
“As the little girl manipulates her pinch pot, her grandma’s hands are steady over hers. The camera flash illuminates those hands – wrinkled, but strong from years of wrestling with clay. The girl smiles, with all five of her teeth.”
This approach works well if you have a unique photo, or a photo with a beloved mentor. It also might work well in describing a piece of your own art, or a historical image. The sky’s really the limit here.
4. Deconstruct a stereotype of your pastime. This is a good way to come out swinging, and with a chip on your shoulder. For example, people might have told you that your interest was boring, or “not what they would have expected” from you. Bonus points if you revisit this stereotype at the end just to drive home the point that you know better.
5. Explain a shibboleth. A bold way to open your essay is by starting with a phrase or statement that your reader will not understand without your ensuing guidance. (A shibboleth, I should add, is a kind of “tell” that designates the boundaries of a community. Shibbolim take many forms: jargon, quotes, terms, or references.) Maybe your team had a phrase or inside joke that made sense to you, but would be impenetrable to an outsider. For example:
“I. Hate. Deadheads.
Wait, don’t go! If you’re a fan of Grateful Dead, I don’t mean you. I just mean I’m a gardener, and “deadheads” is the name for one of our worst adversaries: the browning, dessicated flowers that give way to seed and have to be sliced off to keep an annual in bloom.”
This can be a great introduction if your pastime involves an influential mentor who used a signature phrase or maxim: teachers, coaches, authors, parents, etc. all have their own shibboleths for their audiences. Maybe your teacher invented a useful or funny mnemonic or nickname. These can be great personal gems around which to discuss your sport, club, or community. Bonus points if you repeat your shibboleth, in its illuminated glory, at the end.
6. Use a bit of poetry. This is great for a topic that might seem technical or bewildering to outsiders. For example, The Right Stuff famously begins by describing the aerophysics behind why planes until 1947 couldn’t break the sound barrier: the planes could not withstand the drag of travelling through the airmass at such high speeds. But does The Right Stuff use those words? Absolutely not. The movie begins instead using a cosmic, folkloric register: “There was a demon that lived in the air…. They said whoever challenged him would die.” A line like this is guaranteed to hook your audience, whether they care about the intricacies of your field or not.
Maintain the contours of a story, A → B. By this, we just mean that your pastime should convey a sense of personal development and maturation . This can be done in a sentence or two, and don’t worry about drawing it out too much – Princeton isn’t expecting a whole bildungsroman.
For example: “As counterintuitive as it sounds, a year spent reading Stephen King made me a less horrific person. I’m more thoughtful, have more patience, and have realized that all my neighbors – even the most noxious cats and cars – have their own strange knowledge to teach me.”
That was 45 words, so it’s a conclusion that leaves enough space for a few preceding paragraphs.
Don’t mistake awards for personal development. Because it’s Princeton, you might feel tempted to list all your titles, achievements, accolades, etc. to prove you’re worthy of admission. But doing so unthinkingly is a fatal mistake that you should never make. For one thing, there’s a good chance that you’ll just be repeating your resume, which is a waste of your time and your precious word count. Additionally, it’s an easy way to lose your reader – the tone might sound off, it might come across as bragging, and (if you’re like most people) rattling off a list of awards isn’t something you’d actually do in conversation. Can you imagine? “I attended NJHS general meetings biweekly, in addition to officers’ meetings every Thursday after school, and co-chaired a subcommittee on our annual PADS benefit dance.” Ugh. NJHS might be an important community cause in which the speaker was passionately involved, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way from the writing. Our brains aren’t wired to have any actual response to language like this.
Instead, you need to focus on the emotional meaning behind the achievements you mention. For example, how much work, how many early mornings, how many rainy practices, did it take you to go from a freshman on the bench to making it to state your senior year? These details will make your nominal awards seem like tangible payoff rather than text. Call it the Lord of the Rings rule: colleges would rather admit the Frodo Baggins who spends three books walking on foot across Middle-earth than the Frodo who simply rides the Eagles into Mordor in a day.
How to make it seem longer?
There are a few hacks you can use to make the 150 words you have seem a lot longer and more developed. That way, if you want to write about a longer time span, your final product will seem less rushed.
- Frequent indentations and shorter paragraphs. Creating a lot of white space will help your essay register as longer, visually (for proof of this, see any of James Patterson’s books). Dialogue, since it requires frequent indents, is also great for stretching out your space.
- Lists. If you want to show a progress of time, feel free to list out experiences, actions you performed, or things you learned. This compilation of literary lists shows how lists can take you on a journey even in a short space.
- Consider chapters . “Chapters?!” you may think. “With only 150 words?!” Yes. Chapters take up space visually, and they also communicate a sense of covered ground. There’s a reason Portia Nelson’s poem Autobiography in Five Short Chapters is so famous and effective: while it clocks in at only 140 words and takes about 30 seconds to read, it conveys a sense of real development, suspense, and progress. Check it out for a really great way to organize a very short essay.
Now, onto the next prompts, where you have a little bit more space…
All Applicants, Prompt 2
At princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. what insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future (recommended 250 words) .
While it can be tempting to simply retell the events of the story, remember that it is equally as important to talk in detail about the specific insight that you gained. We can break down this prompt into three key elements:
These are the integral parts of the essay that you absolutely cannot do without, but within them there’s a lot of freedom. For instance, you can approach your essay using any one of these elements as an entry point. You can think of your future intentions, then backtrack and identify an event that catalyzed your current understanding. Alternatively, you can think of a vivid event, and then discuss your acquired insight and goals.
Make sure you choose drama. We disagree with others all the time, but not all of these conversations have high stakes or dynamism. You should choose an event that was challenging and emotional for you, and most of all, transformative to you. I.e. a debate in which you “owned” your opponent isn’t really that interesting to read about. Consider scenarios with more situational drama:
1. A conversation that challenged a stereotype you held
2. A conversation that disillusioned you about the world or challenged your innocence
3. A debate in which you had to argue a different side than you usually do
4. A conversation with someone close to you who revealed a belief, in which case you could no longer dismiss people who held said beliefs as faraway enemies
5. “The Neville Longbottom” – a time you confronted your friends or family
6. A debate for which you were underprepared
7. A conversation with someone you wouldn’t usually talk to
8. A time you stood up to someone more powerful, or a time in which someone less powerful stood up to you
9. A conversation that encouraged you to do research
10. A conversation where you had to defuse anger and conflict
11. A debate that actually turned into a productive discussion
12. A conversation that taught you about good techniques for engaging others
And remember – the prompt asks for a conversation about a “difficult issues,” so it needs to be a conversation that was fairly radioactive at the time and connected to a deeper political, social, or moral tension. For example, we can look at the first few sentences of Charlotte’s Web for a passage that plunges us headlong into a heavy moral debate while also hitting on some above points of situational drama : Fern confronts her family (4), has her innocence broken (2), and has to stand up to someone more powerful (7).
“Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern…
“Well,” said her mother, “one of the pigs is a runt. It’s very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything. So your father has decided to do away with it.”
“Do away with it?” shrieked Fern. “You mean kill it? Just because it’s smaller than the others?”…Fern pushed a chair out of the way and ran outdoors.
In addition to being a perfect opening to a book, this would also make a great introduction for an essay in which Fern describes a conversation that challenged her apathy towards animal rights and set her in opposition to her father. Notice how the tension and drama make it almost impossible to stop reading? That’s the kind of high stakes and immediate emotion you should aim for when describing your conversation or incident.
Format. Going off the three main components (conversation → ideas → future goals) mentioned above, you can actually structure your essay in any order you choose. A good, reliable format would be to open in medias res with the action of the conversation, then broaden your focus to include your ideas and goals. The Charlotte’s Web passage you just read is a good example of an in medias res hook that places the inciting action first. However, you can also open with your goals, then take your reader back in time to explain how the conversation affected them.
Ex. “I want – no, need – to be a city planner. Since I was little, I’ve always wished that I could fly above my town and gaze down at the flow of traffic, the interplay of streets and parks, the habitual paths of pedestrians. For a while, I considered my interest in urban engineering as aesthetic: I liked to tinker and make beautiful towns, like the omniscient player of a game. But it wasn’t until high school that I was confronted with the idea that urban design concerned purely with aesthetics wasn’t innocent – in fact, it could be downright deadly to disadvantaged neighborhoods.”
This example would be a good start to an essay, because it hits on the author’s career goals, briefly summarizes the ideological conflict, and leaves you hanging with suspense – what made the author change his mind? How did it happen? It also paints a clear picture of the author at “point A,” so the rest of the essay can focus on “point B” and the changed opinion.
Hidden prompt alert! It’s easy to lose track of the first two words: “At Princeton,” especially since it’s part of a declarative sentence that doesn’t really end up being a question or prompt. But that doesn’t mean that it serves no purpose. Instead, a good rule of thumb for essay prompts that open with a statement is to treat that statement as a tone-setter and peripheral – but still required – concern.
Without stating so explicitly, this prompt wants to get you thinking about your life, ethics, and priorities at college – that’s why it says “at Princeton.” The actual prompt says “future,” but this preface really indicates that your focus should be on undergrad. While you don’t have to talk about yourself as a Student at Princeton doing Certain Things at Certain Clubs while Taking Certain Classes (that might sound a bit overbearing), you should definitely gesture towards your immediate goals for the next four years. If possible, tie the issue at hand to a discipline you plan to pursue in college. For example:
“As I major in mathematics, I’ll do so with a renewed appreciation for the women who came before me in the field – and a commitment to uplift and mentor my fellow women. I know that volunteering to tutor, getting involved in pre-professional organizations, and simply being there as an understanding friend can give us the power of belonging, no matter how infinitesimal we feel.”
This passage answers the secret prompt appropriately because it anticipates a collegiate environment specifically and mentions specific aspirations for the narrator’s next four years. It signals to readers what kind of person they can expect “at Princeton” – while tactfully not naming names and to their implied question with a subtle answer.
Beware self-flagellation. Because you’re writing about a conversation that challenged your worldview, it’s natural to write about a moment that made you aware of a certain privilege. This is fine, but take care not to be overwrought in describing your shock or sadness or how bad you felt for someone else. Focusing on your own guilt or pity puts you at risk of flattening the issues or people you’re talking about: these are internal, you -focused emotions, while the real subject of the essay should be the issue and the conversation in all its complexity. More important than your personal cataclysm is showing that you’re the kind of person who’s willing to think soundly, research more, and set up a plan of action. Don’t just focus on your inner feelings and shattered blissful ignorance – identify the new initiative you’re part of and show that you’ve made good on your intentions.
All Applicants, Prompt 3
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. (recommended 250 words).
Keep in mind that the key word is “story”: this prompt is not an invitation to list all of your achievements in community service as you will on your resume. Rather, Princeton is asking for a deeply-held part of your identity from which you’re motivated to perform civic engagement and service. We’ll cover some specific points below, but we also have a detailed blog post on writing service essays that you’ll find useful as well.
Also note that this prompt is a bit more Princeton-focused, so devote about 30-40% of your writing to specific programs at Princeton that align with your interests. We always recommend spending a good hour snooping around a college website, clicking through links, and looking at the different clubs, classes, programs, institutes, and communities.
The trusty T-chart can be of good help again while you brainstorm:
Focus on one interest or concern . Here, less is more – focusing on one key experience or aspect of your identity shows more thought and effort than copypasting several experiences. And for this prompt, it’s most effective to focus on the service work about which you can write the most and relate the most . For instance, a literature student might help make sandwiches for charity every month, but she probably has a more immediate connection with being a weekly reader and Bible study leader at her church.
Don’t turn your brain on autopilot or regurgitate the prompt. This prompt uses a lot of “admissions-speak,” which should serve as a signposts to direct you, not suggested wording to include in your response. “Intersect,” for example, has become an important – but increasingly mechanistic – buzzword in recent years. Try to avoid repeating it, and instead opt for words with more emotional resonance: “find a home [at Princeton],” “delve into the research [at Princeton],” etc. The same goes with “service” and “civic engagement” – repeat them too much and you’ll start to sound like you’re using the prompt as a crutch. Besides, there are more vivid words for the harvesting.
As always, be specific. Pick not just a broad issue (“helping the homeless”), but a subset of the issue that actually seems manageable (“making sure that the homeless have access to Internet and library services”). From there, look for potential classes offered at Princeton, and student organizations involved in similar missions. It may be worth citing current student activism projects you find on Princeton’s website, and discuss how those same opportunities would allow you to apply your skills in the best-fit way.
All Applicants, More About You Prompts
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college (50 words), what brings you joy (50 words), what song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment (50 words).
“There are no right or wrong answers.” (Alexa, play “Why You Always Lying?”)
There is a wrong answer, and it’s a category: “boring.” In fact, the more unique and genuine your answer is, the more that you can break away as a contender. And because you have such a short word limit, you can even add a little mystery. And this is the right place, too – it’s the end of your application, and a thought-provoking or fascinating answer will just remind your reader that We have to interview this applicant to find out more.
For example, a lackluster answer to the “soundtrack” question might be sensible and logical, but flat: “Since I’ve been stuck in quarantine, ‘Circles’ by Post Malone summarizes my repetitive experience.” I mean, it’s passable as small talk. But it’s self-contained and doesn’t elicit any curiosity.
A better answer will entertain, provoke a chuckle, frighten, intrigue – pick a verb you want your reader to have. Recontextualize a song. Pick a weird one. Send your reader to YouTube to look it up. For example, “Early in his career, David Bowie wrote a song about being stalked by a magical gnome . It is friendly, but harasses Bowie. Does it come in goodness, or in evil? It is, like both, inescapable. Its voice plays in my dreams. I fear gnomes now.” The weirdness there commands attention.
You can also demonstrate uniqueness by redefining or recontextualizing a word in the prompt. For example, you could write about a niche type of joy, like schadenfreude (well, maybe not), fear/excitement, or watching fire. You could redefine “song” to include birdsong, or the sound of a favorite coffee shop.
A word on the “skill” question : it may be helpful to address a shortcoming or skills gap, then cite the skill and how it will improve your life. Doing so can prove that you’re not going for pure quirkiness or trying, superficially, to be a Manic Pixie Dream Freshman. For example, “juggling!!!” itself might seem a little vacuous, but can be easily deepened by expansion: “juggling as part of the team would help me overcome my fear of performing and presenting in front of crowds.”
Overall, use these “More About You” questions to showcase another part of your story, personality, or character that you didn’t have the chance to showcase before. When answering this prompt, it can also be helpful to astral-project yourself into another student or who’s assessing you as a potential friend. Look over your answers: would you want to grab lunch or share a dorm with the person who’s written them? Would you be inspired to befriend the engineering major who answers the first “More About You” Question with yet another example of her love of engineering? Or would you choose the engineering major who answers the same question with her love for candlemaking and Dolly Parton? The main point is that answering these prompts successfully takes a degree of self-awareness and quirkiness.
All Applicants, Graded Paper
Princeton requires you to submit a graded written paper as part of your application. you may submit this material now or any time before the application deadline. if you choose not to upload the required paper at this time, you may mail, e-mail, or upload your paper through the applicant portal. detailed instructions for our graded paper requirement can be found here. (1-2 pages).
Unlike the other essays, Princeton isn’t assessing your personality and interests from the graded paper. Rather, this paper gives insight as to your academic capabilities as a student. While they can see your physical grades and reports from teachers, this is a unique chance for you to express your talents for conveying an academic idea in writing—a crucial skill you need for college and life.
We have an entire post dedicated to the requirements for the paper, how to choose your paper, and how to submit it. You can read it here !
Bachelor of Arts Applicants Prompt
This prompt fits into the “ Why Major? ” essay archetype. The purpose of this essay is to not only understand why you are interested in the major you have indicated, but also see your passion and thirst for knowledge. Princeton only wants to admit the most intellectually curious students, so your essay should convey your academic passions and how you will explore them at Princeton.
You want to be sure your essay reveals deep emotional reasoning for wanting to pursue your major. Asking yourself these questions will help you find why you are interested in this topic:
- What are specific examples of concepts or things that you enjoy in this field?
- What positive skills or traits are exemplified by this major?
- How will majoring in this topic serve your life and/or career goals?
- What is your state of mind or emotional experience you have when you explore this topic? Why do you find that state or experience appealing?
After you have figured out why you are interested, you can start writing. A good essay will introduce the major, articulate your core reasons as to why you are interested (ideally through anecdotes or specific examples from inside and outside the classroom), and explain how this major will help you in the future.
Here are some examples of responses that include all of these elements:
- A student who is interested in the Geosciences major might write about how he has grown up by the beach and spent his whole life surfing. He could describe how he became fascinated with how the largest waves he loved to surf were formed. He would discuss the independent research he’s done on the tectonic plates and how he’s studied topographical maps of the Pacific ocean floor to find the best locations for waves in California. Finally, he would explain how understanding the physics, chemistry, and biology behind the ocean will help him predict areas at risk of climate crises as a future environmental consultant.
- A student who is interested in the Politics major could write about her experience volunteering for her local representative’s campaign. She could describe how she offered to run the social media accounts for her representative since she has an eye for graphic design. Through attending strategy meetings, reading policy briefs, and speaking to constituents, she got an inside look at what it means to be a representative, which sparked her interest in politics. After her experience in local government, she’s excited to learn the intricacies of national government and public relations in her classes to prepare her to be a press secretary on the Hill one day.
- A student who is interested in the Architecture major could talk about the trip he took to Barcelona where he saw the most unique architecture in his life. After his trip, he researched the history and architects who created some of the structures he saw. His research inspired his portfolio in art class where he painted a collection of houses inspired by the style of Barcelona architects. He hopes to learn more about architectural foundations so he can turn his creative designs into practical houses.
Since the prompt asks about the programs offered at Princeton, make sure you include specific and unique opportunities at Princeton that make it the perfect place to pursue this major. You could talk about the specific approach the university takes to specific fields (you are fascinated by approaching biology from an evolutionary standpoint in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major), classes or professors you are excited to take ( Philosophy of Mind or Turning Points in European Culture ), and extracurricular opportunities that align with your interests (research projects, study abroad programs, and community service organizations). Remember, name-dropping will get you nothing! For every resource you mention, you should have a concrete explanation as to what you hope to gain or contribute when you engage with the resource.
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Applicants Prompt
This essay is only required for those who have indicated an interest in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering on their applications.
The key here is to be specific ; an implicit aspect of this question is “why Princeton engineering? What makes Princeton’s engineering program different from other programs? Why would this be a better fit for you? Rather than vaguely discussing the reasons why Princeton’s engineering program is something you desire, include specific classes and appeal to the philosophy of an engineering education. For instance, if there’s a particular class that interests you, don’t be afraid to directly mention it and connect the class back to your overall interests in engineering.
Extracurricular programs are another area you should definitely mention. If you’re passionate about sustainability, you could mention an interest in Princeton’s Engineers Without Borders and comment on how you will use your membership to promote sustainable engineering. If you enjoy working with kids, perhaps Princeton Engineering Education for Kids is more appealing. No matter your interests, be sure to mention a club or organization that could allow you to pursue these interests outside of the classroom.
If you have a preferred area of specialization, such as bioengineering or chemical engineering, it would be great if you’re able to tie this back to your current passions or activities. Maybe you are already involved in an organization at your current school that deals with these more specialized areas of engineering. If so, make sure to emphasize this, as this would allow your passion to shine through and show previous relevant experience.
Be warned, however, that listing all your engineering related activities can make your essay sound like a resume. Rather than simply providing a list, connect each activity to each other in order to construct a more cohesive essay. Make sure that any change in topics flow smoothly from one to the next to avoid transforming your essay into a laundry list of your achievements.
Another direction that you could take when discussing previous engineering experience is to discuss your state of mind when partaking in these activities. Perhaps working on complex engineering problems gets your adrenaline pumping or perhaps you find it quite therapeutic and relaxing. It’s always a good idea to show the admissions officers how you feel when partaking in subjects you’re passionate about.
As always, remember to show Princeton another piece of yourself by highlighting your passions, interests, and goals and connecting these back to Princeton’s academic environment.
Where to Get Your Princeton Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your Princeton essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!
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How To Answer Princeton's Supplemental Essay Prompt for 2022/23
Like most other universities, Princeton is looking for essays that show introspection, personality, insight, and thought process. Although Princeton has low acceptance rates, these essays can help you stand out in your application.
What are Princeton’s Supplemental Essay Prompts for 2022/23?
Princeton’s supplemental essay prompts remain unchanged from the previous application year.
Prompt 1: Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (please respond in about 150 words.), prompt 2: your voice, please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words..
- At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
- Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
Prompt 3: More About You
Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. there are no right or wrong answers. be yourself.
- What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
- What brings you joy?
- What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
How to Answer Prompt 1
For this first short answer question, the key word is meaningful. This essay isn't just an opportunity to brag about an additional accomplishment (although it's ok if this essay ultimately includes one!). It's an opportunity to discuss an experience you've had outside of school that you feel gets buried by the rest of your application.
Since it specifies an "extracurricular activity," it likely wants you to write about something that appears on your Common App list of extracurriculars but does not appear elsewhere in your app. Writing an anecdote rather than a mere summary is advised.
Pro tip: It’s a good idea to choose an activity that contrasts with your intended major because it shows your diverse interests and gives your application more texture overall.
How to answer Prompt 2
1. at princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. what insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future.
The Your Voice essays should be approached much like the original Common App essay because many of the same standards apply, including deep insight or self-reflection, grammatically correct language, and compelling language that is clear and concise.
For the first prompt, list several examples in your life where you had to assess, convince, or understand a new perspective . Pick the one that is the most nuanced and complex and where you show your flexibility and capacity for hearing others' opinions and processing them.
2. Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
For the second prompt, list experiences you've had where you helped others directly or worked for an organization that helped others indirectly . Try to match one experience with a club or group that Princeton offers that has a similar message or helps a similar population.
Use your time to show the specific places you can see yourself using the skills you have acquired . If you can identify an unmet need at Princeton, see if you possess the skills to lead a new club or group which fulfills this need. Try to end on a sentence that shows the reader what you hope to accomplish at Princeton in the future.
Remember, every applicant has the same prompts.
- How can you make yours stand out?
- How can you creatively spin the meaning of these quotations?
- How can you take that meaning and apply it to your value system?
These prompts are asking for deep reflection. The committee wants to know how you see yourself and the values you hold as a person. As a refresher, please reference our Common App criteria (available here: Essay Criteria 2019-2020.pdf ).
How to Answer Prompt 3
1. what is a new skill you would like to learn in college, 2. what brings you joy, 3. what song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment.
You can only answer these very personal questions. Here you have a chance to show your humor (if you believe you are a humorous person), your ability to know yourself, your imagination, and your dreams.
As with all the supplemental answers, try to be specific, original, and truthful. As you have few words to express all your thoughts, make sure that what you choose to put into your answer is how you want to be perceived.
How to Stand Out in your Princeton Supplemental Essay?
This year, the prompts ask for deep thought and emotional experience. Be specific, honest, and forthcoming. There is no reason to withhold important thoughts or revelations (as long as you can fit them in the word count!). As with the common application, these essays ask that you "dig deep.
Now is the time to dig deep. Supplemental essays help Princeton admissions learn more about you and why you would be the perfect fit for their campus community. Don’t hold back. Let the real you shine through.
What Makes Crimson Different
Key Resources & Further Reading
- Everything you need to know about US Application Supplemental Essays
- Acing your College Application Essay: 5 Expert Tips to Make it Stand Out from the Rest
- How to Tackle Every Type of Supplemental Essay
- Common App Essay Prompts 2022/23
- What are the Most Unusual US College Supplemental Essay Prompts?
- How to write the perfect Personal Statement
Will chatgpt affect the college application essay.
How To Answer The Northwestern Supplemental Essay Prompt For 2022/23?
How To Answer U Chicago's Supplemental Essay Prompts 2022/23
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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the complete guide to the princeton supplement.
College Info , College Essays
Got your heart set on Princeton—the #1 ranked university in the US ? Then you'll need to learn how to write amazing Princeton essays for your Princeton Supplement, a key part of your application for admission.
In this detailed guide, we go over the different types of essays you'll be required to write for your Princeton application and provide you with some expert tips on how to write your most effective and unique essay possible.
Feature Image: James Loesch /Flickr
What Are the Princeton Essays?
The Princeton application requires five essays and three short answers from all applicants. One of these essays must answer a prompt provided by the Common Application , Coalition Application , or QuestBridge Application (depending on which system you choose to submit your Princeton application through).
The other four essay prompts , as well as the three short answer prompts, are part of the Princeton Supplement . The Princeton Supplement also requires an Engineering Essay from applicants who have indicated on their applications an interest in pursuing a BS in Engineering (B.S.E.). Students applying to the Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree program and those who are undecided must submit a supplemental essay as well.
Below, we'll look at each prompt in the Princeton Supplement. So let's get started!
While the Princeton supplement is submitted electronically, you might find that brainstorming the old fashioned way (with pen and paper!) helps you get your ideas organized.
The Bachelor of Arts/Undecided and the Bachelor of Science and Engineering Essays
Your first long essay is 250 words long and is assigned based on what you plan to major in. You will only need to answer one of these prompts .
The first prompt is for Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree and undecided applicants to respond to. If you are applying for the A.B. degree program or put undecided on your application, you must respond to this essay prompt in the first section of the supplement.
The second prompt is for Bachelor of Science and Engineering (B.S.E.) applicants to respond to. All applicants who indicate they'd like to pursue a bachelor of science in engineering degree must respond to this prompt. Next, we'll break down what each prompt is asking you to do and how to respond to it.
The good news is that both prompts are versions of the "Why This College?" essay, which is a pretty common essay to encounter on college applications. If you want more info on how to answer this type of question more generally, be sure to check out this article .
The A.B. Degree and Undecided Applicants Prompt
For A.B. Degree Applicants or Those Who are Undecided:
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.)
This question is asking you to make a case for why you'll be an excellent fit as a liberal arts student at Princeton . You can make your case in your response to this prompt by showing that you understand the value of the liberal arts education that Princeton offers, and that you've thought about how Princeton's programs fit your academic and future goals.
In addition to asking you to show how Princeton is a good fit for you, this prompt is really asking you to highlight why you are a good fit for Princeton. Everyone knows that Princeton is highly competitive, so your response to this prompt is your chance to show that you'll bring valuable intellectual interests and perspectives to the Princeton community as well.
What Makes A Good Answer?
#1: Show how you're unique. Are you excited to geek out about the connections between critical human geography and twenty-first century Arabic literature? To explore the relationships between psychology and social media? If you've got a weird, quirky, or unique set of academic interests, this is the place to go into detail about them. A good answer to this question will nail down one or more specific academic areas that you get genuinely pumped about and why you're interested in them. This is your chance to show the thought processes behind your choice to pursue an A.B. degree at Princeton...or why you put "undecided" on your application.
#2: Connect to Princeton's program offerings. You could name specific professors you hope to work with who share your interests, courses you'd be thrilled to take, or special program offerings you hope to participate in (like study abroad or research opportunities). In order to make your response to this part of the question genuine, you'll have to do your research on the programs you're interested in and really know your stuff. This will show admissions counselors that you're interested in going to Princeton because it's a good fit for you, not because it's ranked #1 on college lists.
#3: Be honest . Your response should make it clear that you've spent a lot of time thinking about your academic interests. Make sure you're telling the truth: don't pick an academic area just because you think it's impressive. To show your sincerity, make sure you're being specific about why you're interested in the area you're writing about. This will help your passion come across on the page.
What Should You Avoid?
#1: Avoid generalities. You don't want to respond to this question with general fields of study or disciplines. For instance, saying that "history" or "art" piques your curiosity won't be specific enough. Instead of "history," you could say, "I'm curious about how war monuments and memorials in the U.S. impact the communities they 're located in." Above all, you want to describe specific issues, questions, or perspectives in your areas of academic interest that you hope to explore when you become a student at Princeton.
#2: Don't focus on past achievements. This question isn't the place to talk about your academic achievements and awards from high school. Here's why: Princeton admissions isn't necessarily looking to learn about why you're good at the subjects you're interested in. They want to understand why you're curious about those areas and why you want to study them at Princeton.
3 Tips For Answering This Prompt
#1: Start with your interests. Start by brainstorming which academic interests you want to talk about. You might have to think for a little while! If you know you want to major in African American Studies, take some time to write out the historical, political, and economic issues and questions that get you excited about majoring in this field. Let the specific aspects of the fields of study you're considering be the foundation for your answer.
#2: Do your research. Once you've brainstormed the specific aspects of your major or possible majors that you're most curious about, head over to Princeton's website to search for more information. If it's African American Studies, comb through every sentence on that major's website. Look into the interests of professors in this department, courses they teach, and events hosted by the department. You can even talk about your interest in working with specific professors or taking specific courses in your response.
#3: Be specific. The more specific you can be about your academic interests, the more likely your answer is to appeal to Princeton admissions. You don’t have to have your entire degree plan mapped out, but you do need to show that you're already thinking carefully about how you'll forge your path forward as an independent thinker and intellectual citizen once you start at Princeton.
The B.S.E. Degree Applicant Prompt
For B.S.E Degree Applicants:
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.)
This prompt is specific for applicants who want to major in engineering at Princeton. Essentially, this prompt is asking you to highlight the factors in your background and experiences that have influenced you to pursue engineering.
More specifically , this prompt wants you to explain why Princeton engineering is the program for you.
#1: Showcase your background. A good answer to this question will explain why you're interested in engineering. For instance, maybe you grew up in a city that experiences earthquakes, so you want to study civil engineering to make buildings safer. Or maybe your parents and grandparents are engineers and you're passionate about carrying on the family legacy. Whatever your story, telling some of it will provide important context for your interest in engineering.
#2: Connect your interest to Princeton. Admissions counselors want to know why Princeton engineering is the only program for you. For example, say you want to focus on engineering for health professions. During your research, you read that Princeton students are developing new personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. This essay is a perfect place for you to explain that you want to join this research project! Making connections to real people, courses, and proj ects wi ll show that you're excited about the unique opportunities provided by Princeto n engineering .
#3: Share your research interests. In addition to stating a specific subfield of engineering that you're interested in (if possible), a good response to this prompt will describe your interest in key issues or questions pertaining to the subfield of engineering you want to stud y. For example, if you hope to become a chemical engineer who works with cruelty-free cosmetics, describe that research interest here. While it's important to be flexible, and it's okay if you don't have your whole future with engineering planned out, being able to describe some of your vision for your future in Princeton Engineering is a crucial part of a good response.
#1: Avoid discussing awards and achievements. Avoid talking about awards, competitions, or other academic achievements if possible. Princeton admissions can find out those details from other parts of your application. Instead, showcase the passion behind your interest in engineering. Instead of describing achievements, describe moments of inspiration in your story that have led you to pursue engineering at Princeton.
#2: Don't skip the context. You don't want to describe your specific interests in engineering without connecting them to what Princeton has to offer. Make sure you describe specific courses, professors, or research projects. Do your research and make sure your interests coincide with the possibilities Princeton provides.
Tip #1: Start with the research. It will be tough to write a meaningful response to this prompt if you haven't done some serious research about the B.S.E. program at Princeton. Get really acquainted with the B.S.E. program's website. Gather the info you need to incorporate information about professors you want to work with, research projects you'd like to work on, and courses you're eager to take.
Tip #2: Focus on your experiences. Incorporating your background with engineering is important to a good response here, but you need to be strategic about what details you include. Describe the moment your interest in engineering began, the most exciting experience you've had with engineering, or what gets you pumped about studying engineering at Princeton. Revealing where your interest in engineering comes from can help prove that the B.S.E. program is a good fit for you.
Tip #3: Be specific. State the subfield of engineering that you're interested in and/or what engineering issues pique your curiosity. Princeton wants to know that you already have a vision for how you'll be an active engineering student!
Princeton also requires an essay about your extracurricular and/or work experience. This is your time to show admissions counselors a different side of yourself (like...maybe your cowboy side)!
The Extracurricular and Work Experience Supplement
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in 150 words or fewer.)
This prompt is pretty straightforward. It's asking you to show that you choose activities and dedicate your time to things that you find meaningful. By describing one of these things in your life that is meaningful to you, you'll be showing Princeton admissions that you'll manage your time with similar precision as a student.
#1: Include details that excite you. The prompt makes it pretty clear that you should select one activity, organization, work experience, or hobby to write about, but how do you decide what to choose? A good response will focus on the aspects of your activity that are most exciting to you. Focus your description on the aspects of the activity that you find exciting and meaningful.
#2: Highlight your values. Describing an activity that is meaningful to you is also a chance to highlight your personal values. For example, maybe you teach yoga classes at a day camp for preschoolers because you believe yoga can help them learn how to cope with their big feelings. Explaining why you engage in your chosen activity will tell more about who you are and the values you hold.
#1: Avoid choosing a topic just because you think it looks good. This should be obvious: don't write about something you don't find meaningful. You might have involvement in activities that you think would sound impressive on your application, but it's more important that you reveal more about who you are by describing an activity that is meaningful to you instead.
#2. Don't make this a list. It's easy to go into the details of all the stuff you do in your chosen activity, job, or hobby, but it's important to take it a step further and describe what the activity means to you . Don't get too bogged down in reciting your job description and lose focus of the story behind it.
#1: Pick your most meaningful activity. Your enthusiasm will shine through in your response if you choose to write about the activity that is most meaningful to you. Think about where you are and what you're doing when you're feeling the most invigorated, and write about that activity in your response.
#2: Accentuate the positive. Try to identify the aspects of your activity that make you feel the most alive and fulfilled, then describe those aspects of your activity in your response. You won't be able to include every little detail about your activity, and that's okay. What's important is that you offer your interpretation of the importance of that activity in your life.
#3: Explain the meaning. This doesn't have to be some life-shattering revelation, but you should definitely highlight what your activity means to you. For example, perhaps your summer job as a cashier at your local grocery store allows you to meet everyday people in your community, and you value these connections with people you’d otherwise never know. What you find meaningful about your activity is ultimately up to you, but you want to make sure you briefly describe it in your response.
The Your Voice Supplement
The "Your Voice" supplement section consists of two required, approximately 250 word essays. The prompts for these essays (below) are asking you to give Princeton admissions a sense of how your past and ongoing experiences shape the kind of student you will be at Princeton.
In other words, the "Your Voice" supplement is asking you to show evidence that you live out values that fit with Princeton's values. So, to answer these two required questions, start thinking about points in your ongoing story that reflect your commitment to having hard conversations and serving others. We'll get into the specifics of how to write about your story in response to each prompt next.
Prompt #1: The Difficult Conversation Prompt
At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? (250 words)
The first of the required "Your Voice" supplements is asking you to show that you're capable of engaging in civil discourse with others —even when the topic of conversation is tough to talk about. By describing a time when you shared in a convo about a difficult topic, you'll also demonstrate that you can push through uncomfortable situations and learn something new along the way.
To respond to this prompt, you'll need to tell a story. Start by thinking of a specific conversation you've had and what you learned from it, and how that learning informs who you're becoming and who you'll be as a student at Princeton.
#1: Share a real experience. Thinking of a challenging experience that seems meaningful enough to include in an application essay might feel...well, challenging. Nevertheless, you want your story to be as truthful as possible . Princeton Admissions knows that you probably didn't change the world from one conversation. What they want to know is that you're willing to have tough conversations. So, pick a memory of a real conversation, recall as many details about what happened in the conversation as you can, and draft a description of the situation that's as true to real events as possible.
#2: Be thoughtful. Did you learn something new during the difficult conversation you're writing about? Explain what you learned from it in your response! For instance, perhaps you learned that being a nonjudgmental listener can help others feel more comfortable with listening to what you have to say. Whatever you learned, make sure you describe it in your response. This will show Princeton Admissions that you're open to learning and growing.
#3: Show you're forward thinking. How will the knowledge you gained from this difficult conversation shape your behavior as a Princeton student? Think about what college is like: you'll be encountering students, faculty, and staff from all over the world. This means you'll be in constant contact with different values, cultures, and ways of thinking about the world. Princeton wants to know that you're prepared to participate in this environment in positive ways!
#1: Don't disparage anyone. Even if the conversation you're describing was incredibly frustrating, don't insult the other people who were involved. Instead, show empathy toward the people you spoke with. Princeton Admissions wants to know that you're a person who can extend empathy to many different kinds of people to be a good student and citizen.
#2: Don't brag. Don't brag about what you accomplished. Instead, focus on what you learned from the conversation --even if you think that the other people involved were totally wrong and you were totally right. Admissions counselors want to know that you learned from your experience.
2 Tips For Answering This Prompt
Tip #1: Pick a convo that impacted you. You should definitely write about a conversation that was meaningful to you, rather than one that you think is impressive or controversial. Take time to reflect on tough conversations you've had before drafting your response, and make sure you pick one that impacted you in some way.
Tip #2: Connect the topic to college life. While you obviously need to describe the topic of your difficult conversation and how you handled it, a crucial part of your response is how this convo prepared you to be an engaged, ethical member of the Princeton community. Be sure to focus part of your response on explaining how what you learned will guide your life as a Princeton student.
Prompt #2: The Service and Your Story Prompt
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. (250 words)
This supplement prompt is asking you to show your commitment to serving others and/or being an engaged citizen --and you'll need to describe a specific experience or idea that demonstrates this commitment.
When the prompt says "tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect with) these ideals," it means that you should think of real things you've done or real values you hold that motivate your civic engagement. This is a key part of the story you'll have to share in your response.
#1: Tell a story. Basically, the prompt is assuming that who you are and what you value will motivate how you serve others and participate as an engaged citizen. To answer this prompt effectively, then, think about telling the story behind your decision to serve or fulfill your civic responsibilities in a specific way.
#2: Connect it to your local life. The decisions we make about our community involvement are often personal. For instance, maybe someone in your family recovered from cancer as a child, so your story with service involves gathering donations for a pediatric cancer care center in the region where you live. Think about the personal connections that you've made, then include them in your response.
#3: Consider the future. Maybe you don't have much experience with service or civic engagement yet, but you have a big vision for how you'll serve and engage in the Princeton community. This prompt is a chance to describe the details of that vision. Alternatively, if you have existing experience with service and civic engagement and want to continue serving in similar ways at Princeton, share your ideas about how you'll accomplish that. Service and civic engagement are lifelong commitments—describing your ideas about how you'll serve in the future will show that you're prepared for that commitment.
#1: Don't be condescending. While it's likely that the people you've served in the past learned things from you, don't focus your response on describing how wonderful you are . Instead, focus on how your service and civic engagement experiences have refined your values and helped you become a better human, which is what Princeton admissions wants to hear about.
#2: Avoid delusions of grandeur. If you decide to include a description of how you hope to serve once you get to Princeton, don't get too carried away. For example, you probably aren't going to get every single Princeton student registered to vote...but you can probably make some progress. Be realistic about your ideas for how you'll serve in the future. Princeton admissions just wants you to show dedication to service and civic engagement. They don't expect you to solve all of the world's problems.
Tip #1: Tell a story. It's important to coach your answer in the form of a story. Describe who you served, what the service looked like, and why you decided to serve in this way. If possible, connect it to your background, your identity, or your values. Turning your service experience into a story for Princeton admissions will make it more memorable.
Tip #2: Describe the impact. Princeton Admissions doesn't just want to know the story of your past experience with service--they also want to know how the experience continues to impact you today. Describe what you learned from the experience, how it changed you, and how it shapes your current actions and values.
Tip #3: Connect it to your future. Connect your story about your service to your vision for your life as a student at Princeton. This will let admissions know that you'll also be an exceptional student outside of the classroom in the Princeton community.
The "More About You" Short Answer Supplements
The "More About You" short answer section of the Princeton Supplement is your last chance to show who you are: the real person behind all of the stats, scores, and successes that the rest of your application showcases. In fact, the instructions for this required portion of the supplement are clear: "There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!"
This means that, in 50 words or fewer, you'll need to give admissions counselors a clearer picture of the "you" behind the application. All three of the "More About You" short answer questions are required, and each one gives you a chance to provide a little more context for your desire to be a student at Princeton.
#1: The New Skill Prompt
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college? (50 words)
To answer this question, all you need to do is describe a skill that you want to learn in college! There are a couple of different ways that you could interpret this prompt. Just remember: answer honestly.
For starters, you could think of the prompt as asking about a skill that you want to learn from your actual college courses . If this is the path you choose, you could write about how you want to learn to produce a podcast, to lead a Socratic Seminar, or to write a winning elevator pitch. Connecting the skill you want to learn to your areas of academic interests is a solid strategy.
Alternatively, you could think more generally about any skill you want to learn during your time in college ! For example, maybe you struggle with public speaking, and you want to learn to share your ideas more clearly in your classes and your extracurriculars. Writing about skills that are more oriented towards exploring your identity, background, or interests outside of academics is perfectly fine here too.
Whatever skill you decide to write about, it's important to briefly explain why you want to learn that skill. For instance, if you were writing about learning to bake like your grandmother, you might explain that this skill has been passed down in your family for generations, and you'd like to pass it down as well. If you want to learn how to produce a podcast, maybe you'd explain that you were searching for an interesting podcast on Marxist economics, but couldn't find one that had good production quality, so you want to learn how to produce one yourself.
#2: The Joy Prompt
What brings you joy? (50 words)
The same principles go for this prompt: write your response about something that genuinely brings you joy. It could be an activity, a person or relationship, or an experience you've had. To answer this question, simply describe the thing that brings you joy.
A good answer to this question will identify one specific thing that brings you joy, then describe it with gusto. For example, if the thing that brings you joy is building model planes with your little brother, briefly tell the story of why that experience brings you joy. Maybe you like the challenge of focusing on small details, or perhaps your joy comes from building something with your hands.
Briefly giving these specific details will show how the thing that brings you joy reflects your values and identity --both of which will give more clues as to the kind of person you'll be as a student at Princeton.
#3: The Soundtrack of Your Life Prompt
What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment? (50 words)
This short answer is fun! Keep your song selection relatively clean, of course, but otherwise, just think of a song that you're literally listening to on repeat right now , or pick a song that symbolizes your current experience. Then explain why!
For example, maybe you'll write about "Inner Child" by BTS because getting ready to leave home for college in the midst of so much has made you reflect on your younger years. Or, if you've literally listened to "my future" by Billie Eilish one thousand times since its release, briefly write about why you can't stop hitting repeat.
Don't overthink this prompt: the music we love reveals things about our personality and how we cope with the realities of our lives. Just be real, and you'll show Princeton admissions another facet of your genuine personality and how you process the world.
How to Write a Great Princeton Essay: 4 Key Tips
To wrap up, here are some final tips to keep in mind as you write your Princeton essays and any other essays for college applications.
#1: Be Specific
A vague essay is certain to squelch your chances of getting into Princeton, so make sure you're being as specific as possible in your writing.
For example, if you're writing about somebody who inspired you, touch on the little quirks or traits they have to help the admissions committee more easily visualize this person, such as their subtle mannerisms, the way they handled stress, or their perseverance in a difficult situation.
Remember that you're writing about something real, whether that's a person, event, object, or experience. Your aim should be to make the subject of your essay feel as real to your readers as it did and does for you.
Other ways to ensure that you're being specific enough in your essay are to use common literary devices such as anecdotes, dialogue (an actual conversation you had with someone), imagery, and onomatopoeia. These not only add color to your writing but also paint the subject of your essay in a more effective, relatable way.
Lastly, I recommend getting somebody else to read over your essay (which I talk about more in tip 4); this person can let you know if your writing isn't specific enough and if too much is left to be implied.
#2: Be Honest and Use Your Voice
The whole point of writing an essay for a college application is to show the admissions committee who you are. In short, what makes you you ? This is why it's so critical to use an authentic voice in your Princeton essays.
For example, if you love making people laugh (and think humor is one of your defining traits), then it might be a good idea to include a joke or two in your personal essay.
However, don't exaggerate anything that happened to you or any feelings you might have —the admissions committee will more than likely be able to see through it. Remember that you want your voice and feelings to come across strongly but also (and more importantly) authentically.
Don't claim in your engineering essay that you've liked engineering since you were 3 years old if you only recently developed an interest in it. Lying about or exaggerating anything in your essay will simply make you seem insincere and, yes, even immature. So avoid it!
#3: Write Well and Avoid Clichés
You'll need to be a decent writer if you're hoping to get into Princeton—one of the most selective universities in the US ! On the technical side, this means that your Princeton essays should have no grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.
If you're unsure about a certain grammar rule, such as how to use a semicolon correctly, feel free to consult our SAT grammar guide for a quick refresher.
Writing well also means varying up your sentence lengths and styles (in other words, don't start every sentence with "I," even though you're likely talking about yourself).
On the more stylistic side, your essays should really grab your audience's attention—and keep it throughout. Therefore, you'll need to come up with a unique way to hook your readers from the beginning. For example, you could start with a piece of dialogue that someone said to you once (I'd avoid famous quotations, though, since these can come across really clichéd).
Alternatively, you could start with a memory, opening a description with a strong emotion you had, a sound you heard (using onomatopoeia would be a good idea here), or powerful, sensory images of the setting.
As a final tip, make a conscious effort to avoid clichés. These include quotations that have been quoted to death and phrases or idioms that are often overused. Using clichés indicates laziness to the reader and a lack of authenticity in your voice and storytelling.
For example, instead of writing, "I woke up at the crack of dawn," you could write something like "I woke up as soon as the sun began to peek over the horizon" (if you're the poetic type) or even just "I woke up at dawn" (if you're more like Hemingway).
Here is a lengthy but useful list of clichés to avoid in your writing .
Remember that you're ultimately telling a story with your essays, so don't be afraid to get creative and use a variety of literary techniques!
#4: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
The final step before you submit each of your Princeton essays is to edit and proofread it.
Editing isn't a one-step process. After you finish your rough draft, put your essay away and take it out again a few days or even weeks later to get a fresh perspective on what sounds good and what comes across awkward, unclear, or irrelevant. Do this step numerous times. At this time, you should also be checking for any typos, grammar errors, etc.
Once you've done a few editing sessions on your own, give your essay to someone you trust, such as a teacher, counselor, or parent, and have that person look it over and offer any feedback or corrections. Getting another set of eyes to look at your essay can help you catch smaller mistakes you might've failed to notice; it also gives a clearer sense as to what kind of impression your essay will likely leave on the Princeton admissions committee.
If you're applying to Princeton through the Common Application, you'll need to write an essay that answers one of the Common App prompts . Our in-depth guide goes over all the current prompts and gives you expert tips on how to answer them.
You can also check out our guide on how to choose a Common App prompt if you're struggling with deciding on the best one for your college application.
Not sure what your chances are of actually getting into Princeton? Calculate them with our own college acceptance calculator , and read up on how to submit a versatile college application .
Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.
Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.
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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.
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Unpacking the Princeton Supplemental Essays 2021-2022
July 12, 2021
Having held that coveted number one spot in the US News Ranking of Best National Universities for the last few years, it should come as no surprise that you need to bring your A-game to get into Princeton University. Obviously, your grades, scores, and extracurricular activities matter a great deal, but don’t underestimate the power of well-written answers to the prompts offered by the Princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022 .
Take the time to perfect your answers to the Princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022 so that admissions officers are not only impressed by the quality of your writing but also believe that you’re a strong fit for an institution as selective as Princeton. To help guide you through the Princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022 , I have outlined each of the prompts, ways to strategize your answers to them, and additional tips for your responses.
Prompts for the Princeton Supplemental Essays 2021-2022
While none of the questions explicitly ask why you want to attend Princeton (because let’s face it, almost everybody wants to attend Princeton), they do help the school gauge your areas of interest, your academic and extracurricular strengths, and the ways through which you’d contribute to the campus community. Let’s take a closer look at each of the Princeton prompts and ways you could approach them.
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (Response required in about 150 words.)
It might be difficult to pick only one of your activities for the Princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022 , or the right extracurricular might jump out to you immediately. In either case, it’s okay if this activity is not the one that looks most impressive to others. When analyzing your supplemental essays, Princeton wants to know “ what you care about, what commitments you have made and what you’ve done to act on those commitments. ” What’s key here is that you choose the activity which has had the most influence on you, and allowed you to have an impact on others in return. Choose an activity that has helped your growth, developed your career interest, or is the one activity you look forward to the most every week.
The key words in this prompt are “particularly meaningful.” Remember to address what makes this activity more meaningful to you than the others. Has it helped you hone your leadership skills? Has it catalyzed your motivation to work with others? Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life? 150 words is extremely short, so don’t spend all of your words summarizing the activity. Throw in a short anecdote, or focus on describing ways that this activity stands out over the rest and why it holds that special spot in your life.
For A.B. Degree Applicants or Those Who are Undecided:
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in about 250 words.)
This is the closest the university gets to a “why Princeton” essay. Admissions officers don’t just want to know why you’re applying to Princeton generally; they expect you to go into specific detail about Princeton’s academic offerings. You can talk about multiple interests across the humanities, arts, natural sciences, and social sciences.
Notice that this type of essay should mainly cover academics. Princeton’s clubs and student organizations may make it an alluring place for you, but the question explicitly asks about your choice of study. Look through the college website and think about what you can write that won’t be common in other students’ essays. Is there an English professor whose writing resonates with you? Would a particular psychology or sociology class perfectly fit in with your 10-year plan? Remember that admissions officers are trying to figure out how you’d make the most of your experience on the Princeton campus. So, write elaborately about how you would take advantage of the curriculum and give them a sense of the ways in which you’d make a valuable addition in the classroom.
Check out all supplemental essay prompts here!
For b.s.e degree applicants:.
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. (Please respond in about 250 words.)
This essay is required if you’ve indicated Bachelor of Science in Engineering as a possible degree on your application, and with good reason. Princeton wants to know whether you are genuinely interested in the field of engineering, and specifically in the Princeton School of Engineering’s offerings. This is a much more standard supplemental essay prompt than the one before. Most engineering programs will require a similar essay, so don’t write a response that could be substituted for an application to any other school. Your answer must be as specific as possible to Princeton’s engineering offerings.
Don’t go overboard with all the reasons you’re interested in studying engineering. Focus on one or two of your most impactful activities and experiences, such as working in an engineering lab over the summer or building a robot at school. Again, you must be specific! Shallow motivations won’t win over Princeton’s admissions officers. If you want to excel with this question, you need to research concrete examples of what appeals to you. For example, you could talk about how working with the Princeton Engineering Education for Kids student organization combines your love for engineering and working with children.
Admissions officers are looking for students who are passionate about their major, involved community leaders, and truly interested in Princeton. This essay is a great chance to show that you check all of the boxes.
Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.
At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
Princeton wants to know how students will engage in classroom discussions and conversations during meals and or in hallways. The difficult topic you address isn’t limited to academics—it could be about sports, books, music, movies, television, or politics (although I would tread the latter department carefully). You could have been on the more generally agreed upon side of a common debate, or you may have held a controversial view. The important part isn’t what happened, so focus instead on the latter parts of the question. Dedicate most of your essay to discussing what insight you gained from the conversation, how you’ve acted since, and how you would bring this knowledge to Princeton.
Be careful while answering this prompt, especially if your viewpoint on the topic can be seen as controversial. With a topic like this, it’s easy to get carried away with your writing, especially if you have a lot of feelings on the matter. You only have 250 words at hand, so remember that your goal here is to talk about why this anecdote stands out to you and how it has shaped you. Allow admissions officers to learn more about you, and make sure you haven’t written anything that can offend or harm any individual or group of people.
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
This prompt is geared towards understanding students' involvement in community engagement and service. If you're passionate about community work and have dedicated yourself to improving your community, this is the place to expand on it. Write about any initiatives or work you have done to positively impact your community, or if you have demonstrated your passion for service and have been recognized for it. For example, if you received a Girl Scout Gold Award, this is the place to include it.
Remember that Princeton is one of the most selective universities in the world. Simply writing about a service trip abroad, or single community service participation won't do. When you write about this topic, think about what you're genuinely passionate about when it comes to community involvement, and how you have conveyed sustained commitment towards it.
More About You
Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!
- What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
- What brings you joy?
- What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
These questions might throw you off a little. After all, how can you figure out what Princeton is even looking for? Don’t panic. You definitely don’t have to come up with responses that you believe are super deep and intellectual. Don’t mention that your favorite song is a jazz or classical piece if you think these sound impressive even though you don't actually like them. As cheesy as it sounds, the question states that you should be yourself. Admissions officers want to get to know you.
You don’t have to force yourself to be extra witty, but if you can come up with fun or clever answers to questions that allow for it, such as, “what brings you joy,” that’s great! But let it come to you naturally. Admissions officers have had years of experience reading answers to questions like these. They know if you’re trying to guess what you think they want to hear. At the same time, think about what other applicants would say. Avoid super common answers so that you can stand out as memorable. Your answers should be unique to you and your tastes.
Additional Tips for Writing the Princeton Supplemental Essays 2021-2022
- Be authentic . Every step in your application should be genuine, including in your answers to the Princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022. Don’t write about topics or issues that you believe a Princeton admissions officer might want to see. In fact, those answers might just end up being too cliché and not work against you instead. Admissions officers will appreciate it much more if they can feel organic passion and commitment for the things that you’ve described.
- Don’t repeat your personal statement or your activities list. The goal of the Princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022 is to provide further information on who you are and what you’re all about. There’s no point in repeating what you’ve said on the rest of your application because admissions officers want each component to add something new. Princeton has even specified on the longer essay prompt that you must not repeat your personal statement. If you can’t follow these instructions, your application is basically on its way to the reject pile. You don’t want to lose before your essays have even been read!
The Princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022 might throw you off because unless you’re applying to the School of Engineering, you don’t get a chance to elaborate on why you believe Princeton is the right school for you. However, there are ways you can convey to admissions officers that you’re a great fit for the school by bringing out characteristics that the school values and highlighting them in your essays. Don’t underestimate the difference powerful supplements can make. Good luck!
Tags : applying to princeton , princeton supplemental essays 2021-2022 , princeton supplemental essays , princeton supplemental essays class of 2026 , princeton
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How to Respond to the 2022-2023 Princeton Supplemental Essay Prompts
When applying to an Ivy League institution such as Princeton University, the stakes can feel especially high. You will likely feel pressured to stand out among so many qualified applicants applying to a school with a 6% acceptance rate . Fortunately, Princeton includes a variety of questions in their supplemental essays. This series of prompts is advantageous because it allows you to share multiple perspectives. Your answers should give admissions a better picture of who you are and the dynamic things you bring to the table.
Let’s walk through how best to approach each essay.
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Breaking down each of the Princeton supplemental essays
The first prompt will differ depending on what kind of degree you are trying to pursue . Both iterations address your academic interests, what influenced those curiosities, and how you can further explore them at Princeton. Keep in mind A.B. degree is the same as a Bachelor’s of Art, just in Latin. B.S.E. is a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering.
Related: How to write an essay about yourself
Prompt #1 (for A.B. degree applicants or those who are undecided)
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in about 250 words)
This prompt is pretty straightforward. Think about what subjects you have been most drawn to throughout your schooling. Next, trace back where you formed that interest or how you have engaged it. Did your nightly routine of reading bedtime stories ignite your love for creative writing? Are you pursuing Asian studies after your experiences traveling?
Once you have nailed down what intellectually excites you and a short anecdote of its origins, connect it to Princeton. Be as specific as possible in citing how Princeton’s academics will support your goals. For instance, look into course catalogs and find a class that sounds right up your alley. Make sure your Princeton example aligns with the intellectual passion you’ve woven throughout your response.
Questions to consider:
- When were you first fascinated by your chosen subject?
- Does Princeton offer a niche major or minor most other schools lack?
- Is there a study abroad program or other special learning opportunity that intrigues you?
Prompt #1 (for B.S.E degree applicants)
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. (Please respond in about 250 words)
This prompt is like the first, but with a specific concentration on engineering. Do not be afraid to unleash your curiosity for the subject or brag on relevant work you’ve done. You could go for a more abstract response and describe what it is about designing and building that excites you. You might reference your knack for fixing household objects growing up. Or, you may describe engineering projects you have completed that inspired this career goal. For example, your participation in a robotics club in high school could have been instrumental in forming your enthusiasm.
To help you outline how Princeton can further your interests, dig into its website. Is there a spotlight on students’ research that models what you’d like to explore? Is there a part of the school’s strategic plan that excites you? This track is especially competitive and focused. Aim to show admissions your zeal for engineering and back it up with examples.
- Do you have your sights set on a particular field within engineering?
- Have you received any accolades for engineering-related projects or classes?
- Is there an undergraduate student organization within the engineering school that you hope to join?
Prompt #2 (extracurricular activity and work experience)
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (150 words)
This prompt is very open-ended. It is common to feel overwhelmed by broadness due to the many directions you could take your answer. However, try to focus on the words “particularly meaningful.” If more than one engagement comes to mind, make a list. Write out all the activities you’ve been involved with and why you value each one.
Has one of your hobbies allowed you to find community? Has volunteering for a non-profit given you a cause to fight for? Did you hold a job that solidified why you want to pursue your intended career path? Admissions wants to learn about the experiences that have shaped your character. Your sincerity should shine here!
- Has one of your hobbies taught you a new skill you cherish?
- Have you participated in travel that challenged your beliefs?
- Did growing up playing a sport influence how you define teamwork?
Prompt #3 (your voice)
At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future? (250 words)
Unlike Prompt #2, this question is very specific. It instructs you to share a particular situation, what you learned from it, and how you are applying those insights going forward. Keep in mind that “diverse perspectives” can reference those with differing political views, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds, and more.
Think about a time when you’ve had to navigate tricky subjects with someone that identifies differently than you do. Did you hear about a friend’s struggles with bullying and vow to never be a bystander? Did you have to talk to your religious parents about your questions about faith? Princeton wants to know how you can work through conflict and come out with a more accepting, informed worldview.
- Have you learned about prejudice after discussing social issues with those who belong to a marginalized group?
- Did you overcome biased thoughts about someone and leave the conversation with greater empathy?
- What difficult conversations have you had to initiate vs. being confronted with them by others?
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.(250 words)
This question wants to know how you have made a mark in your community. Have you volunteered consistently for a particular charity? Did you write a research paper on a social problem that has made you want to get involved? Do you plan to run for student government? Use this space to discuss a cause you are passionate about, whether advocating for animal rights or fostering financial literacy. If you have not had much experience giving back in this space, be sure to reference how you will do so once at Princeton. Be careful not to discuss the same examples in this prompt as prompt #2.
- Has any community service you’ve done felt particularly special?
- What problems do you wish you could solve in the world?
- What Princeton clubs or student activities interest you in the civic engagement space?
Prompts #5,6,7: More about you
Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself! 1. What is a new skill you would like to learn in college? 2. What brings you joy? 3. What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
Trust the admissions team’s encouragement to be yourself! Do not overthink these answers and be authentic in what first comes to mind to best portray your personality.
Have you wanted to play a new instrument or learn a new language? Do you have a “happy place” that brings you joy? Or a hobby like crochet? Has your mood been optimistic like “Walking on Sunshine,” or is there a new hit you can’t stop playing? Let these flow easily from you and have fun!
With the response limit, there is a bit of room to offer more context or explanation. Don’t feel pressured to use all 50 words, though—a simple answer is expected!
Graded written paper
In addition to the supplemental essays, Princeton requires applicants to submit a graded written paper for consideration as a part of their application. Essentially, you will need to submit a paper that you have completed for an academic course, preferably an English or history course, during the last 3 years of high school.
When selecting a graded paper, keep the following in mind:
- Do not send a creative writing assignment, rather submit a research paper or essay exam
- The paper should be 1-2 pages in length
- The paper should include the grade as well as any comments your teacher may have provided
How to submit the graded written paper
- Option 1: Upload the graded written paper within your application materials in the Common Application or QuestBridge Application
- Option 2: Mail, email or upload the graded written paper to your Princeton applicant portal
For any questions regarding the graded written paper, visit Princeton’s website or reach out to a Princeton admissions officer.
Final thoughts on writing the Princeton supplemental essays
Now you have broken apart each prompt and jotted down examples to reference in your answers. Before writing, be sure you are taking advantage of the variety of questions to showcase different aspects of yourself. Try not to be repetitive with anecdotes you share across prompts.
You are likely to have too much to say once you start writing with these 250 word limits. We suggest you get all your thoughts down and trim responses later. With proper planning, you can surely find success with the Princeton supplemental essays. We wish you the best of luck !
Also see: All you need to know about Princeton eating clubs
Next steps for students
As you are writing your Princeton supplemental essays, be sure to check out our guides on how many schools to apply to . Make sure you prepare well and also read about how to find safety, reach, and match schools .
With so many colleges and universities going test-optional, you might be wondering, whether or not to send your SAT/ACT scores. Learn about what is best for you to maximize your chances for acceptance. Speaking of acceptances, once you start hearing back, we can help you create a college comparison spreadsheet to make your college choice. Finally, apply and earn all the scholarships you qualify for with our free scholarship search tool . Good luck!
More supplemental essay guides
- Columbia University (New York, NY)
- Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
- University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Cornell University (Ithaca,NY)
- University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
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October 12, 2022
Tips for Answering the Princeton University Supplemental Essay Prompts [2022 – 2023]
It will come as no surprise that Princeton University is among the top schools in the nation and is recognized globally for academic excellence. This Ivy League school is renowned as a major research university as well as an outstanding liberal arts college. In addition to the Common Application, Universal College Application or Coalition Application essay, Princeton also requires supplemental writing responses. These additional essays help the admissions committee to understand your particular strengths and potential contributions to the Princeton community comprehensively. Princeton prides itself on the diversity of talents, achievements, perspectives, and interests of its student body. At the same time, it is looking for a freshman class that shares the following qualities: “integrity, a deep interest in learning and a devotion to both academic and non-academic pursuits.” Think about how you can contribute to Princeton as well as how Princeton can support your aspirations.
The best way to begin is by doing your research. Spend time looking over the Princeton website, get to know what current undergraduates are saying about the school, familiarize yourself with the various majors, and imagine yourself there. If possible, visit the campus (virtually), allow yourself to get excited about this opportunity, and make every effort to gain a sense of why Princeton is the ideal academic environment for you!
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Located in a suburban setting, Princeton is primarily a residential campus with a strong liberal arts focus. Its residential college structure, freshman seminars, and preceptorial system support the tight-knit student community. These are hallmarks of an education at Princeton and demonstrate the university’s commitment to student-centered learning within the context of a diverse student body, faculty, and staff.
Remember to allow your writing to express your voice as you address the following Princeton supplemental questions; consider how your responses reveal your intellectual curiosity, passion for learning, and engagement with the world.
Princeton University supplemental application prompts
Princeton university short essay questions.
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words)
It’s very common for students to talk about their experiences in general terms, but you will stand out by telling real stories that will reveal (at least very briefly) not only what you did but what you learned as a result. For example, while earning leadership badges with the Girl Scouts, you could write about how you took on a leadership role by organizing a community tree-planting initiative or mental health awareness program. Explain why that role was meaningful to you. Or you may have needed to take on additional responsibility at a job that required a lot of creativity. If you have played guitar or have been writing poetry for several years, how have these hobbies shaped you? What do these experiences reveal about your character and values?
Please respond to each question in an essay of 250 words or fewer.
1. At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
Here, you might want to emphasize two things: how this conversation influenced your thinking (e.g., your long-held beliefs were challenged and opened your eyes to a new perspective); and secondly, how the conversation remained respectful (e.g., you were tempted to raise your voice or walk out but did not). What will you do to ensure that you can continue having hard but respectful exchanges in the future? Finally, be sure to say something about why these hard conversations are nonetheless important– Princeton clearly wants its students to be having them! Read: 7 Simple Steps to Writing an Excellent Diversity Essay
2. Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
Think about your involvement thus far in service and civic engagement. What have you done to help others; to serve your country; to volunteer your time? Then , research what Princeton students do to stay civically engaged. Given your background, how would you contribute to those things already in place at Princeton? How might you add to or improve what already exists?
More About You
Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!
Note: In this section, make sure to include both the “what” and the “why”– for example, “What brings me joy is X because of Y.” Your task is both to describe and to explain, to show logical and articulate thinking.
– What is a new skill you would like to learn in college? – What brings you joy? – What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
Final thoughts on applying to Princeton
Each of these essay prompts ask you to share something personal about yourself, discuss how an experience impacted you, and explain how you make sense of your world . They ask you to articulate your values and provide insight into your thinking process. They want you to reveal how you evaluate information and make decisions. Select the themed essay topic that strikes a cord with you. Make sure to convey your enthusiasm for that subject and for Princeton.
Princeton has a highly competitive and impressive applicant pool. It received tens of thousands of undergraduate applications for the class of 2026. Only 1,500 were offered admission. Add to that average SAT scores above 1500, and average ACT scores around 33, and you get a better sense of the level of competition. However, keep in mind that Princeton is committed to a holistic approach to the admissions process. This means they use your essay responses to round out the picture of you as a prospective student. The supplemental essays are your chance to share valuable information about yourself and differentiate yourself from your peers. In your essays, you can demonstrate that you belong at Princeton!
If you’re applying to Princeton University, you already know you’re up against tight competition. Don’t be overwhelmed. Get the guidance of an experienced admissions specialist who will help you stand out from the highly competitive applicant pool so you can apply with confidence, and get accepted! Click here to get started!
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for over twenty years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch .
- 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your College Application Essays , a free guide
- How to Project Professionalism, Positivity, and Confidence in Your Statement of Purpose
- Different Dimensions of Diversity , a podcast episode
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Graded Written Paper
The graded written paper will help the Admission Office assess the student’s written expression in an academic setting. This will further the holistic understanding of the student’s application and help admission officers evaluate the student’s potential contributions and ability to thrive in the University’s rigorous academic environment.
We ask all students to submit a graded written paper for consideration as part of their application to Princeton.
When selecting a paper to submit, please keep in mind the following guidelines:
The paper should be writing done for an academic course, preferably an English, social studies or history course, during the last three years of secondary school, including senior year.
You may send a paper, essay, research paper or essay exam. We are interested in seeing expository writing only, not creative writing.
One to two pages in length is sufficient.
The paper should include the course instructor’s grade, and comments if your instructor provided any.
Princeton no longer requires applicants to submit the optional writing section of the SAT or ACT (the SAT Essay or ACT Writing Test), because taking the test with the optional writing section adds an additional cost that may be a financial burden to some applicants. We became concerned that students at schools where the ACT or SAT is offered for free, but only without the optional writing section, would then need to pay to take the test with the optional writing section. Please review our standardized testing policy .
NOTE: If submitting an official score report is a financial hardship, Princeton will continue to review applications with self-reported scores, verified by a school official such as a school counselor, teacher or dean.
How to Submit the Graded Written Paper
To submit your graded written paper, choose one of the following options:
Option 1: Upload the graded written paper alongside your application materials when submitting the Common Application or QuestBridge Application.
Option 2: Mail, email or upload the graded written paper to your applicant portal.
The grade and the teacher comments should appear on the paper. If a grading rubric was used, please include this information along with your paper. The Admission Office is more interested in the quality of the writing than the grade it received and encourages you to submit a graded written paper that shows your best efforts, regardless of the grade.
If your school does not offer grades for student work, please submit teacher comments and a rubric.
If you have already graduated and are taking a year off, you may contact your secondary school to obtain a graded written paper.
Please see additional information about the graded written paper on the pages that offer further details for:
All my papers are in another language. What should I do?
We ask for a paper written in English because all Princeton courses (with the exception of foreign language courses) are taught in English. If you are unable to provide a graded written paper, we will still review your application, but we will have less information with which to review your file.
Can the graded written paper come from a summer course or a college course outside of school?
The graded written paper should come from a course of instruction that is listed on your academic transcript.
Do you need to see the grade/instructor comments on the same document that is uploaded, or can they be separate?
They may be separate, but please upload them as one document. If using a grading rubric, please include this information along with your paper.
How can I submit my graded written paper?
Option 1: Upload the graded written paper alongside your application materials when submitting the Common Application. We will accept scanned documents.
Option 2: Mail, e-mail, or upload the graded written paper to your applicant portal. We will accept scanned documents.
I graduated last year and don’t have a paper to submit. What should I do?
We encourage you to reach out to your teachers or school counselors to obtain a graded written paper from your last three years of secondary school. If you are unable to provide a graded written paper, we will still review your application, but we will have less information with which to review your file.
I have a number of papers I can submit but none have the actual grade on it. What should I do?
We encourage you to reach out to your teachers or school counselors to obtain a graded written paper from your last three years of secondary school. If the grade or comments are on a separate piece of paper, please attach this to your submission. If there is no grade written on the paper, please speak to your teacher to ask them to attach, or attest to, the original grade.
I initially submitted my paper through turnitin.com. Will this disadvantage me?
What are the graded written paper requirements for an international student.
The graded written paper must have been written in English, not translated from another language into English. More information is available on our international students page .
What if I do not have a paper from an English, social studies or history course?
Though we prefer the paper come from an English, social studies or history course, we understand that course offerings can vary greatly from school to school. Applicants should submit a graded written paper that demonstrates their writing skills.
What if my school does not grade?
We encourage you to reach out to your teachers or school counselors to obtain official comments on your paper. If there is a grading rubric that explains how the written work is evaluated, please include it with your submission.
What is a graded written paper?
A graded written paper refers to a paper written in the last three years of secondary school that was graded by a teacher. For transfer applicants, a graded written paper may come from a course taken within the last two years of schooling.
Below you will find the supplemental questions for the 2022-23 application cycle. Depending on which degree you wish to pursue at Princeton (A.B., B.S.E. or undecided), you will answer one of the two academic prompts, then there are three additional sections meant to help us get to know you even better.
Princeton supplemental essay example # 1 Prompt: As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.
Essay 1: Teenage Angst Essay 2: Feminism and Activism Essay 3: Approval of Others Essay 4: Why Engineering Essay 5: Playing Piano Essay 6: Marvel vs DC Where to Get Your Essay Edited for Free Princeton University is consistently ranked within the top three colleges in the nation, and is world-renowned for its quality of education.
Here's a great example for this essay: Example 1: I look up at the wall. This feels impossible. "Just go for it!" my friend Jack says to me. "It seems harder than it is." During my first year climbing, I spent much time contemplating all possible routes and strategies.
Supplemental Essay Type (s): Community, Activity, Why, Oddball This is Princeton, the Number One university in the nation. Maybe you've heard of it? JK, we can smell the sweat on your palms from here. So first, take a breath.
Princeton Essay Examples - Short Essay #1 Now that we know more about Princeton's essay requirements, let's look at some Princeton supplemental essays examples. The first prompt for the Princeton essay examples asks you to describe how you have spent the last two summer breaks from school.
Here's the breakdown: 1 150-word response 2 250-word responses 3 50-word responses Princeton also requires applicants to submit one graded academic paper as part of their application. (We will not be addressing this in this post.) Prompt #1:Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
Princeton Supplemental Essays - Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words). Take the university at their word and select an activity that is "particularly meaningful to you."
Princeton University Essay Example #1 Prompt: Last Two Summers Princeton University Essay Example #2 Prompt: Influential Person Princeton University Essay Example #3 Prompt: Accomplishment, Event, or Realization Princeton University Essay Example #4 Prompt: Background, Identity, Interest, or Talent Princeton University Essay Example #5
Princeton Supplemental Essay 2022-2023. There are seven Princeton University supplemental essays that all applicants must write. While this may feel daunting, take comfort—each Princeton supplemental essay is on the shorter side. ... Use these Princeton essay examples to observe how each student used their individual voice but also ...
Example: "Sweat. Must. Dirt. These things became my world as my face crushed down onto the mat. I struggled to break loose, but it was useless - I was pinned." This writing is immersive and leaves us nowhere to go but up. 2. Start with your highest point. When we get really into our hobbies, most of us attain a state of flow, or even euphoria.
07 SEP 2022 Like most other universities, Princeton is looking for essays that show introspection, personality, insight, and thought process. Although Princeton has low acceptance rates, these essays can help you stand out in your application. What are Princeton's Supplemental Essay Prompts for 2022/23?
Got your heart set on Princeton—the #1 ranked university in the US? Then you'll need to learn how to write amazing Princeton essays for your Princeton Supplement, a key part of your application for admission.
How hard is it to get into Princeton? Learn strategies and review sample Princeton supplemental essays learn how to get into princeton Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Princeton admission requirements Part 3: Applying to Princeton early action vs. regular decision Part 4: 2022-2023 Princeton supplemental essays (examples included) ----
The Princeton supplemental essays 2022 can seem daunting at first, but our experience and expertise will help you navigate the entire process with confidence. Hopefully, this guide to the Princeton supplemental essays 2022-2023 has been helpful, but if you want more information about how AdmissionSight can help you realize your dreams, set up ...
Look through the college website and think about what you can write that won't be common in other students' essays. Is there an English professor whose writing resonates with you? Would a particular psychology or sociology class perfectly fit in with your 10-year plan?
Option 1: Upload the graded written paper within your application materials in the Common Application or QuestBridge Application. Option 2: Mail, email or upload the graded written paper to your Princeton applicant portal. For any questions regarding the graded written paper, visit Princeton's website or reach out to a Princeton admissions ...
October 12, 2022 Reading Time: 4 minutes Tips for Answering the Princeton University Supplemental Essay Prompts [2022 - 2023] It will come as no surprise that Princeton University is among the top schools in the nation and is recognized globally for academic excellence.
Option 1: Upload the graded written paper alongside your application materials when submitting the Common Application or QuestBridge Application. Option 2: Mail, email or upload the graded written paper to your applicant portal. The grade and the teacher comments should appear on the paper.
In this Princeton University Essay Guide, we will cover how to approach the 2022 Princeton supplementary essays. The first essay is from the Princeton supplement. In order to write a strong essay, you will need to reflect on your interests and how they have developed over time. Be sure to give specific examples of experiences and coursework ...