How to Write the George Washington University (GWU) Supplement 2018-2019

GWU is a private university in Washington, D.C with an undergraduate body of approximately 11,000 students. It’s one of the most politically active schools in the United States. The admission rate for the class of 2022 was 42%.

GWU provides two options (both 250 words) for their writing supplement, and you’ll pick one. They’re broken down below:

Essay Prompt 1

At the George Washington University, our students frequently interact with policymakers and world leaders. These experiences and those of our alumni can shape the future of global affairs. If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why?

We’ll start by saying that if you don’t have an answer come to mind immediately for this question, you’re probably better off writing the second essay. This kind of question makes it really easy for students to pick one of the most devastating occurrences of all time, step onto a soapbox, and try to rewrite history. And that’s definitely not the way to go.

If this prompt does call to you, start by thinking of a characteristic about yourself you want to show with your answer and then pick the part of history you’d want to change. Think really small here and be incredibly specific: the problem you choose needs to ultimately speak directly to characteristic you’re trying to highlight. Let’s say your application thus far shows that you’re a math genius and debate club enthusiast, but you’re passionate about animal rights and you haven’t had the chance to show that. You could start by doing research about poor treatment of animals, how most pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills, or the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China. Think about small changes you could make to prevent animals from being tortured.

Another good way to think small would be to write about a change you’d like to make in your own community. For example, the expansion of the Cross Bronx Expressway in the Bronx prevented many communities from building supermarkets which made it difficult to buy fresh produce. You could write about what the lack of access to healthy food did to your community, and why you’d like to change things.  

Essay Prompt 2

The George Washington University encourages students to think critically and to challenge the status quo. Thus, civil discourse is a key characteristic of our community. Describe a time when you engaged others in meaningful dialogue around an issue that was important to you. Did this exchange create change, new perspectives, or deeper relationships?

This prompt gives you an opportunity to explain your views on an issue that you’re passionate about, and it’s important to do so because admission officers at GW want to know that you can express your standpoint (whatever that is) clearly and cohesively. Don’t get overwhelmed by the wording of this question: we are living in a time where current members of the U.S. government mock one another on Twitter, so no one is expecting you to have solved a huge issue with one conversation.

You don’t necessarily need to have changed someone’s mind with your argument, but you do need to use the conversation you write about as a vehicle for explaining your own views. Think of a time when you had a conversation with someone with a different perspective. What was the issue at hand? Identify what it means to you by addressing the below:  

  1. Conflict: what was the conversation about?

  2. Conversation: how did the conversation go? (Explain your viewpoint)

  3. Resolution: what was the outcome?  

This conflict needs to be small. No one is going to believe that you single-handedly turned someone into an avid feminist with one conversation. It’s really important to keep in mind that change doesn’t happen overnight, and small inches towards progress are still worthy of writing about. It’s about making room for civilized discourse and trying to understand others.


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