How to Write the Emory Supplement 2018-2019

Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia is a leading research university that offers an outstanding education. It’s competitive, but one of the things that we like about it is that in the time of tiny acceptance rates, it’s still accessible for high-achieving students. Last year (2017-18), they accepted 22% of applicants. 1 in 4 isn’t high by any means, but throwing your hat in the ring is worth it for students who want a medium-sized-college experience (7916 undergrads) with big-school resources.

This year, the Emory supplement has four questions, but you only have to answer two of them—and which two is of your choice. Below, we’ve broken down each question to help you pick which ones to respond to.  

In addition to the Common Application Personal Statement, please choose two (2) of the short answer prompts below. Be thoughtful in your responses, but don’t stress about what the right answer might be -- we just want to get to know you a bit better. Each response should be no more than 150 words.

Since the word limit is the same regardless of which questions you pick, we want to take a moment to emphasize something that we say fairly frequently: When it comes to the college application process, suggestions are NOT suggestions. If they say “should be,” they mean “must be.” Why don’t they just say that then? Because they want to see if you’ll follow the most basic guideline imaginable. Which is all to say, none of your answers should be over 150 words.

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

Here is your cheat sheet for answering this question:

  1. Pick an adjective that you would like to use as your guide

  2. List out at least six things that fit into at least two of the different categories (book, TV, film, etc.)

  3. Throw out any that were assigned in school or that sound like they could be assigned in school

What you are left with is your short list. While you’re going through this process, please don’t convince yourself that writing about a book is somehow more high-brow than writing about a TV show. If Freaks & Geeks is somehow really illustrative and totally your vibe, then you have great taste and should also go for it. Don’t say Donnie Darko, though, or Friends for that matter. Anything that is creepy, cheesy, or too wildly popular isn’t a great idea. Afterall, how many essays about The Catcher in the Rye or Pretty Little Liars would you want to read? (Answer: Not that many.)

What motivates you to learn?

First things first: Don’t choose this one. Please. The answer to this question should be addressed and integrated into any of the other questions you choose. The reader should know what motivates you from your answers and without you having to spell it out.  

If you insist on picking this question, please tell an origin story. Keep it small and focused, or else you’ll sound like a weird politician that no one wants to be friends with.  

Just to reiterate, you should actually skip this one.

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

This question can be a solid option, but it has a way of inspiring kids to portray themselves as heroes. That may be a good thing in your local newspaper, but it’s not useful in your college applications. This also isn’t a question for people from homogenous communities that are very similar to Emory.

If you are from a community that is very different from Emory, though, jump on this one. Use it as a way to illustrate yourself and to describe where you are from and how you’ve gotten to where you are. While that may sound grand, be sure to keep it small. And remember, you need to know Emory before you can say what you’re going to bring to them, so you need to do your research. 

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

This is our favorite question in the Emory supplement, and we think every kid should consider answering it. Why? Because it has so much potential for storytelling that thinks outside of the box. For example, you could write a dinner scene that builds a conversation in layers, and that shows the reader how you interact with others. Instead of writing something generic like “integrity looks like…,” you need to make the reader feel it in their bones.

Whatever angle you choose to take, whether approaching it through conversation, observation, or a story of an experience, be careful not to become preachy. Be small, connect with the reader, and don’t reach for heroism when what you want to show is how human you are.


Is Emory your dream school? We can help you show them just how amazing you are.