How to Write the Barnard College Supplement 2018-2019

Barnard is an all women’s college in New York City with an undergraduate student body of approximately 2,500. It’s right across the street from Columbia University and students are able to take advantage of Columbia’s resources and curriculum. The acceptance rate for the class of 2022 was 13.7%.

It’s no secret that we love Barnard and their writing supplements, both of which are broken down below.

What factors influenced your decision to apply to Barnard College and why do you think the College would be a good match for you? (100-250 words)

This essay is a bit less formulaic than a traditional “Why Us” question because of its length but your goal is still to prove that your interests align seamlessly with Barnard’s offerings. It’s better to focus on a few aspects of Barnard that you’re interested in, not list off all of your activities and overload your essay with facts about the school. Really do your research here: explore the academic offerings, extracurriculars, certain professors you want to take classes with, and get good grasp on the culture of the school. Find something (or two things) that align with your interests and explain why Barnard is the best place for you to further explore that topic. We recommend talking to current students, going on a campus tour, and/or stalking the school on social media (Twitter and Instagram geotags can be really helpful) before you start writing as well. Weave facts about your background and interests into a narrative about yourself tied into what Barnard has to offer.

Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about? (100-250 words)

We love this question and it’s a great opportunity to shed light on an aspect of your personality that you haven’t had a chance to show just yet. It’s most important that you don’t pick someone that needs no explanation: your essay will get glossed right over if you pick someone mainstream. We’ve even come up with a list of women you shouldn’t pick. Don’t gloss over the fact that the woman you choose can also be a fictional character.

You want to pick someone that sheds light on one of your interests and passions in way that’s not super obvious. Start by making a list of topics that you’re interested in. Break them into categories then sort and filter. Figure out what’s missing from your application, or perhaps something you mentioned in your activities but never expanded upon. Once you’ve settled on a topic, THEN start brainstorming about who you’ll choose.

It’s better to start with the topic because if it’s something you’re really interested in, you should already have a few questions in mind. Let’s say you’re interested in food science and want to discuss rooftop farming: you’d start by searching for experts in the field and might stumble upon someone who might make for an ideal conversationalist. That’s a much better approach to this essay than saying “I’m going to figure out what to ask Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

Your essay needs to address what you’ll talk about and it should go without saying that you should steer clear of the very obvious questions. Think about engaging with this person, not grilling them about their resume. What you choose to talk about is also a sneaky way of showing off your own knowledge on a topic so don’t shy away from obscure or tough questions. Remember that the woman you choose is a vehicle to delve into into your interest, so don’t be afraid to ask questions that go deep.


We know how tricky these supplements can get, and as always we’re here to help.