How to Write the Princeton Supplement 2018-2019

Princeton University is located in Princeton, New Jersey. A member of the Ivy League, last year, Princeton’s acceptance rate was a mere 5.5 percent. Much like the other Ivy League applications, Princeton’s should tell you something about the school. It’s not easy and if you find it hard to finish, you probably shouldn’t be applying. Sorry. Much like Yale, Princeton was late to its own party and just posted recently their supplement online. So, now that we have the information, we are happy to share our thoughts with the world:

In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no fewer than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.

 Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.

Off limits: mom, grandma, famous people.  

This is, essentially, an additional Common App essay. Approach it as such. You should tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Think about what you’d like to show about yourself. It should be the second most important thing that’s not already in our application. Think about your soft skills and the small stuff that makes you, you. 

Find a person who has influenced you. This should not be someone famous. This story should focus on something well thought-out in your own life. It should be a unique, beautiful, everyday moment.

“One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics, Princeton University. This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.

All of the school’s this year have a super on-topic, zeitgeisty question. Welcome to Princeton’s.

We honestly don’t know what 17-year-old would answer this. But if you must…the question is not asking you to solve a problem. It’s asking you to comment or share your opinion on the above statement. The best way in is to avoid big, sweeping, existential ideas and focus on smaller, specific lessons. Talk about a time in which this applied in your life. The best conclusion would be a non-conclusion that your story exemplifies.

But truly, we wouldn’t answer this one. We like question #1 the most.

“Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.” Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and chair, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University.

This year, every school also has a diversity question and this is Princeton’s. If you believe that the person reading your application hasn’t been to your neighborhood and/or you believe you are truly distinct from someone who is from Princeton, New Jersey, then feel free to go for this question. You can build a whole world for a reader in 650 words. Remember, God is in the details.

Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.

This one is most comparable to the kind of essay you are probably used to writing in high school. However, it has a lot of red flags. Your source material needs to be perfect in the most personal way possible. Your quote must also be perfect. We think #1 is way better, but if you must answer this one…

Show another part of your personality or your mind that hasn’t been represented elsewhere in your application. This essay must be beautiful. It can’t be a book report. Also, use humor.

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