How to Write the Pitzer Supplement 2019-2020

Pitzer is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California, about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Pitzer has an undergraduate student body of just 1060, but it is also part of the Claremont consortium of colleges. As students at one of five schools in the consortium, Pitzer’s small student body has access to a huge variety of classes across the colleges as well as additional dining halls and extracurriculars.

Pitzer has become well known for their dual commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. From dining options that prioritize locally sourced produce to sustainably constructed residence halls and a commitment to equality on and off-campus, Pitzer practices what they preach. There is even a student-run free bike share! Back to the food, though, Pitzer’s dining hall is routinely rated one of the best college dining experiences in the country.

The acceptance rate is 13.2%

The Pitzer supplement for this year is nearly the same as the one they used last year.

At Pitzer College, five core values distinguish our approach to education: social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. As agents of change, our students utilize these values to create solutions to our world's challenges. Find out more about our core values. Please choose from the following prompts and answer below (650-word limit):

Before you continue any further, you need to read the core values. You can also take this fun Pitzer-approved Buzzfeed quiz to figure out which one you ‘are’!

  • Describe what you are looking for from your college experience and why Pitzer would be a good fit for you

This is a warped ‘why us?’ question. It doesn’t give you much to go on, but we ask our students who select it to hit on three categories: academics, extracurriculars, and core values. This doesn’t mean your essay should be a fancied-up list of bullet points. We (and the application readers) still expect narrative, story arc, and a look into how you think that we can’t get from a formulaic presentation of points.

When you write about academics, you should be tying what you are passionate about and pursuing now to what you intend to pursue at Pitzer. You need to include a major, a class or two that you are drawn to, a professor you want to work with, and a program (such as study abroad or an internship program) that you are interested in taking part in. Showing this level of specificity signals to the reader that you aren’t just saying that you know Pitzer would work for you — you know it because you’ve done the research necessary to actually know.

Same goes for extracurriculars. Don’t talk about contributing to “the student paper.” Name the paper. Don’t talk about joining a certain type of club. Name the club. All of this information is available on the internet for nearly every college in America if you are willing to spend a little time searching.

And, of course, there are the core values. Just because this prompt doesn’t mention the core values doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still be incorporating the ones that resonate most with you into your answer. You don’t need to be heavy-handed, but they should be present in how you respond.

  • Reflecting on your involvement throughout high school or within the community, how have you engaged with one of Pitzer’s core values?

“Reflecting” can be a tough word. It sounds simple, but it can cause students to write a supplement that is all reflection and no story — which can feel a lot like navel-gazing for the reader. But before you can get to the reflection point, you need to orient your reader within the world and the activity you are reflecting on. One of our writers spent six summers at a camp that is also a sustainable working farm. Pulling carrots and even carrying out chicken harvest drastically shaped her world view. If applying to Pitzer, she would pair this with Pitzer’s focus on sustainability. It’s a logical match, but she wouldn’t just jump in and say, “I worked on a farm, and it made me think of X.” No, she’d tell a story. Perhaps she’d start with the taste of rhubarb. Very few people like gnawing on rhubarb stalks raw, but it’s something she took a liking to after it was the “free patch” (pick as much as you want) for nearly an entire summer. That connection to rhubarb inspired her to learn more about the food system around her.

By starting with a story, you are building the foundation necessary to truly connect with your reader and convey the sincerity of your message.  

  • Pitzer is known for our students’ intellectual and creative activism. If you could work on a cause that is meaningful to you through a project, artistic, academic, or otherwise, what would you do?

Pitzer loves students who dream of making a difference, but this prompt is really aimed at students who are already doing something to create change. Yes, it is a forward-looking question. It asks, “what would you do [in the future]?” However, if you don’t have anything to ground your aspirations in, all you’re really doing is throwing energy out into the universe and hoping that it sticks. 

We love when students who are active in their community use this prompt as a way to reflect on their current work while sharing their goals for future accomplishments. If you already volunteer with a nonprofit that works with refugees that have been resettled in your community and would like to one-day improve the system of resettlement, this could be the perfect prompt for you.


Are you looking to align your beliefs with your educational ecosystem? Give us a call! We specialize in pairing students with colleges that match their profile academically, socially, and morally.