Barnard Supplemental Essays 2023-24
One of the key steps to getting into Barnard is writing your Barnard College supplemental essays. Like many top schools, Barnard uses supplemental essays to learn more about their applicants during the admissions process. Before we start our discussion of the Barnard supplemental essays, let’s learn a bit more about Barnard.
In this guide to the Barnard supplemental essays, we’ll go over Barnard’s essay and application requirements. Mainly, we will discuss the required Barnard college essays, like the Why Barnard essay, along with the optional Barnard essays. Throughout, you’ll find tips on approaching the Barnard College essays and advice on how to get into Barnard.
Ready to get started? First, let’s review some quick facts about the Barnard College application process.
Barnard Essays: Quick Facts
Barnard College Supplemental Essays Quick Facts
- Barnard Acceptance Rate: 11% – U.S. News ranks Barnard as a highly selective school.
- Barnard Supplemental Essay Requirements:
- 2 (~250 words) required Barnard supplemental essays
- Why Barnard essay
- Intellectual curiosity essay
- 3 (~250 words) optional Barnard supplemental essays
- Gender essay
- Challenging ideas essay
- One woman essay
- 2 (~250 words) required Barnard supplemental essays
- Barnard Application: Students must submit their application through the Common Application or Questbridge. Be sure to have your Barnard supplemental essays and all other required materials ready when you submit your application.
- Barnard Application Deadlines:
- Early Decision: November 1
- Regular Decision: January 1
- Barnard Supplemental Essays Tip: The Barnard acceptance rate is highly selective, so your Barnard College supplemental essays must be pristine if you want to gain acceptance. Give yourself plenty of time to rethink and revise your drafts to make sure your ideas are clear and compelling. Then, make sure you do a close, proofreading edit of your final draft – pristine essays don’t have typos!
Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website.
More info on Barnard
Barnard College is a private, liberal arts women’s college located in New York City. Founded in 1889, Barnard was the first college in NYC to offer degrees to women. Barnard consistently ranks highly among women’s colleges and is currently ranked #11 in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News.
The college is affiliated with Columbia University, another highly prestigious school in New York. This partnership allows Barnard students to share academic resources with their Columbia student counterparts across the street. So, it should be no surprise that Barnard, like Columbia, is quite selective. That means you’ll need to ace all parts of your application, especially the Barnard College supplemental essays, to gain admittance. Let’s get into it.
Does Barnard have supplemental essays?
Yes, Barnard College has supplemental essays, which are incredibly important. They contribute greatly to the overall impact of your application and are vital to crafting your personal narrative. Your Barnard College essays, in combination with the rest of your application, should paint a picture for Barnard Admissions. Who are you, and how will you contribute to the Barnard community?
The Barnard supplemental essays give you the perfect opportunity to stand out among other competitive applicants. Some of the Barnard supplemental essays, like the Why Barnard essay, are required, while others are optional. Whichever prompts you choose to answer, be sure to address the questions with thoughtful and unique responses.
When choosing how many Barnard essays to submit, consider the writing process. You’ll want to brainstorm, plan, edit, and revise your Barnard supplemental essays several times before submitting them. Consider your Barnard supplemental essays as critical personal reflections – there are no shortcuts to achieving depth and cohesion in your essays.
As previously mentioned, there are required Barnard essays and optional Barnard essays. Let’s start with the most important: the required Barnard essays.
How many essays does Barnard require?
In addition to your Common Application or Questbridge essays, first-year applicants must submit responses to the Barnard supplemental essays questions. Currently, Barnard requires two Barnard supplemental essays and allows students to write responses to three optional prompts. For the best shot at overcoming the Barnard acceptance rate, we recommend submitting responses for all five Barnard supplemental essays.
Currently, each of the Barnard supplemental essays allows responses of no more than 250 words. So, while completing all five Barnard essays sounds like a lot, they do not require long responses. The goal of the required Barnard supplemental essays is to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity, interest in Barnard, and personal values.
One of the required prompts is a Why Barnard essay, while the other pertains to curiosity. Both the required and optional essay prompts are outlined below.
What are the Barnard essay prompts?
Barnard’s application provides prompts for two required Barnard supplemental essays and three optional Barnard supplemental essays. Below are the Barnard Writing Supplement questions for first-year applicants. (Remember, the Barnard supplemental essays may change from year to year, so be sure to visit Barnard’s Admissions website.)
|Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we navigate the world and see ourselves. Tell us about when, where, or with whom you feel your most authentic, powerful self. How might Barnard College further cultivate this version of you?||x||250 words|
|Barnard College celebrates intellectual risk-taking, and we believe that academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What questions do you have about the world around you, and why do they matter to you? (250 words max)||x||250 words|
|As a college for women, “Barnard embraces its responsibility to address gender issues in all their complexity and urgency to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.” How have you thought about gender in your academic life thus far and how has it shaped your learning experiences?||x||250 words|
|Barnard College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mission statement says “Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has the potential to disrupt and transform entrenched practices and thinking.” In what ways have you challenged ideas, practices, or spaces? What did you learn from these experiences?||x||250 words|
|Pick one woman — a historical figure, a fictitious character, or a modern individual — who you’d like to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask her?||x||250 words|
Why Barnard Essay
The Why Barnard essay requires you to explain why you want to attend Barnard College. Many colleges and universities ask students to write a Why This College essay as part of their application. A Why This College essay should include the specific details that have drawn you to the school. Additionally, it should demonstrate how you would fit into the campus community. The Why Barnard essay is no different!
The Why Barnard supplemental essay prompt is as follows:
Why Barnard College Essay Prompt
Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we navigate the world and see ourselves. Tell us about when, where, or with whom you feel your most authentic, powerful self. How might Barnard College further cultivate this version of you?
This prompt requires you to explain to the admissions team why you think Barnard is the best college for you. Specifically, they want to know how the college will impact your personal growth and future goals. While the Why Barnard essay may seem simple, you’ll want to make your answer as rich and detailed as possible.
Your Why Barnard essay should be specific to Barnard’s academic experience and offerings. To best prepare your response to the Why Barnard essay, research Barnard’s curriculum, location, campus culture, and values. Being informed about Barnard will help you craft a more compelling Why Barnard essay.
Focus on the qualities that set Barnard apart from other colleges and universities. If you want the experience of living and learning in New York City, tell them why Barnard specifically. Be specific and purposeful when answering the Why Barnard essay prompt. And, rather than writing a long list, focus on only the most important details.
Remember, the Why Barnard essay is a required component of the Barnard application. Be sure to invest adequate time and energy into writing a compelling response. Want to read more about Why This College essay prompts and other college essay prompts? Check out our 8 College Essay Topics guide! You can also find Why Barnard essay examples and other Barnard essay examples here.
Barnard Supplemental Essay #2: Bold Questions
We’ve talked about the Why Barnard essay. Now, let’s talk about the second of the two required Barnard supplemental essays:
Barnard College Supplemental Essay Prompt #2
Barnard College celebrates intellectual risk-taking, and we believe that academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What questions do you have about the world around you, and why do they matter to you?
The key to this prompt is in the wording. Make sure your interest is framed as a question/questions in the context of academics. If your topic doesn’t relate to an academic area of study, it probably isn’t a strong topic for this essay.
This prompt is a great place to touch on something the admissions team may not know about you yet. Or, you could elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities that relates to a topic you are curious about. However, be sure to focus on the framework of the prompt. For instance, don’t just state that you are interested in robotics and are on your school’s robotics team. Share the questions your experiences have prompted in you, and why you are driven to find answers to them.
Even though this isn’t a Why Barnard essay, it’s still an opportunity to show you are a good fit for Barnard. Barnard values critical thinking, openness, engagement, and diversity. How can you embody these values in your approach to your chosen topic?
Because the choice is yours, you get to set the narrative. Be sure to choose something you are genuinely passionate about or that is thought-provoking for you. An uninspired essay may fall flat and won’t give admissions the same idea of you that an inspired essay will.
Optional Barnard Supplemental Essays
There are three optional Barnard supplemental essays. However, just because they are optional doesn’t mean you should skip them. The highly selective acceptance rate requires you to stand out in every way possible. So, you should take advantage of all the optional Barnard supplemental essays.
The three optional Barnard supplemental essays cover a spectrum of topics. This is valuable because they allow you to demonstrate yourself as a well-rounded and culturally competent individual. To help you feel confident approaching these additional essays, let’s go over each prompt in more detail!
Barnard essay #1 – Gender
Here is the first optional Barnard supplemental essay prompt:
Barnard College Optional Essay Prompt #1
As a college for women, “Barnard embraces its responsibility to address gender issues in all their complexity and urgency to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.” How have you thought about gender in your academic life thus far and how has it shaped your learning experiences?”
In developing your response, you’ll want to demonstrate how gender has played a role in your studies so far. While not explicitly asked in the question, you’ll also want to consider how it’s ultimately impacted your desire to attend Barnard. Women’s-only colleges offer a unique academic experience, which you may want to touch on in your essay.
A successful essay will reflect on your personal experience with concrete support. It may be helpful to ground your essay in a specific anecdote or situation you’ve found yourself in. Maybe there was a moment when you felt gender was somehow an obstacle to your learning. Or, maybe you’ve noticed patterns or made connections between gender and different topics you’ve studied.
While technically optional, writing a reflective, insightful, and motivated response to this prompt can significantly strengthen your application. This is a great opportunity to connect to Barnard’s values, especially given gender is highlighted in Barnard’s mission:
“As a college for women, Barnard embraces its responsibility to address issues of gender in all of their complexity and urgency and to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.”
Barnard supplemental essay #2 – Challenging ideas
The prompt for the second of the optional Barnard supplemental essays is as follows:
Barnard College Optional Essay Prompt #2
Barnard College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mission statement says, “Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has the potential to disrupt and transform entrenched practices and thinking.” In what ways have you challenged ideas, practices, or spaces? What did you learn from these experiences?
Barnard is looking to enroll in a class that is culturally competent and shares the same values and mission. This essay requires you to demonstrate your relationship with cultural diversity. How has it shaped your identity and what have you learned from it? This Barnard College supplemental essay prompt requires the student to be personal, specific, and vulnerable.
Your response can be broken up into two parts. First, you’ll need to detail the specific experiences you’ve had challenging others. Maybe you’ve had discussions in your church group or with your family where you question the status quo. Or, maybe, you’ve created opportunities to hold space to discuss conflicting and challenging ideas. Whatever your experience, make sure to touch on what you learned from it. How did this particular experience help you grow, and what lessons will you take with you into the future?
Barnard essay prompt #3 – One woman
Finally, we have the fifth Barnard College supplemental essays prompt:
Barnard College Optional Essay Prompt #3
Pick one woman — a historical figure, a fictitious character, or a modern individual — who you’d like to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask her?
Prompts in this style are common across college applications. If you could pick anyone, who would you invite to dinner or coffee? Since Barnard is a women’s college, it makes sense that this prompt is interested in knowing which woman you would choose.
This Barnard College supplemental essays prompt really gives you free rein. Use the opportunity to develop yourself beyond your academic accomplishments. This Barnard College supplemental essays prompt presents multiple questions. Be sure to answer all components of the prompt entirely. It is important to remember there is a 250-word count max, so you will have to balance being clear and succinct in your response with addressing all three questions.
Start by brainstorming a list of women you would be interested in writing this essay about. Just as with any of the prompts, you should not pick a woman to write about with the sole purpose of sounding impressive. Remember, there is no right answer. Be sure to write about a woman you are truly curious about and explain your reasoning. The admissions team should be able to feel the inspiration behind your choice.
Are these Barnard essays really optional?
The optional Barnard College supplemental essays are not a technical requirement of the application, so yes – they’re really optional. If you don’t feel like you have something to say that speaks to your character or values – don’t worry. You won’t be penalized for not writing all five essays. However, if you’re truly excited about attending Barnard, you’ll certainly have something valuable to speak on in response to these prompts.
If you’re passionate about attending Barnard, show admissions you’re invested by writing all five essays. The more essays you write, the more the Barnard admissions team gets to know about you. Not only that, but the essays allow you to control the narrative of your application. Taking the opportunity to write the optional Barnard College supplemental essays demonstrates your willingness to go above and beyond!
Choosing which essays to write
There are many reasons to write optional Barnard College supplemental essays, but let’s start with some reasons why you should not. When choosing which optional essay prompts to respond to, you should consider your passions, strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t write optional Barnard College supplemental essays just for the sake of writing. Admissions officers will be able to spot this misguided and uninspired attempt from a mile away. Only craft a response to an optional essay if it is purposeful and passionate.
With that being said, the more essays you write, the better chance you have of letting Barnard get to know the real you. Use the optional Barnard College essays prompts as an opportunity to elaborate on yourself and your interest in Barnard College. These essays are especially useful if you feel like your academic portfolio is not an accurate reflection of who you are as a student and a person.
When choosing which Barnard College essays to write, read the prompts carefully so you can answer the question fully. Barnard College supplemental essays provide you with an opportunity to provide additional information to the admissions committee. However, avoid repeating yourself or recycling information found elsewhere in your application. Writing about different topics demonstrates that you are a well-rounded applicant who will contribute to various aspects of Barnard’s community.
5 Tips for writing outstanding Barnard essays
Tip #1 – Start early
Writing outstanding essays that beat the highly selective Barnard College acceptance rate requires ample time to plan, write, and revise. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the application deadlines and current supplement questions, especially the Why Barnard essay. Most importantly, make sure you have budgeted enough time to write both required and all three optional Barnard supplemental essays.
Tip #2 – Show, Don’t Tell
Use the Barnard supplemental essays as an opportunity to show the admissions team who you are beyond your academic achievements. The best way to do so is by painting a vivid picture and engaging the reader with stories. If you claim to have certain traits, qualities, or values, you should demonstrate these with specific anecdotes and actions. Use this technique to make your application come alive and your essays shine.
Tip #3 – Write authentically
We’re sure you have heard it before, but the most vital aspect of any successful college essay is being yourself. Your Barnard supplemental essays should accurately reflect your experiences, values, and interests. Don’t write what you think the admissions team wants to hear. Being true to yourself has the power to demonstrate your unique perspective and strength of character.
Tip #4 – Be clear and concise
Your Barnard supplemental essays are limited to 250 words. So, you have to make every word count and showcase your ability to communicate effectively. Narrow your thoughts down to your strongest arguments and most valuable experiences and only elaborate on these. This will make it easy for you and the admissions team to follow your reasoning and connections between points!
Tip #5 – Leave time to proofread and revise your essays
Your Barnard essays are evaluated for content as well as writing style and grammatical skills. When you think you have finished your Barnard College essays, you should:
- Proof-read for spelling, grammar, and punctuation
- Edit out unnecessary words or phrases
- Ensure you have responded directly to the prompt and have answered all parts of the question.
Before you submit, it’s a good idea to get input from trusted sources. While you should consider external input, it is vital that you maintain your own writing style and voice. That way the admissions team gets to know the real you.
Be sure to use these tips to help you plan your own Barnard essays! And, feel free to refer to this guide when you begin your Barnard College essays writing process.
Barnard Supplemental Essays: Final Takeaways
If you’re looking for a final takeaway, it’s this: prepare careful and thoughtful responses to all of the Barnard supplement questions. While your grades and test scores are important parts of your application, they aren’t enough to gain admission. Your Barnard essays have the power to round out your application and help you stand out in a competitive application process. Use your supplemental essays to tell the admissions team who you are beyond your academic achievements. Wow them by showing the Barnard admissions team something they won’t see anywhere else in your application.
If you want more advice pertaining to Barnard College, check out this guide on how to get into Barnard College. And, take a look at past Barnard essay examples for inspiration while writing your own. Want to learn more about going to school in Manhattan? Get the inside scoop on what it’s like to attend NYU, Columbia, and Barnard by watching this webinar.
We hope this guide has helped you better understand the Barnard College essays and how to get into Barnard. Whether you’ve just started your college list or you are already working on your application – CollegeAdvisor has tips for you. Happy writing!
This essay guide was written by Bailey Bennett. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.