claremont mckenna supplemental essays

Claremont McKenna Supplemental Essays 2023-24

Curious about how to get into Claremont McKenna? As a liberal arts school, Claremont McKenna cares deeply about how you think, write, and experience the world around you. As such, your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays are a critical part of your application. But, don’t stress quite yet about how to write the Claremont McKenna essays. You’re in the right place!  In this article, we will dive deep into the Claremont McKenna essay prompts, and, most importantly, explain how to write an outstanding CMC supplemental essay.  

This guide will break down each of the Claremont McKenna essay prompts. We will also share more information about the optional video response you can submit as part of your Claremont McKenna application. Without a doubt, by the end of this article, you will be empowered to write amazing Claremont McKenna essays that will wow admissions. So, still interested in how to get into Claremont McKenna? Keep reading for all you need to know about the Claremont McKenna supplemental essays. 

Claremont McKenna Admissions

Claremont McKenna is a liberal arts college located about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, California. Indeed, Claremont McKenna is one of the best colleges in California, according to several sources such as Forbes. As a small, private, residential campus of only 1,400 students, Claremont McKenna offers the intimate, warm community and low student-to-faculty ratio of a small college. However, this small school is also part of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of 7 colleges in California that educate 8,000 students collectively. When attending Claremont McKenna, students can take classes and join clubs at any of these 7 colleges–and 99% of students choose to do so.

By offering such a unique and multifaceted education, Claremont McKenna attracts competitive candidates from around the globe each application season. To make your Claremont McKenna application stand out, you’ll have to understand the school’s offerings and make sure that your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays demonstrate your interest in the school.

Claremont McKenna College Admissions: Quick Facts

  • Claremont McKenna Acceptance Rate: 10%– U.S. News ranks Claremont McKenna #11 among top liberal arts colleges.
  • Claremont McKenna Essay Requirements:
    • 2 required (~250 word) short answers
    • 1 optional (2 minute) video
  • Claremont McKenna Application: Students may submit their Claremont McKenna application through the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Applicants will submit the same Claremont McKenna supplemental essays and other required application materials regardless of the platform. In addition, Claremont McKenna participates in the Questbridge National Match program, geared towards students who have shown outstanding academic ability despite financial challenges.
  • Claremont McKenna Application Deadlines:
    • Early Decision I: November 1
    • Early Decision II: January 10
    • Regular Decision: January 10 
  • Claremont McKenna Essays Tip: The Claremont McKenna supplemental essays are looking to see how well you would fit in the school’s small, liberal arts setting. Research the school well and mention specific examples that link your interests and experiences to the school’s offerings.

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.

Does Claremont McKenna have supplemental essays?

Yes—there are two required Claremont McKenna supplemental essays. Supplemental essays are school-specific essays, meaning that you only submit them to one school. However, many supplemental essays are on similar topics, so you can often recycle ideas between schools. The two Claremont McKenna essay prompts are geared towards understanding how you will fit into the school’s culture. Additionally, admissions wants to see how your goals align with the school’s mission. Later, we will share more about the Claremont McKenna essay prompts and how to approach them.

How many essays does Claremont McKenna require?

claremont mckenna supplemental essays

In total, you must submit three Claremont McKenna essays to fulfill the Claremont McKenna requirements. While above we mentioned that there are two Claremont McKenna supplemental essays, the school also requires you to submit a personal statement. 

A personal statement differs from supplemental essays in that it is not school-specific. You usually submit the same personal statement to each of the colleges on your list that accept it. The prompts for the personal statement will be found on the application platform of your choosing (Common App or Coalition App). 

More about Personal Statements 

A personal statement is, as it sounds, personal. The personal statement is your way of introducing yourself to the admissions committee. Often, successful personal statements showcase key parts of a student’s personality and life experiences. They include writing techniques such as a hook, sensory details, and language that showcases your unique voice, while still being professional and formal. In contrast to your Claremont McKenna supplementals, your personal statement does not have to mention Claremont McKenna. Instead, it is entirely about you.

Wondering how to write a good personal statement? First, you must consider whether you are applying with the Common App or Coalition App. The Common App prompts differ slightly from the Coalition App prompts. However, both allot 650 words to express yourself in your Claremont McKenna application. For additional guidance, check out CollegeAdvisor’s resources on how to start your personal statement and how to approach each of the Common App prompts.

Next, let’s dive into the Claremont McKenna essay prompts.

Claremont McKenna Supplemental Essays

As we shared above, there are two Claremont McKenna supplemental essays. The maximum word count for each is 250 words. Let’s break down each of the Claremont McKenna essay prompts individually.

CMC Supplemental Essay #1: Why This College Essay

claremont mckenna supplemental essays
Claremont McKenna College” by CampusGrotto | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The first of your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays is a classic Why This College essay. 

Claremont McKenna College Supplemental Essay Prompt 1

CMC’s mission is to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions. With this mission in mind, please explain why you want to attend Claremont McKenna College.

As we can see, this CMC supplemental essay prompt begins with the school’s mission. Pay attention to the keywords of the mission: thoughtful, productive, responsible, and leadership. In your response, you’ll want to be clear about how your values and goals align with this mission. For example, maybe you started a club that brings STEM education to schools that don’t have it. In your response, share more about why and how you did this, and then connect it to the mission of Claremont McKenna. Keep in mind that leadership doesn’t need an official title. For example, informal leadership can include being a mentor to your younger siblings or helping peers in class who are struggling. 

Lastly, make sure you reference the future and share your goals. While you do not have to have a detailed five-year plan while applying to college, this CMC supplemental essay is looking for a sense of how you will live out their mission while in college and beyond. Maybe you hope to join a specific club or study with a certain professor to advance a personal or professional goal. Whatever you choose to share, be specific and genuine in your response.

CMC Supplemental Essay #2: Cultural Diversity Essay

claremont mckenna supplemental essays

The second of the two required Claremont McKenna supplemental essays is a cultural diversity essay. Let’s look at how this CMC supplemental essay is worded:

Claremont McKenna College Supplemental Essay Prompt 2

A critical part of fulfilling our mission is living out the commitments of CMC’s Open Academy: Freedom of Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Constructive Dialogue. We want to learn more about your commitment to listening and learning from others with different viewpoints, perspectives, and life experiences from your own.

Describe a time when engaging with someone about a specific topic resulted in you changing your attitude, belief, or behavior, or you changed the belief or behavior of someone else. What was the change that occurred for you, and what facilitated that change? What did you learn from that experience, and how has it informed how you engage with others?

This question is the longer of the two Claremont McKenna essay prompts, but we will break it down to make it easier to digest. First, note that once again, the prompt opens with sharing something specific about Claremont McKenna – the school’s Open Academy. The Open Academy is one of Claremont McKenna’s unique offerings. A nationally recognized initiative, the Open Academy gives students tools and spaces to learn about different experiences and opinions. By sharing this fact in their Claremont McKenna essay prompts, the school is emphasizing that they also want to attract students who are dedicated to this kind of dialogue. 

In the second part of the prompt for this CMC supplemental essay, the school specifically asks you to describe a time when you engaged with someone who thought or acted differently than you. Most importantly, they want to know how this experience changed either you or that person. For example, maybe you corrected a neighbor who was using the wrong pronouns to describe your sibling, and your neighbor engaged in a long dialogue to try to understand your point of view. 

In this example, the most obvious change happened in your neighbor, who gained a deeper understanding of how to respect others’ genders. However, you may also have taken away some lessons from this encounter. Maybe you learned to have more patience for people who are not as well-versed in gender issues. Sharing details about this conversation and the changes that occurred is critical to writing an excellent CMC supplemental essay.

Now that we’ve learned about each of the prompts, let’s check out how to start writing your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays.

How to write the Claremont McKenna supplemental essays

Now that we understand the Claremont McKenna essay prompts, you’re probably eager to start writing your Claremont McKenna essays. But, how should you begin? While each student has a different writing process, voice, and experiences, here are some core tips for making sure you write strong Claremont McKenna supplemental essays:

Tips for Writing Claremont McKenna College Supplemental Essays

1. Research the school

No matter what school you are applying to, it is always important to know why you want to go there. With your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays, it is even more critical. As the Claremont McKenna essay prompts above show, the school is very proud of the unique educational experience it offers students. Educate yourself on these attributes, such as the low student-to-teacher ratio, access to the Claremont Colleges, and the Open Academy. There are many reasons why a student might want to attend Claremont McKenna – be clear about your “why” prior to writing.

2. Brainstorm ideas

Before you jump into writing your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays, take time to brainstorm. Perhaps you make a list of things you like about the school for the Why This College essay. Or maybe you journal about experiences that have changed your belief about something for the Cultural Diversity essay. Some students skip brainstorming to get straight to writing their Claremont McKenna essays. However, brainstorming is an important part of the writing process. Your second, third, or fourth idea could be the best one! 

3. Be specific

As you jump into writing your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays, remember that being specific always makes an essay stronger. Since Claremont McKenna admissions officers read thousands of essays each year, they are prone to seeing the same ideas (cliches or general statements) over and over. Rather than stating that you learned from many different people while playing softball, focus on a story of one conversation that you had with a fellow player. With specificity, your Claremont McKenna essays will stand out in a large pile of essays.

4. Edit, edit, edit

Without a doubt, editing is one of the most critical steps in writing your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays. Sometimes it can take 4-6 drafts to get to solid versions of your Claremont McKenna essays. In the editing process, check to make sure your writing is clear, concise, grammatically correct, and compelling. Read your essays out loud to yourself. Ask a trusted mentor to read it, too. Feedback will help you get an objective view of your essays, as well as catch any spelling or grammatical oversights.

Technically, now that you have these four tips, you can get started writing your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays! But, maybe you are wondering what Claremont McKenna admissions officers are specifically looking for in your essays. Let’s learn what impresses admission when it comes to your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays. 

What is Claremont McKenna looking for in essays?

claremont mckenna supplemental essays

It’s normal to be curious about what exactly admissions officers want to see in your Claremont McKenna essays. While there is no specific topic or type of student that the school is looking for, there are some key attributes of successful essays:

Keys Attributes of Successful Claremont McKenna College Essays

1. Strong writing

First and foremost, a strong CMC supplemental essay is well-written. But, what does that mean? Generally, a well-written essay is easy to read, with arguments that flow clearly into each other. There are no missing details that make the story hard to follow. Additionally, a well-written essay is grammatically correct. As such, using editing software or a trusted editor to double-check your grammar is important. Lastly, well-written Claremont McKenna essays are engaging thanks to the use of literary devices, like imagery or metaphors, that help distinguish your voice.

2. Reflective nature

As a liberal arts college, Claremont McKenna cares about how you think. They want to admit students who are thoughtful and think critically. Even though you only have 250 words per CMC supplemental essay to express your ideas, make sure you show self-reflection and personal growth. The examples you use should represent your best thinking.

3. Shared values

As we mentioned above, Claremont McKenna’s values include intellectual curiosity, open dialogue, responsible citizenship, and critical inquiry. While your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays should be based on your own life experiences, they should also reveal how you live these values in your life. You certainly demonstrate these values in some way–you just need to find the best ways to show them in your essays. 

4. Passion for Claremont McKenna

In each of your Claremont McKenna essays, you must reference specific aspects of the CMC educational experience. Ultimately, every college wants to admit students who really want to attend. Claremont McKenna is no different. By naming what attracts you to the school, you demonstrate your passion for attending.

Once you have finished your Claremont McKenna essays, you also have the option to submit a video response that provides extra information about yourself. Next, we’ll explore this aspect of your application. 

Claremont McKenna Optional Video Response

claremont mckenna supplemental essays

In addition to writing your two Claremont McKenna supplemental essays, you have the option to submit a two-minute video with your Claremont application. While this video is not part of the Claremont McKenna requirements, we do recommend submitting it. In general, any optional part of an application is worth completing. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate additional interest and highlight aspects of who you are that are not present in other parts of your application. Claremont McKenna especially recommends submitting the video response if you are not able to schedule an interview.

There are four video response prompts you can respond to. Choose the prompt that sparks genuine interest and to which you have an authentic response. The CMC Admissions office is looking for thoughtfulness and authenticity in these responses. Here are the four video response prompts you can choose from: 

Claremont McKenna College Optional Video Response Prompts

1. Claremont McKenna College is a special community because it is composed of talented people who individually and collectively contribute to improving the life of the College. How do you hope to contribute to the CMC community?

2. The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum represents the intellectual mantelpiece of the Claremont McKenna College community, bringing students, faculty, and staff closer together through active engagement and discussion on a daily basis. Knowing that diversity of thought and respectful dialogue are vital elements to the Athenaeum’s mission, who is someone you would want to hear speak at the Athenaeum in order to better understand a diverse perspective or experience from that of your own?

3. Developing a personal narrative is key to understand one’s own values and unique voice. Instances of personal adversity are key markers when determining an individual’s character, resoluteness, and sources of inspiration. When was the last time you were moved to great emotion and how did you positively respond from that moment in time?

4. People support each other and their communities in various ways.  How do you support those around you and how has this shaped your unique perspective?

Similar to the Claremont McKenna essay prompts, the video prompts are looking for specific examples of how you value community, diversity, and freedom of expression. Prepare for your video response the same way you did for the essays: brainstorm, draft a script, and edit that script. Make sure you film in a brightly lit location and that your audio is clear and sharp. Most importantly, be yourself!

When is my Claremont McKenna application due?

The key to putting together a strong Claremont McKenna application is to start early. Review all of the Claremont McKenna requirements months before your chosen deadline. And begin writing your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays as soon as the essay prompts for your application year are confirmed on the school’s website.

Here are the Claremont McKenna application deadlines:

Claremont McKenna College App Deadlines

  • Early Decision I: November 1 – Applying Early Decision is binding, meaning that if you are admitted to Claremont McKenna, you must withdraw any other applications. You are obligated to attend unless you are financially unable. The benefit of applying Early Decision is that it can sometimes boost your odds of admission. Also, if you are admitted, you can stop working on other applications.
  • Early Decision II: January 10 This later deadline known as Early Decision II allows students who want to apply later, but are still certain they wish to attend Claremont McKenna, to indicate that interest. Some students who do not get admitted to their EDI school choose to apply to another school EDII.
  • Regular Decision: January 10 – Regular Decision is the way that most students apply to college. Since there are no binding contracts, Regular Decision is a great option for most students. You can evaluate all of your options before making a final decision.

We recommend choosing your Claremont McKenna application deadline the summer before you apply. This gives you plenty of time to stay organized and complete all of your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays before the deadline. 

A Note on Questbridge Deadlines

Students applying to the Questbridge National Match program must submit their application by September 26. If selected as a Finalist, students will then rank which schools are of interest to them. Participating schools review applications. Finally, students will be given a full scholarship to the school that is highest on their list, and, of course,  admits them. 

Check out more about the process as well as FAQs here

Claremont McKenna Supplemental Essays – 5 Takeaways

claremont mckenna supplemental essays

Now that we have explored how to get into Claremont McKenna by writing exemplary Claremont McKenna essays, your work is to apply what you have learned to your college application journey. Remember these five important takeaways:

Claremont McKenna College Supplemental Essays Key Takeaways

1. You have to submit three Claremont McKenna essays: one personal statement and two Claremont McKenna supplemental essays.

Start early so you have plenty of time to brainstorm, draft, and edit your writing.

2. The two Claremont McKenna supplemental essays are a Why This College essay and a Cultural Diversity essay.

Make sure you respond to the prompts with specific examples from your life and details about the school.

3. Spend time editing and revising your Claremont McKenna essays.

As the school values critical thinking and thoughtfulness, these essays should represent your best writing.

4. You have the option to submit a video response.

Take advantage of this option to elaborate on important parts of your personality that are not showcased in your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays or elsewhere in your application.

5. Choose the deadline that works best for you.

Rather than focus on applying early, focus on writing the strongest Claremont McKenna supplemental essays possible. Choose a realistic deadline for you, that allows you to put your best work forward. 

While you might be overwhelmed by writing the Claremont McKenna essays, remember that there is an abundance of resources available to help you. Reach out to friends and family for support along the way. Additionally, you may benefit from professional guidance.  Contact CollegeAdvisor to get one-on-one counseling from experienced admissions experts. With some effort and a little help, you’re bound to get into the school of your dreams.

claremont mckenna supplemental essays

This essay guide was written by senior advisor, Courtney Ng. 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 can support you in the college application process.