Emory University Supplemental Essays Guide

Not sure how to approach the Emory essay prompts? CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Emory supplemental essays will show you exactly how to write engaging Emory supplemental essays and maximize your chances of admission. If you need help answering the Emory University essay prompts, create your free account or schedule a no-cost advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Emory Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • Emory has an acceptance rate of 19.0%—U.S. News ranks Emory as a highly selective school.
  • In addition to your personal statement, there are two Emory supplemental essays you will need to complete. The first of the Emory essay prompts asks about your academic interests. The second asks you to choose from five additional Emory essay prompts so the admissions team can get to know you better.

Does Emory Require Supplemental Essays?

Yes. In addition to your Common App or Coalition App personal statement, you will also need to answer two shorter Emory essay prompts. Along with your personal statement, extracurriculars, and academic history, your Emory supplemental essays play a key role in sharing who you are with the admissions team. Be sure to take your time with each Emory University essay and consider how the topics you choose enhance your application narrative.

Need some help writing your Common App essay? Get great tips from our Common App essay guide.

What are the Emory Supplemental Essays?

There are two school-specific Emory supplemental essays in the 2021-2022 application. Both Emory University essay prompts are required, meaning you must complete both Emory University essay prompts to submit your application. While the first of the Emory University essay prompts is the same for all applicants, the second asks you to choose your own prompt.

To complete your Emory supplemental essays, you will need to take some time to decide which Emory essay prompt will best showcase who you are, what matters to you, and why you’d be a good fit for Emory.

How do I Write the Emory Supplemental Essays?

Let’s break down the Emory University essay prompts!

The Emory supplemental essays allow you to use your own voice to show your readers who you are as a person. Neither of the Emory essay prompts explicitly asks, “Why Emory?”; however, each of your responses should answer this question. When they read your Emory supplemental essays, the admissions team should be able to imagine you on their campus.

Now, as you begin considering the Emory essay prompts think about the picture you want to paint for your readers. What is important to you? Why is Emory the best place for you to continue pursuing your passions? Don’t worry if you don’t feel you’ve found your “passion” quite yet. Remember, college is all about exploring and cultivating your interests. Most importantly, your Emory supplemental essays should reveal your potential to make an impact on Emory’s campus, even if you don’t have a clear set of goals.

Make some lists

If you’re having trouble coming up with something to write about for your Emory application essay, try making two bulleted lists: “What Do I Think About” and “Characteristics of Me.” This is only a brainstorm, so include everything that comes to mind. What do you think about your stamp collection? Your dance class routines? Do you have a favorite subject in school? Are there certain aspects of your identity you have a strong connection to?

Then, turn to your own characteristics. Are you independent? Do you like doing research? Do you love collaboration? Once you have these lists side by side, look for ideas that connect with one another. Use this brainstorm as a way to consider not only what you will write about but how it connects to you.

We have provided the 2021-2022 Emory University essay prompts below. You’ll find a breakdown of how to approach each Emory University essay in addition to your personal statement. We’ll also discuss tips for writing Emory supplemental essays that will help you stand out in admissions.

Emory Supplemental Essays – Question 1 (Required)

What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college? (200 words or less).

The first Emory application essay is about your academic interests. When writing this Emory essay, remember to stay in the realm of academics. Even if you are passionate about activities outside of the classroom—like athletics or the arts—you’ll want to spend this essay describing your academic engagements. In general, ground your essay in a few academic disciplines and build from there. For example, if you’re interested in Astronomy, you might focus your Emory application essay on specific classes, student groups, or research opportunities related to this topic.

Your first step in writing your Emory University essay is to pick your academic area(s) of interest. Start by looking at Emory’s list of majors, minors, and programs. For example, if you are passionate about painting, look at the Art History Department’s website to see what topics and classes that Emory offers excite you. If you are interested in writing, explore Emory’s pages on English, English and creative writing, English and history, and playwriting to see which program best fits your interests.

Remember, you only have 200 words in this Emory essay. Consequently, you’ll want to be clear and concise in your response. Even if you brainstorm a list and find ten areas of study that excite you, pick two or three areas to focus on in your Emory application essay. This will let you tell a story in your Emory University essay rather than simply listing your interests. Once you have picked your topic(s), think about why these academic areas interest you, what you hope to learn about them, and why Emory is the right place for you to do so.

Emory Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does my response highlight an area of study Emory offers classes in?
  • Do I reflect my genuine interests in my Emory essay?
  • Does my response answer the questions of why am I interested, what do I hope to learn, and why is Emory the place to do it?

Emory Supplemental Essays – Question 2 (Required)

Answer one of the following questions (in 150 words or less):

1. Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.

2. When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?

3. If you could witness a historic event (past, present, or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why?

4. Share about a time when you were awestruck.

5. Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?

On closer inspection, the second Emory application essay is about getting to know you. Unlike the first Emory supplemental essay, this Emory essay prompt allows you to select your own question. Take advantage of this opportunity—spend time with each of the Emory essay prompts and select the one that most engages you. When considering topics, remember to review your other essays and think about how you can share something new!


However, if the thought of picking just one of these Emory essay prompts seems daunting, try a timed freewrite, or brainstorming session. To begin, write out five lists: “cultural awareness,” “questioned truth,” “historic event,” “awestruck,” and “art made for you.” Then, take five minutes with each list and write out anything that comes to mind. Feel free to just write a few words or go more in-depth with your bullets and add details. In less than thirty minutes, you should have a substantial list of potential Emory essays.

As you narrow down your ideas to respond to the Emory University essay prompts, consider how your topic can share something important about you as a person. In general, the best Emory essays will be the most authentic. For example, if you decide to write your Emory essay for Prompt #5 about a book or character, be sure to focus on the words “made for you.” Even if you really like a character from your favorite TV show, think about what that character really means to you.

Affirm and/or change

If you’re having trouble finding a deeper, personal connection to your Emory University essay topic, ask yourself this question: does this thing or experience affirm or change who I am or how I see the world? Following the example of Prompt #5, does this character affirm something about my identity? Did they change my perception of myself? Do we have a shared experience? Did they show me a new way of thinking?

No matter what prompt you select for your second Emory University essay, keep the 150-word limit in mind. If you are having trouble staying under the world limit, consider how to make your sentences more concise. For example, instead of repeating the prompt in your response and starting with “____ is a character that was made for me,” try diving straight into the why in your topic sentence and elaborating from there.

Emory Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does my response reflect something important to me?
  • Do I address the specific question asked in the selected prompt?
  • Does my response tell a story of my change and growth?
  • Do I avoid repeating information found elsewhere in my application?

How Important are Emory’s Supplemental Essays?

The Emory supplemental essays are extremely important to your application. Overall, the university will consider your Emory supplemental essays alongside your transcript, personal statement, and extracurricular activities before they turn to your standardized test scores. While it’s a good idea to remember that the essays are just one part of your application, you’ll want to make them as strong as possible to build the most compelling candidate profile. In fact, if you are applying with lower test scores, it is especially important you take your time with each Emory application essay and make sure your final draft is personal and polished.

Emory Essay Quick Tips:

  • Write in your own voice! Don’t focus on what you think Emory wants to hear. Instead, focus on being honest and truthful to your experiences.
  • Think about what makes you interested in the world, then choose the Emory University essay prompts that helps you best tell your story.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! If you can, ask a guardian, a counselor, or another mentor to read over your Emory supplemental essays for spelling, grammar, and clarity.

Is there an Emory Personal Statement?

No, there is no dedicated Emory personal statement. However, students who apply through the Common App or Coalition App will have to complete a Common App or Coalition App essay. This is the longest and most substantial essay Emory application essay.

When considering potential students, Emory’s admissions team looks for high achievers that want to change the world. As you begin brainstorming your Emory supplemental essays and personal statement, think about what kind of story you can tell that will show admissions what you are curious about and how that drives you to action.

Additional Tips for Writing Emory Supplemental Essays and Personal Statements:

To help prospective students, Emory’s Admissions Committee reviews Personal Statements written by current Emory students and highlights why they worked.

Below, you’ll find some tips to help you craft your personal statement. Keep in mind that every Personal Statement and Emory University essay will be different, so don’t panic if these tips don’t apply to your chosen topics. However, as you examine the Emory essay prompts, keep this advice in mind.

Let’s dive in!

Demonstrate your unshakeable curiosity

One trait that Admissions will look for in every Emory essay is curiosity. Your Emory application essay should illustrate what drives your desire to learn more about the world around you. Think about the extracurriculars you love or the classes that most interest you: Why are you drawn to them? How do these different elements of your application relate to one another? Are there similarities that show a common pattern in your thinking, or do you use a variety of approaches to different aspects of your life?

To start, make a list of the classes, sports, clubs, and activities included elsewhere in your application. Then, circle the ones where you feel most successful, motivated, and/or excited. Remember, this Emory University essay is your chance to show admissions why these things matter to you. If the interest you choose does not appear elsewhere in your application—like your love of fantasy novels or your interest in astronomy—that’s okay, too! If you have a strong connection to it, it will make a great topic for your Emory essay.

In their feedback for one of the example Emory application essays, the admissions team highlights how the writer communicated their desire to make a positive change in the world. As you craft your Emory University essay, recall Emory’s mission: to use knowledge to serve humanity. Once you have decided on a topic for your Emory University essay, think about why you are curious about it and how that curiosity fits into the bigger picture.

When approaching your prompts, consider telling your story in a progression: what are you curious about, how are you influenced by your curiosity, and how does your willingness to pursue this curiosity impact the world?

Describe a time your perspective shifted

Many successful Emory application essays highlight an important element of their university’s culture: community. As you review example Emory supplemental essays, notice how writers address the relationship between their own interiority and the communities they occupy. Successful Emory University essays offer the admissions team a glimpse of how a student’s community has influenced their beliefs; these essays then allow readers to imagine what this student would bring to Emory’s community.

Make a list of the communities and people that are important to you. What role do you play in these communities? How have these communities impacted you? How have you, in turn, impacted these communities?

Emory’s essays that focus on community, however, do present some challenges. As you answer the Emory University essay prompts, while you can talk about other people and experiences, make sure to center the bulk of your essay around you. Once you’ve completed a draft, write out a summary of how each paragraph connects to you. Think to yourself, how does this section of my essay reflect my curiosity? Something I’ve learned? A perspective I will bring with me into the future? Remember, if it doesn’t show Emory something about who you are, you may not need it in your essay.

If you’d like to see more examples of exceptional Emory personal statements and why they work, check out Emory’s Inside Admissions blog.

Emory Supplemental Essays: Final Thoughts

As you work on your Emory Supplemental Essays, remember that they are part of a holistic application. Admissions will use your Emory essays and other materials to create a full picture of who you are and why you’d be an asset to Emory. You should view each Emory University essay, including your Common App Personal Statement, as complementary pieces that work together to tell the story of you. As you think about why Emory is the right school for you, allow yourself time to sit with the Emory University essay prompts, think about what is most important to you, and let your personality shine through!

If answering these Emory essay prompts seems like a challenge, remember that starting is the hardest part. The best thing you can do for yourself is to start early. This gives you the benefit of time to ensure your Emory supplemental essays are focused and clear. Give yourself enough time to write, rewrite, edit, and polish each of your responses to the Emory essay prompts.

This 2021-2022 essay guide on Emory University was written by Stefanie Tedards, Northwestern ‘17. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on Emory, click here. Want help crafting your Emory supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a no-cost advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.