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Not sure how to write an Indiana University supplemental essay? CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Indiana University application essay will show you exactly how to write an engaging Indiana University supplemental essay and maximize your chances of admission. If you need help crafting your IU application essay, create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Indiana University Application Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • U.S. News considers Indiana University a more selective university.
  • The IU acceptance rate is 80.4%.
  • Indiana University is ranked #68 in the U.S. News list of National Universities.

Does Indiana University Require Essays?

Yes. In addition to the Personal Statement that you’ll write for the Common App or Coalition App, you’ll also complete one Indiana University supplement essay. Since there’s only one IU essay prompt, you should do everything you can to make sure your essay stands out. 

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

What is Indiana University’s Supplemental Essay?

There is only one school-specific IU essay prompt, which is required for all applicants. There are no additional IU supplemental essays for first-year applicants. Your Indiana University essay should be between 200 and 400 words. 

Indiana University application essays can cover a breadth of topics. Above all, the Indiana University application essay aims to help the admissions team get to know you. The IU essay prompt gives you the freedom to write about the topics that best illustrate who you are and how you will use an education from IU. Take advantage of the Indiana University application essay to maximize your admissions odds. 

How do I Write Indiana University’s Supplemental Essay: Question 1

Describe your academic and career plans and any special interest (for example, undergraduate research, academic interests, leadership opportunities, etc.) that you are eager to pursue as an undergraduate at Indiana University. Also, if you encountered any unusual circumstances, challenges, or obstacles in pursuit of your education, share those experiences and how you overcame them. This essay may be used in scholarship consideration. (400 word maximum)

This IU application essay is a combination of the classic “why college?” and “why major?” prompts. In 400 words, your Indiana University essay should clearly articulate your reasons for applying to Indiana University. It should also show your vision for your time as a Hoosier. 

The IU essay prompt also lets you discuss challenges that have impacted your education. Often, you can integrate these challenges into the narrative of your Indiana University essay since you overcame them in pursuit of your goals. Your IU application essay should focus on connecting your experiences to your future at Indiana University. 

When brainstorming for this IU essay prompt, ask yourself what you want to be when you grow up. Write down your dreams, goals, career interests, academic pursuits, and hobbies. When reading your IU supplemental essay, the admissions team should learn what is important to you and how you would spend your time on their campus.

An effective Why IU supplemental essay will think beyond the IU acceptance rate and Indiana University ranking. When answering this IU essay prompt, don’t just think about IU as a means to an end. Instead, think of this Indiana University application essay as a “why fit” essay. Your college experience is a two-way street; you will both contribute to and benefit from the IU community.

Tell a story

In your Indiana University application essay, try to tell a story. Your college essay shouldn’t read like a five-paragraph essay. To draw your reader in, try opening your IU supplemental essay with an anecdote. How can you immediately put the reader in your shoes? Establish an element of mystery? Dramatize your opening? Select a story that shows growth, curiosity, determination, or another positive trait that you’ll highlight in your Indiana University essay. 

In your IU application essay, make sure you include personal details. Whenever you make a claim about yourself in your Indiana University essay, provide examples to support it—show, don’t tell. If you write that you have an entrepreneurial spirit, back it up with a story from your life. If you include that you have a passion for mentoring others, provide a story from a time you mentored someone. IU does not expect that you will be involved in the same activities in college that you were in high school; still, your IU application essay should show the reader your character and skills. 

Be specific

As well as being personal, your Indiana University application essay should be specific. There are many great options for college, and you could succeed at many different schools. So, why do you want to attend IU? In your IU supplemental essay, strive to answer this question: How will the opportunities at IU make your goals a reality? There are countless majors and minors to choose from at Indiana University.  So, what will your educational path look like?

Do your research on reasons to attend IU. What specific classes, research opportunities, professors, clubs, and organizations will you take advantage of? When answering the IU essay prompt, clearly state how you would make the most of the specific opportunities you discuss. Don’t just name-drop professors. 

Writing a personal and specific Indiana University essay will help you stand out amidst thousands of other Indiana University application essays. Don’t write things in your Indiana University application essay that you could write about any other college. Conversely, avoid writing about topics that many students could also discuss in their Indiana University essays. 

Show don’t tell

Throughout your Indiana University essay, show instead of telling. This will help you convey the most interesting and effective story. When discussing a program that sparked your interest in your major when answering the IU essay prompt, paint the picture and help the reader understand your daily work. If you write about an extracurricular activity in your IU application essay, detail how it felt to accomplish something in that activity. Use vivid descriptions instead of just stating the facts.

When answering the IU essay prompt, make sure to clarify the stakes of your story. As you respond to the IU essay prompt, clarify why your interests matter. Why should the reader admit you? In your IU application essay, show the reader why accepting you would make IU a better place. Use your Indiana University application essay to highlight your potential!

Throughout your Indiana University application essay, use self-reflection to tell an authentic story. Discuss what matters to you and why. What values do you prioritize? Your IU supplement essay should emphasize your defining traits. 

In your Indiana University application essay, you should also avoid cliches. Don’t just name a program or extracurricular because it sounds impressive; authenticity will help your application the most. Also, avoid general statements about the school in your Indiana University essay as well as simple emotional appeals. Don’t just compliment the school—instead, discuss what you will bring to IU in your IU supplemental essay. 

Remember to discuss both your skills and IU’s offerings in your Indiana University application essay. College is a two-way street and “fit” is extremely important. So, use your IU supplemental essay to show how you would fit into the IU community.  

Indiana University Application Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Is your Indiana University supplemental essay both specific and personal?
  • When discussing challenges, do you explain how you overcame them?
  • Do you tell a cohesive and interesting story in your Indiana University essay?
  • Did you proofread your IU application essay for grammar and clarity?

Additional Tips for Writing the Indiana University Application Essay

Be sure to leave yourself time to edit and revise your IU application essay! Indiana University admissions has two deadlines: Early Action on November 1, 2021, and Regular Decision on February 1, 2022. 

Before submitting your application, think about how every aspect of it will be perceived by the IU admissions team. Do you tell them as much as you can about who you are? Make sure that your IU supplemental essay paints a clear picture of your goals, motivations, and future plans. Your IU application essay should be consistent with the rest of your application; it should also add details to your profile that the reader doesn’t glean from the rest of your application. 

What is the Acceptance Rate for IU?

The IU acceptance rate is approximately 80%. However, the IU acceptance rate for the Kelley School of Business as a freshman is around 40%. The median GPA for applicants accepted to IU for the fall 2021 class was 3.91, while the median SAT and ACT scores were 1300 and 29, respectively. Read the full list of admissions requirements here

Don’t focus too much on the IU acceptance rate. Instead, spend your energy making your Indiana University application essay the best it can be. Since so many factors impact the IU acceptance rate, focus on the ones within your control. 

Want more tips on how to use the IU acceptance rate (and any other school’s rate) to build your school list? Check out our expert’s guides on acceptance rates and rankings

Indiana University Application Essay – Final Thoughts

In your IU essay, be unique and original but also genuine and honest. Instead of trying to predict what the admissions team wants to hear, focus on telling your personal story. Do your research on your future major so you can connect yourself with opportunities at IU. Be clear, concise, and specific in your responses to the Indiana University essay prompt; you only get one chance! There is no cookie-cutter IU student, so highlight what makes you stand out. Good luck!


This guide was written by Caroline Marapese, Notre Dame ’22. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on Indiana University, click here. Want help crafting your IU University supplemental essay? Create your account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.