Princeton Supplemental Essays 2023-24
If you’re wondering how to get into Princeton, the Princeton supplemental essays play a major role in the admissions process. In this Princeton essay guide, we’ll go over each of the Princeton supplemental essay prompts and other Princeton requirements. We’ll also discuss where to find Princeton essay examples. However, before we dive into the Princeton essays, let’s learn a bit more about Princeton and go over some important admissions facts.
Princeton University is located in Princeton, New Jersey and is home to just over 5,000 undergrads. Currently the top-ranked university in the country, Princeton combines all of the best aspects of a well-rounded liberal arts college and a high powered research institution. It is one of the eight Ivy League schools and, as such, has an equally competitive application process. Below, we’ve provided some quick facts about the Princeton supplemental essays, including the Princeton acceptance rate, deadlines, and requirements. So, keep reading our Princeton essay guide for more details and tips!
Princeton Supplemental Essays: Quick Facts
Princeton Essay Guide Facts
- Princeton acceptance rate: 4%—U.S. News ranks Princeton as a highly competitive school.
- Princeton accepts applications via:
- Common Application
- Coalition Application
- QuestBridge Application
- Princeton application deadlines:
- Requirements for the Princeton supplemental essays:
- 1 full-page (~500 word) essay
- 2 half-page (~250 word) essays
- 3 short answer (~50 words) essays
- Princeton application note: In addition to submitting their Princeton supplemental essays, students are required to submit a personal statement essay and a graded written paper.
- #1 Princeton Essay Tip: Some of the Princeton supplemental essay prompts are complex and multifaceted. Taking the time to fully understand the prompt will help you connect and fully flesh out your ideas, ensuring you write the best Princeton supplemental essays possible.
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.
How many supplemental essays do you need for Princeton?
Princeton admissions requires students to submit six Princeton supplemental essays. While that may seem like a lot, the Princeton supplemental essays are actually more manageable than you think. In this Princeton essay guide, we’ll walk you through each of the Princeton essay prompts.
The Princeton essays vary in length, with the longest at 500 words and the shortest only 50. Additionally, the Princeton essay prompts cover a variety of topics, including your major interest, personal impact, and civic engagement. This Princeton essay guide will provide all six Princeton supplemental essay prompts. We’ll also discuss strategies for each Princeton essay.
In addition to the Princeton supplemental essays, you’ll submit your personal statement and a graded written paper. We’ll review each of these requirements later in this guide.
What are the Princeton essay prompts?
The Princeton essay prompts are also referred to as First-Year Essay Questions. The six Princeton supplemental essays fall into three categories:
- Your voice
- More about you
In the next section, we’ll review the prompts for each of the Princeton supplemental essays. We’ll also go over each of the Princeton supplemental essay prompts in detail and give you tips for writing your own Princeton essays.
Depending on your chosen degree, you will respond to one of the below degree-specific prompts.
A.B. Degree Applicants/Undecided
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.)
B.S.E. Degree Applicants
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.)
All applicants must answer the following Princeton supplemental essay prompts about personal impact and civic engagement.
Supplemental Essay Prompts
1. Princeton values community and encourages students, faculty, staff and leadership to engage in respectful conversations that can expand their perspectives and challenge their ideas and beliefs. As a prospective member of this community, reflect on how your lived experiences will impact the conversations you will have in the classroom, the dining hall or other campus spaces. What lessons have you learned in life thus far? What will your classmates learn from you? In short, how has your lived experience shaped you? (Please respond in 500 words or fewer.)
2. Princeton has a longstanding commitment to understanding our responsibility to society through service and civic engagement. How does your own story intersect with these ideals? (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.)
More About You
These are the short answer Princeton essay prompts. All applicants are required to answer the following prompts.
Short Answer Prompts
1. What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
2. What brings you joy?
3. What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
Now, let’s unpack how to approach each Princeton essay. First, we’ll take a closer look at the degree-specific Princeton supplemental essay.
Princeton Supplemental Essays – For A.B. Degree/Undecided Applicants
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in 250 words or fewer)
Students who apply to Princeton under either an A.B. Degree or Undecided program will respond to the above prompt.
But before we dig into the rest of our Princeton essay guide, let’s discuss the difference between an A.B. and B.S.E. degree!
A.B. Degree Program
Princeton offers two types of degrees: A.B. and B.S.E. On your Princeton application, you’ll indicate which type of degree you’d like to pursue. The majority of Princeton students complete an A.B. degree in their chosen discipline. A.B. stands for Bachelor of Arts, so it’s similar to a B.A. you might receive at another university.
Princeton offers 30+ areas of study, including fields in the humanities, social sciences, languages, and natural sciences. On your application, you’ll also indicate your primary academic area of interest.
When responding to this Princeton supplemental essay prompt, you’ll want to include Princeton-specific details. For example, let’s say you want to write your Princeton supplemental essay about economics. You might start by discussing what about economics most interests you. Then, you can mention specific courses you’re excited to take or certain faculty you’re excited to learn from. Or, perhaps you’re interested in research and want to highlight one of the economics department’s many research centers, like the Princeton Program in Public Finance.
Princeton Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – For B.S.E Applicants
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. (Please respond in 250 words or fewer)
What is a B.S.E. degree?
Students interested in pursuing a degree in engineering will earn a slightly different degree. B.S.E. stands for Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Specific areas of study include:
- Chemical and Biological Engineering
- Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Computer Science
- Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
- Operations Research and Financial Engineering
While the requirements are slightly different, A.B. and B.S.E. degrees are quite similar—and so are their Princeton essay prompts! In this Princeton supplemental essay, you might mention specific opportunities within your chosen concentration, like these mechanical and aerospace engineering research areas. You can even discuss engineering-focused student organizations you want to join, like Princeton Racing Electric or Engineers Without Borders.
One slight difference between the A.B. and B.S.E. prompts is that this one asks you to include past experiences related to engineering. So, if you conducted an engineering-related research project for your school’s science fair or spent a summer at an engineering camp, highlight those experiences here.
Next, we’ll discuss the Your Voice Princeton supplemental essays. First, we’ll look at the personal impact Princeton essay. Then, we’ll dive into the civic engagement Princeton essay.
Princeton Essay: Personal Impact
Princeton values community and encourages students, faculty, staff and leadership to engage in respectful conversations that can expand their perspectives and challenge their ideas and beliefs. As a prospective member of this community, reflect on how your lived experiences will impact the conversations you will have in the classroom, the dining hall or other campus spaces. What lessons have you learned in life thus far? What will your classmates learn from you? In short, how has your lived experience shaped you? (500 words or fewer)
This is the longest and also the most complex of the Princeton supplemental essays. The simplest way to answer a multi-question prompt like this is to think of it as three connecting parts.
First, think about your life experiences. What aspects of your life have had the biggest impact on you? Is it something to do with your personal identity? Perhaps your socioeconomic status or religious background? Or maybe it has to do with your role in your family or the community you grew up in?
Then, consider how this life experience has shaped you. What lessons have you learned? Moreover, how did these circumstances or environments help you grow mentally, emotionally, or spiritually? What values do you hold thanks to these life experiences?
Finally, consider how you’d bring these lessons or personal qualities to Princeton’s campus. How will they impact your discussions in class and the way you interact with your peers?
Princeton Essay Prompt: Civic Engagement Essay
Princeton has a longstanding commitment to understanding our responsibility to society through service and civic engagement. How does your own story intersect with these ideals? (250 words or fewer)
This Princeton supplemental essay prompt is fairly straightforward. You’ll want to touch on experiences where you’ve given your time for the betterment of others. This includes experiences like volunteer work, voting, or community service. Essentially, you’ll want to show how you’ve taken action to help address issues that affect the greater public and community.
Like in your other Princeton supplemental essays, you’ll want to tell a story, not just list your accomplishments. Let’s say you volunteered at a local community garden. How did you get involved? Why is the work you did important to you? Finally, how does the work you did benefit the community (socially, environmentally, etc.)?
The Your Voice Princeton supplemental essays are two of the most important essays of your Princeton application because they touch on your character. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to write these, then save some extra brainpower for the short response essays!
Princeton Short Response Essays
Lastly, we have the shortest Princeton essays of our Princeton essay guide. Although we’ve noted each of the short response questions as their own Princeton essay, remember they’re not full-length essays. Your responses to each of the short answer Princeton essay prompts must be 50 words or fewer, so they’ll only be a few sentences long.
In addition to being the shortest of the Princeton supplemental essays, the short response Princeton essays are also the most fun! These questions are all about being yourself and capturing who you are outside of your academic interests.
What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
In this Princeton supplemental essay, you’ll want to be sure you’re discussing a new skill, not something you already do. You could mention you want to learn how to play ultimate frisbee or learn the science of beekeeping (things you can get involved in through Princeton student organizations).
What brings you joy?
This Princeton supplemental essay can be about anything. Whether it be cooking new recipes, listening to music, reading a good book, or spending time with your family. Maybe it’s even visiting a historical battlefield or doing parkour! Here’s a tip for writing this Princeton supplemental essay: if you smile while writing about it, you’ve likely landed on the right topic.
What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
For music lovers, this could either be the easiest or hardest Princeton essay question to answer. Just like the other short answer Princeton supplemental essays, there are no wrong answers. Choose a song you connect to and let the admissions team know why it resonates with you.
Now that we’ve gone over the prompts for the Princeton supplemental essays, let’s talk about actually writing them. Up next, we’ll go over some tips for writing a Princeton supplemental essay.
How do I write my Princeton Supplemental Essay?
In the next section of our Princeton essay guide, we’ll discuss how to write a Princeton supplemental essay. Let’s dig in.
Writing Princeton supplemental essays is just like writing other college essays. Compelling Princeton supplemental essays require students to be thoughtful and honest, crafting a story with a critical eye and their own personal flair.
Before you start drafting your Princeton supplemental essays, try to have a brainstorming session for all of the Princeton essay prompts. By laying out all of your ideas, you can imagine the narrative the admissions team will glean from reading all of your essays together rather than focusing on each individual Princeton essay. Each of your Princeton supplemental essays should capture something unique about you rather than repeat information found elsewhere in your application.
Remember, the first draft of your Princeton supplemental essays isn’t going to be perfect—nor should it be! Use your first draft to get your ideas out, then think about how you can organize them. Especially in your longer Princeton supplemental essays, you’ll want to start with a hook, build to a point, and by the end answer the question of “why this matters.”
More Princeton Requirements
If you’re making a plan for how to get into Princeton, be sure you’ve covered all of the Princeton requirements. Besides competing your Princeton essays, there are a few other things to include on your Princeton checklist:
- Your completed application (this includes your personal statement essay, the Princeton supplemental essays, a graded written paper, and your application fee or waiver)
- Official transcript and school report (sent by your school counselor or other school official)
- 2 teacher recommendations (an additional counselor recommendation is requested, but not required)
- Midyear school report
Students also have the option to submit standardized test scores, include an arts supplement, and complete an interview as part of the application process. Keep reading our Princeton essay guide to learn more about some of the optional and required elements of a Princeton application.
Standardized Test Scores
Submitting SAT and ACT scores is optional for all applicants. Princeton has extended their test-optional policy for the 2023, 2024, and 2025 fall admissions cycles. If you are a strong test taker, submitting high SAT or ACT scores for consideration can help your application stand out. However, your application and chances of admission will not be negatively impacted if you choose not to submit them. If you’re not sure whether to include your test scores or are still deciding whether to take the SAT/ACT, read our article on Standardized Tests in a Test-Optional Environment.
Completing an alumni interview is optional for all applicants. Students can choose to opt in or out of the interview when they submit their Princeton supplemental essays. Not every student is guaranteed to receive an interview, and they will be conducted in person or virtually depending on availability. Additionlly, as interviews are optional, your application will not be at a disadvantage if you choose to opt out or if you do not have the opportunity to conduct an interview.
Including an arts supplement is optional for all applicants. Students who have devoted significant time and excelled in certain artistic areas can submit an arts supplement. Areas of interest include:
- Creative Writing
- Theater/Music Theater
- Visual Arts
If you choose to include an arts supplement, you will indicate your intention to submit along with your Princeton supplemental essays. You can then submit your materials, along with a résumé if needed, to your Princeton Applicant Status Portal.
Graded Written Paper
Submitting a graded written paper is required for all applicants. Princeton admissions will use this piece of writing to understand your ability to express your thoughts and ideas in an academic setting. This contributes to their holistic assessment of your application. The graded written paper also helps the admissions team determine if you will thrive in Princeton’s challenging courses and what kind of contributions you’ll make in the classroom.
If you’re still not sure what makes a good written paper, don’t worry! The next section of our Princeton essay guide has Princeton’s guidelines as well as tips for choosing the right written paper.
Tips for Choosing a Graded Written Paper
As one of the Princeton requirements, deciding which graded written paper to submit is an important choice. Princeton admissions provides the following guidelines for submitting a graded written paper.
Papers appropriate for submission should:
- Be expository writing (paper, essay, research paper, essay exam), not creative writing
- Be something you wrote for an academic course during your last three years of high school (preferably for an English, social studies, or history course)
- Be graded (you’ll want to include the grade you received as well as the grading rubric and any teacher comments if provided)
Your graded paper does not have to be exceptionally long; 1-2 pages is sufficient. When considering which of your written papers to select, remember it also does not have to be an A+ paper. If you believe your paper shows a moment of growth or understanding, it can have a lower grade. Admissions is more interested in the quality of your writing and how you express your ideas than the grade it received.
Does Princeton care about essays?
Yes, as one of the best colleges in the country, Princeton cares about your essays. In this section of our Princeton essay guide, we’ll take a closer look at the role your Princeton essays play in the Princeton admissions process.
The Princeton supplemental essays allow the admissions team to see your achievements in context. They want to understand how you’ve taken advantage of the opportunities available to you and how you’ve grown despite any obstacles you’ve faced.
Along with your graded written paper, each Princeton essay allows you to demonstrate your writing abilities (a skill you’ll need to succeed in many of your college courses). Beyond that, they let you share a more complete picture of who you are and what you care about. Your Princeton essays allow you to craft your personal narrative and will help add depth and resonance to your application.
If your grades and graded written paper show your commitment to learning, your Princeton supplemental essays show your commitment to your family, your community, and your personal interests and development. And, unlike your grades or test scores or list of extracurricular achievements, your Princeton essays let you tell your story in your own voice.
Now, we’ve almost reached the end of our Princeton essay guide. Keep reading for a few more tips and resources to help you write your Princeton supplemental essays!
5 Tips on How to Write the Princeton Supplemental Essays
We’ve covered a lot of details in our Princeton essay guide. Specifically, we’ve gone over the Princeton acceptance rate, application deadlines and requirements, and the Princeton supplemental essay prompts.
Before we close out our Princeton essay guide, we want to leave you with five tips to help you tackle the Princeton supplemental essays:
1. Start brainstorming early
A successful Princeton supplemental essay starts with a compelling topic. Not sure what to write about? Check out our guide on 8 common college essay topics.
2. Details, details, details
Specificity gives your writing texture and will help your Princeton supplemental essays stand out from the crowd. If you’re worried your experiences aren’t unique, specific and personal details will add depth and authenticity.
3. Use your own voice
Don’t worry about writing an essay you think admissions wants to read. Your Princeton supplemental essays are your opportunity to let admissions learn who you are, not who you think they want you to be.
4. Address all aspects of the prompt
The Princeton supplemental essay prompts are intentionally designed for the admissions process. So, make sure your responses answer the question at hand.
5. Don’t forget to proofread!
Editing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation will make your Princeton supplemental essays polished and easy to read. That means admissions can focus on your story.
For more tips on writing the Princeton supplemental essays, check out our guide on how to write better essays. If you’re looking for writing inspiration and a student’s take on the application process, check out a Princeton graduate’s Princeton Application Story. In it, she details how she approached the Princeton essays as well as handling being deferred EA before finally being accepted.
More Princeton Resources from CollegeAdvisor
Still looking for more guidance on how to get into Princeton? CollegeAdvisor has countless resources to help you conquer the Princeton application. Check our Princeton Essay Guide from 2022-2023 and our Princeton Essay Guide from 2020-2021 to get more ideas about how to write your essays. We also have Princeton essay examples and Ivy League Essay Examples to help you learn what a strong Princeton essay looks like. These include extracurricular activities essays as well as Princeton essays.
You can also look to resources like our guide to writing an extracurricular activities essay for more Princeton essay examples. While the current Princeton supplemental essay prompts don’t include an extracurricular activities essay, you’ll encounter similar prompts throughout the admissions process. If you feel confident about approaching the Princeton supplemental essays but want more guidance on writing your personal statement, see these 10 Exceptional Common App Essay Examples.
Finally, if you want personalized support in the admissions process, click here to schedule a free meeting with our team and learn how one-on-one advising can help your applications stand out.
We hope you’ve learned a lot reading our Princeton essay guide and feel ready to take on the Princeton supplemental essays—good luck!
This essay guide was written by Stefanie Tedards. 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.