purdue supplemental essay

Purdue Supplemental Essay Guide: 2022-2023

Purdue Supplemental Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • Purdue University acceptance rate: 67%—U.S. News ranks Purdue as a more selective school.
  • Purdue application: Purdue only accepts the Common Application, not the Coalition Application.
  • Requirements for the Purdue supplemental essay: 
    • 2 (100-word) required essays
    • 2 (500-word) Purdue Honors College essays (required if applying to the Honors College)
  • #1 Purdue Essay Tip: We recommend answering both Purdue University supplemental essays comprehensively and thoughtfully, highlighting in each of your Purdue essays why Purdue is the perfect school for you.

What are Purdue University’s essays?

In addition to the Common App essay, students must also complete the Purdue supplemental essay prompts. 

Required Purdue supplemental essay prompts:

  1. How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (100 words)
  2. Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. (100 words)

Required Purdue supplemental essay prompts for Honors College applicants are:

  1. One Purdue supplemental essay about your vision for your honors experience at Purdue (500 words)
  2. An additional Purdue supplemental essay about the interdisciplinary nature of your chosen field of study (500 words)

These Purdue application essays represent the final step in the Purdue application process. Strong responses to the Purdue supplemental essays can help your Purdue application stand out among the almost 60,000 applications the university receives each year.

So, if you want to get into Purdue, it’s important to spend time on your responses to the Purdue essay prompts. A solid set of Purdue application essays can make a major difference in the Purdue admissions process.

In this guide, we’ll break down each of the Purdue essay prompts and provide expert tips on how to make sure your Purdue application essays shine. Keep reading to learn how to approach your Purdue University supplemental essays!

Purdue application essay requirements

purdue supplemental essay

Many selective colleges require supplemental essays beyond the standard Common App essay, also known as the Personal Statement. The Purdue application requirements are no exception to this. 

There are two Purdue essay prompts required of all applicants. Additionally, Honors College applicants must complete two additional Purdue University supplemental essays. Pay close attention to which Purdue supplemental essays you should complete, as it varies by program. 

So, if you are applying to Purdue University, you must complete at least two 100-word Purdue essay prompts. Each Purdue supplemental essay is designed to give you a chance to show Purdue admissions officers who you are, beyond the rest of your application. You should treat each Purdue supplemental essay as an opportunity to showcase a part of yourself that isn’t highlighted elsewhere within the Purdue application requirements.

Honors College essay requirements

Like many schools, Purdue has additional requirements for the Purdue Honors College. If you apply to the Purdue John Martinson Honors College, you must complete two more 500-word Purdue Honors College essays. These additional prompts help Purdue Admissions ensure that Purdue Honors College applicants go above and beyond the typical Purdue application requirements. 

You should be sure to set aside more than enough time to craft strong Purdue Honors College essays and Purdue supplemental essays.

Purdue Supplemental Essay- Prompt 1 (Required)

How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (100 words maximum)

The first Purdue essay asks applicants to reflect on their academic and personal interests. Then, it asks them to explain how Purdue will help them pursue those interests. In other words, the first of the Purdue essay prompts asks why you want to attend Purdue over any other school. 

You’ve probably encountered similar “why this college?” essay prompts on other applications. So, as you might expect, this Purdue application essay must be specific to Purdue. You won’t be able to copy and paste another school’s essay to answer this Purdue supplemental essay. 

Brainstorming your topic

Before starting to write this Purdue supplemental essay, think about your interest in Purdue. Write down a list of reasons why Purdue made your college list. Does Purdue offer a particular program that interests you? Or does Purdue’s campus culture fit your vision for your college experience? The best responses to the Purdue essay prompts will include specific details.

purdue supplemental essay

Building your narrative

Once you have created your list of interests, identify several that you would like to write about in your Purdue supplemental essays. This Purdue supplemental essay doesn’t give you much space; picking one or two interests, therefore, will help you stay within the word count and give your essay some structure. 

When deciding which interests to focus on, remember your other Purdue essay. You can discuss your intended major in the second of the required Purdue essay prompts. With this in mind, make sure you don’t delve into topics better suited for other Purdue essay prompts. Instead, use this Purdue supplemental essay to talk about interests that you have not discussed in other areas of your application. After all, you want each Purdue supplemental essay to showcase a different part of your identity.

Making it specific

Next, research Purdue to see how your interests overlap with opportunities Purdue offers. The Purdue essay prompts are a chance to show off the research you’ve done; for example, talking to Purdue admissions representatives or visiting campus. If any of these interactions relate to one of your chosen themes, mention them in this Purdue supplemental essay. This shows your knowledge of Purdue’s strengths as a university. 

For example, a prospective student could use this Purdue application essay to discuss the state-of-the-art kinesiology labs she visited and how they would help her pursue her interest in physical therapy. Make sure you discuss what you experienced along with how it relates to your interests. Once again, the best Purdue University supplemental essays will use specific details to show why you belong at Purdue.

Writing your essay

Now that you’ve done the brainstorming and research for this Purdue supplemental essay, you can start writing. Because you only have 100 words for this Purdue supplemental essay, you need to make each one count. Avoid unrelated topics, vague wording, and forms of “to be.” Instead, use clear language and strong action verbs in each Purdue essay. Compare these two sentences below:

“There is no school that is a better fit to support my interests than Purdue University.” (16 words)

“Purdue possesses the resources to support my interests.” (8 words)

The second sentence conveys the same message as the first, but it uses much stronger language and fewer words. Specific details and short, powerful sentences will help your Purdue essay stand out. 

Purdue Supplemental Essay Reflection Questions:

  • Does your Purdue essay refer to 2-3 strong interests from your list?
  • Do you present information not found in other areas of your application?
  • Does your Purdue supplemental essay contain specific information about Purdue based on your research?
  • Do you clearly explain to Purdue admissions how Purdue will help you pursue your interests?

Purdue Supplemental Essay- Prompt 2 (Required)

Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. (100 words maximum)

The second of the Purdue supplemental essays is the typical “why major essay.” The “why major essay” is a common supplemental essay question that many schools require. Purdue is no different—they want to understand why you aim to pursue the field you’ve indicated on your application. 

The reality of the “why major essay” question is that schools want to know you’ve done your research on their programs. As a result of this, your “why major essay” for each school must relate to that school’s unique offerings. While you can include some general details, you should make sure this essay remains school-specific. 

Not all students know what they plan to major in. Choosing your college major is a big decision, and it requires plenty of forethought. This Purdue supplemental essay can be especially daunting if you’re unsure of your major, so let’s explore how to get around that. 

Brainstorming your major

purdue supplemental essay

Before starting to write this “why major essay,” think about the school subjects you enjoy. You may already identify as a lover of math or know you have the most fun in English class. However, Purdue University offers more than 200 different undergraduate majors across their 11 different colleges, so check the full list for options. This research will also help you show demonstrated interest in this Purdue supplemental essay.

When selecting a major for this Purdue application essay, think about the career you might want to pursue. You might consider the topics you have liked learning about, both inside and outside the classroom. If you’re having trouble selecting one major for this Purdue supplemental essay, choose the major you have the most compelling reasons to pursue.

Selecting a field of study for this Purdue supplemental essay might feel daunting. However, don’t be stressed about choosing a major. Instead, as you write your Purdue supplemental essay, focus on showing your intellectual curiosity and engagement with your studies. You can always change your major once you arrive on campus.

Using details

In order to write the best essay possible, include experiences that have made the biggest impact on your academic career. Have you had a teacher who drove you to explore more about their subject? Have you had work or volunteer experience that inspired you to pursue a particular major? Do you have a burning passion to support a specific cause? 

Your Purdue application essay should tell a story. So, highlight stories where you’ve engaged deeply with your chosen subject, whether directly or indirectly. In doing so, you’ll help readers understand why your chosen major excites you. This can help your Purdue supplemental essay showcase your intellectual curiosity.

Whatever major you choose, don’t just discuss the basic reasons why you enjoy it in this Purdue essay. Instead, go deeper. Think of this Purdue essay as a short narrative where you share moments in your life that have influenced you. A student who wants to major in electrical engineering might talk about getting a circuitry kit for Christmas and watching his dad repair wires around the house. She might then share how she helped the school robotics club win a competition. Find those formative moments in your life and use them as the foundation of your Purdue supplemental essay. Again, the best Purdue supplemental essay will be the most specific!

Purdue Supplemental Essay Reflection Questions:

  • Does your Purdue essay focus on the major that most interests you?
  • Do you use specific details about how you came to love that major?
  • Does your Purdue supplemental essay help your reader learn something new about you?

Purdue Honors College Essay Requirements

The Purdue Honors College is a separate program within Purdue University specifically designed for high-achieving students. Recently, the Purdue Honors College became formally known as the John Martinson Honors College. According to their website, “Martinson supports new programmatic initiatives which promote undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity, leadership and professional development, global and community engagement, and innovative pedagogies.” 

You should research the Purdue Honors College thoroughly before deciding if you want to apply. Once you make the decision that the Purdue Honors College is right for you, it’s time to crack down on the Purdue Honors College essays.

The Purdue Honors College supplemental essay requirements are:

  • 1 (500-word) Purdue supplemental essay about your vision for your honors experience at Purdue
  • 1 (500-word) Purdue essay prompt about the interdisciplinary nature of your chosen field of study

Now, let’s break down each of the Purdue supplemental essays for the Purdue Honors College and talk about strategies to tackle each one. 

For more help on writing supplemental essays, click here. For help standing out in the college admissions process, read this article.

Purdue Honors College Essays- Question 1 

Explain your vision, ideas, or goals for how you hope to shape your honors experience while at Purdue. Please put this in the context of the four pillars which are the foundation of the John Martinson Honors College. (500 word maximum)

In order to answer the first of the Honors College Purdue essay prompts effectively, you need to reflect on your reasons for applying to the Honors College. Then, you need to connect those reasons to the four pillars that express the Honors College’s values. The best Purdue application essays will directly connect an applicant’s academic goals with the four pillars of the Purdue Honors College.

Understanding Purdue

Before starting this Purdue supplemental essay, you need to have a firm understanding of the four pillars mentioned in the prompt. These pillars are: community and global engagement, undergraduate research, leadership development, and interdisciplinary academics. Reviewing the Honors College mission statement will give you more information about the four pillars. You do not need to reference all four of these pillars in your Purdue essay; instead, focus on whichever ones best fit with your future plans.

Researching the Honors College beyond the four pillars can also help strengthen your Purdue supplemental essay. Start by browsing this year’s Honors College course list. Review some of the research projects done by past Honors students. As you brainstorm for your Purdue admissions essays, look for programs and projects that connect to your interests. You might see a course or research project that lines up with one of your passions. You can use that as evidence in your Purdue essay that the Honors College will provide an ideal learning environment to nurture your interests.

Making it about you

This Purdue essay prompt asks you to imagine how you would spend your time as a Purdue Honors student. That future will likely be rooted in your past experiences. Strong Purdue application essays, therefore, should use the four pillars of Purdue Honors to connect your past experiences to your future at Purdue. 

When you talk about your future, try to be as specific as possible. For instance, saying that you want to travel to India to study their culture is not as powerful as saying that you want to travel to India to research how native fashions have changed due to modern technology in this Purdue essay.

purdue supplemental essay

You can begin brainstorming for this Purdue supplemental essay by doing a free-write based on this prompt: “If I could have any academic experience I want in college, what would it be?” Think about the questions you might explore or problems you would like to solve if you had the freedom to choose. Don’t limit yourself—the best way to start writing is to free yourself from any perfectionism. 

Use this Purdue admissions essay to share the subject that you could stay up all night researching or the idea you cannot get out of your head. Let your ambition come across in your writing, using the four pillars of the Honors College as the foundation for achieving your goals. Finally, help your reader envision how you would contribute to the Honors College in this Purdue supplemental essay.

Purdue Supplemental Essay Reflection Questions:

  • Does your Purdue essay clearly describe your goals for attending the Honors College?
  • Do you include references to at least one of the four pillars of the Honors College?
  • Does your Purdue supplemental essay indicate specific projects you might undertake or resources you might use as an Honors student?

Purdue Honors College Essays- Question 2

Please describe the interdisciplinary nature of your chosen field of study and how it complements or supports other fields. (Examples: You might describe how your work in a liberal arts career may impact or inform the work of an engineer.) (500 word maximum)

The second of the Purdue application essays asks how your chosen subject connects to other fields. At first, this Purdue essay can seem daunting. After all, most high school classes are separated by subject without much room for interdisciplinary work. However, with a little creative thinking, you can develop relationships between just about any set of subjects and use those relationships to write a strong Purdue essay.

Finding an intersection

To get you started, here are a few examples of interdisciplinary study that would make good material for Purdue application essays:

  • Creating a business plan for a health care clinic combines medicine with economics
  • Volunteering at a music therapy provider combines Psychology and Music into an interdisciplinary field grounded in helping those with mental illnesses
  • A project about the evolution of manufacturing technology combines history with engineering

These example topics for a Purdue supplemental essay represent a tiny fraction of the ways you could answer this prompt. Each of these potential Purdue application essays could also tie in with some of your activities from high school. 

You might also use your Purdue essay to consider what you have learned working with people who have different interests than yours and how you could bring that knowledge to your studies. Strong Purdue admissions essays can come from anywhere, so don’t limit yourself. 

Getting creative

If you struggle to form connections between academic fields based on your personal experience, you can use your imagination to come up with hypothetical situations that might foster collaboration across fields. These imaginary situations can still make for a great Purdue supplemental essay. 

For instance, as a lover of computer science, you might imagine its applications in the world of digital art to create vivid settings for a video game. The best Purdue supplemental essays will be unique and creative. Additionally, strong Purdue application essays will tell a story. The more you can use narratives to illustrate the wide range of uses for your discipline, the more successful your Purdue admissions essay will be.

Purdue Honors College Essays Reflection Questions:

  • Does your Purdue supplemental essay demonstrate your enthusiasm for your chosen field?
  • Do you include a variety of possible connections between your chosen fields and other fields?
  • Does your Purdue admissions essay use stories and examples to illustrate the connections between fields?

Want more helpful tips on how to approach your Purdue supplemental essays and other aspects of Purdue University’s application process? Check out this video below from Purdue’s senior assistant director of admissions! 

What does Purdue University look for in essays?

Your Purdue supplemental essays help the admissions team get to know you beyond your demographics, transcript, and activities list. Each Purdue essay also provides valuable insight into what kind of student you would be.

These specific Purdue essay prompts help the Purdue admissions committee understand how you will use your education at Purdue. Purdue looks for students who can articulate their interests and describe how Purdue’s resources will help them pursue these interests. Your Purdue application essays, then, should show the Purdue admissions team how Purdue would help you meet your goals.

Demonstrated Interest

The committee wants to see you show demonstrated interest (DI) in Purdue. DI is a gauge that universities use to determine how interested a student is in attending their school. To take advantage of this, use your Purdue application essays to explain exactly what about Purdue interests you. You don’t need to physically visit the campus to write strong Purdue supplemental essays. However, if you don’t visit, it helps to find other ways of showing your interest. These include contacting admissions officers, reviewing the school’s website, or attending a virtual information session/webinar.

The Purdue admissions team also wants to know if you can write clearly and concisely—an important skill for succeeding in college. So, ensure your writing is strong, clear, and free of any errors. Your Purdue application essays also show your attention to detail and passion for learning. Students who use the Purdue essay prompts to showcase their passions will definitely impress the admissions team.

How do I get into Purdue University?

Getting accepted into Purdue starts with filling out the Common Application and meeting the Purdue application requirements. On the Common Application, you will report your GPA, list your high school activities, and write a 250-650 word Common App essay. 

For the fall and spring of 2023, Purdue is test flexible. This means if you have the opportunity to take the SAT or ACT, Purdue admissions would prefer you do. This is different from test optional because test optional schools truly have no preference for test scores. Purdue, however, makes it clear that they would like to review test scores as part of your application if possible. Strong scores will only enhance your application

Your GPA, course schedule, test scores, Common App essay, letters of recommendation, supplemental essays, and extracurricular activities comprise the Purdue application requirements and will all factor into the committee’s decision.

Last year, approximately 60,000 students applied to Purdue University. The median GPA range of accepted applicants was 3.5-3.9, the median SAT was 119-1410, and the median ACT was 26-33. As you can see, Purdue admits students with high scores, which contributes to the U.S. News Purdue University ranking.

In 2022, U.S. News assigned its Purdue University ranking among national universities at #51 overall. US News also named Purdue as one of the Top 10 most innovative universities in the last four years. Among public universities, the Purdue University ranking is #18 in the country. Purdue University’s top academic programs include Aerospace Engineering (where the Purdue University ranking is #5) and Biological/Agricultural Engineering (where the Purdue University ranking is #2). This makes Purdue a great fit for students specifically interested in those fields.

Finally, the Purdue University ranking attracts many applicants who view Purdue’s rankings as a sign of prestige. This means that Purdue supplemental essays will be used to determine which students are interested in attending for reasons beyond the Purdue University ranking. Remember, your Purdue supplemental essays are your chance to show the admissions team your genuine interest in the school. 

Looking to put your best foot forward when filling out the Common Application and writing the Common App essay? Check out this guide for helpful tips.

Top 5 Purdue Supplemental Essay Tips

How to write an outstanding Purdue Supplemental Essay:

#1 – Start early

Be sure to leave yourself time to edit and revise each of your Purdue University supplemental essays. You don’t want to be drafting and editing a Purdue supplemental essay down to the wire.

#2 – Look at the big picture

When writing your Purdue supplemental essays, consider your application as a whole. Make sure that each Purdue supplemental essay explores something new about you. 

#3 – Be authentic

Don’t lie or exaggerate on your Purdue University supplemental essays. Each Purdue application essay is a chance for you to showcase who you are.

#4 – Show your unique self

These Purdue supplemental essays are an opportunity for you to stand out to Purdue admissions. Don’t generalize in your responses to the Purdue essay prompts. Instead, get specific about your experiences. Use the opportunity to not only demonstrate who you are, but also to show off your writing style.

#5 – Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Edit your essays. You don’t want to craft a stellar Purdue supplemental essay, only to have it marred by poor grammar or a spelling mistake. Have another person look over each Purdue supplemental essay before you submit it. 

Purdue Supplemental Essay- Final Thoughts

Although each Purdue supplemental essay is short, they are also incredibly important. Don’t think that a short essay will take you less time to write—often, short essays are the hardest to write. Given the Purdue University ranking, you should use every chance you get to stand out. This includes crafting strong Purdue supplemental essays.

The Purdue essay prompts help the admissions committee get to know the person behind the grades and test scores. Make sure that your Purdue supplemental essays are full of anecdotes and stories that show why you will succeed as a Purdue student! Let your readers know in each Purdue supplemental essay that you have done your research and thought about why you want to attend Purdue. And finally, seek help from trusted sources with editing your Purdue supplemental essays; sometimes a second opinion can help you improve your Purdue essays in unexpected ways.


Purdue supplemental essay

This Purdue supplemental essays guide was written by Laura Frustaci. 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.