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Struggling with how to approach the Purdue essay prompts? With advice from a trained Admissions Expert, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Purdue supplemental essays can help your writing stand out and make your Purdue application essays as strong as possible. If you need assistance with developing your Purdue essays, sign up for your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Purdue Supplemental Essays Guide Quick Facts:

  • Purdue University has an acceptance rate of 67%, making it a more selective school according to U.S. News.
  • The Purdue University ranking is #49 in the U.S. News ranking of National Universities.
  • We recommend answering each of the Purdue essay prompts—including the optional one—carefully and thoughtfully.

How do I get into Purdue University?

Before we break down the Purdue essays, let’s talk about Purdue admissions.

Purdue’s Statistics

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.

The Common Application

Getting accepted into Purdue starts with filling out the Common Application. On the Common Application, you will report your GPA, list your high school activities, and write a 250-650 word essay. For the fall and spring of 2022, Purdue will not require students to submit SAT or ACT scores; however, if you have taken either test and scored well, submitting those scores will benefit you. Your GPA, course schedule, test scores, writing sample, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities all factor into the committee’s decision.

Looking to put your best foot forward when filling out the Common Application? Check out this guide for helpful tips!

The Purdue Supplement

In addition to the Common Application, students must also complete the Purdue supplement, which includes the Purdue University supplemental essays. These Purdue application essays represent the final step in the application process. Strong responses to the Purdue supplemental essays can help your 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 Purdue University supplemental essays. A solid set of Purdue application essays can make a major difference in the 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!

What is Purdue ranked?

In 2021, U.S. News assigned its Purdue University ranking among national universities at #49 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 #17 in the country. Purdue University’s top academic programs include Aerospace Engineering (where the Purdue University ranking is #4) and Agricultural Engineering (where the Purdue University ranking is #1), This makes Purdue a great fit for students interested in those fields.

The Purdue University ranking can be a helpful tool, particularly as you build your school list. However, at the end of the day, don’t get hung up on the Purdue University ranking. As you create your school list, do your own research beyond the Purdue University rankings. While the Purdue University rankings can tell you a lot, they can’t tell you whether Purdue is the school for you.

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. Now, let’s dig into the Purdue essays!

Does Purdue University have any supplemental essays?

Many selective colleges require supplemental essays beyond the standard Common Application Personal Statement. Given the Purdue University ranking, it’s no surprise that Purdue asks students to submit additional Purdue application essays.There are three Purdue essay prompts—one is optional and two are required.

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. The Purdue essays also provide valuable insight into what kind of student you would be.

These specific Purdue essay prompts help the 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 admissions team how Purdue would help you meet your goals.

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 admissions committee also wants to know if you can write clearly and concisely—an important skill for succeeding in college. 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 impress the admissions team.

What are Purdue University’s essays?

Given the Purdue University ranking, you should do all you can to maximize your admissions odds. This starts by writing strong Purdue essays.

Now, let’s look at the Purdue supplemental essays and talk about strategies to tackle each one.

Below, you’ll find the full prompt and word limit for each of the Purdue University supplemental essays, including those unique to Honors College applicants. We recommend that you answer all of the Purdue essay prompts thoroughly, including the optional Purdue essay. For more information on why you should answer the optional Purdue essay prompts and more help on writing supplemental essays, click here.

Purdue Supplemental Essays: Question 1 (Required)

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

The first of the Purdue University supplemental essays asks applicants to reflect on their academic and personal interests and 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.

Brainstorming your topic

Before starting to write your 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 Purdue University supplemental essays will include specific details.

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. The Purdue supplemental essays don’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 the other Purdue essays. You can discuss your intended major in the second of the Purdue essay prompts and an activity or work experience in the third Purdue essay. With this in mind, make sure you don’t delve into topics better suited for other Purdue University supplemental essays. Instead, use this space to talk about interests that you have not discussed in other areas of your application. After all, you want each of your Purdue University supplemental essays 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 admissions representatives or visiting campus. If any of these interactions relate to one of your chosen themes, mention it here because it shows your knowledge of Purdue’s strengths. For example, a prospective student could talk about how the state-of-the-art kinesiology labs she visited 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 the admissions team why a student belongs at Purdue.

Writing your essay

Now that you’ve done the brainstorming and research, you can start writing! Because you only have 100 words, 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. Compare these two sentences below:

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

“Purdue University possesses the resources to support my interests.” (10 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 Essay Draft Key Questions:

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

Purdue Supplemental Essays: Question 2 (Required)

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

The second of the Purdue supplemental essays asks why you plan to pursue your chosen major. Purdue essay prompts like this can be daunting if you’re unsure of your major, so let’s explore how to get around that!

Brainstorming your major

Before starting to write, 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 list for options. This research will also help you show demonstrated interest in your Purdue University supplemental essays!

When selecting a major for your Purdue University supplemental essays, 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 deciding on one major, choose the major you have the most compelling reasons to pursue.

Selecting a field of study for the Purdue supplemental essays might feel daunting. However, don’t be stressed about choosing a major. Instead, as you write your Purdue supplemental essays, 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? Sharing these kinds of stories in your Purdue application essays helps readers understand why your chosen major excites you. This can help your Purdue University supplemental essays showcase your intellectual curiosity.

Whatever major you choose, don’t just discuss the basic reasons why you enjoy it. Instead, go deeper. Think of this 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. He might then share how he helped the school robotics club win a competition. Find those formative moments in your life and use them as the foundation of your essay. Again, the best Purdue University supplemental essays will be the most specific!

Purdue Essay Draft Key Questions:

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

Purdue Supplemental Essays: Question 3 (Optional)

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words max.)

This prompt gives students the opportunity to choose any of their activities or work experiences and discuss it in detail. We’ll start by reviewing how to select the best topic for the Purdue supplemental essays. Then, we’ll discuss how to describe the activity you’ve chosen in the strongest way.

Choosing an activity

When choosing a topic, start by writing down 3-5 traits you would like to showcase in your Purdue supplemental essays. Do you want others to see you as a strong leader? How about a person who serves others? Or maybe you pride yourself on your ability to solve tough problems?Once you’ve thought about how to present yourself to Purdue admissions, use this prompt to elaborate on a recent experience that reveals the traits you want to display. Each of your Purdue University supplemental essays should teach your reader something important about your identity, and this prompt is no exception. Make sure you select an experience that reflects how you embody the traits you listed.

Crafting your essay

Once you have chosen your topic, start with some basic questions: What exactly did you do? What inspired you to do it? What specific tasks did you perform as part of this experience? Remember that the people reading your Purdue essays know nothing about your experience beyond what you write, so be sure to explain your topic clearly at the beginning of your essay.Then, you can dig into some of the deeper questions behind the Purdue essay prompts. For instance, what lessons did you learn from this experience? How did this experience challenge you, and how did you meet that challenge? How will you continue to engage in similar experiences in college?

While the Purdue essays might not explicitly ask these questions, the best Purdue University supplemental essays will answer them. You should devote most of your essay not to describing the activity itself, but to how the activity helped you grow.

Purdue Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your essay focus on one specific activity or experience that you engaged in within the last two years?
  • Do you show show how you exhibit the characteristics you want your reader to see?
  • Does your essay provide context for your involvement in your chosen activity?
  • Does your essay explain how the activity you chose affected or changed you?

Purdue University Supplemental Essays: Honors College Question 1 (Required for Honors applicants)

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 Honors College (500 words max).

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 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 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 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 University supplemental 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 that the Honors College will provide an ideal learning environment to nurture your interests.

Making it about you

This 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.

You can begin brainstorming for this 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.

Use this prompt 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.

Purdue Essay Draft Key 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 essay indicate specific projects you might undertake or resources you might use as an Honors student?

Purdue University Supplemental Essays: Honors College Question 2 (Required for Honors applicants)

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

The second of the Purdue application essays asks how your chosen subject connects to other fields. At first, this prompt 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 strong Purdue essays.

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 Purdue supplemental essays 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 essays 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 University supplemental 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 great Purdue essays. 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 University 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 essay will be.

Purdue Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your 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 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!

Purdue Supplemental Essays Final Thoughts

Although the Purdue University supplemental essays are short, they are also incredibly important. 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 let the admissions committee get to know the person behind your 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 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.


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This 2021-2022 essay guide on Purdue was written by Alex Baggott-Rowe, Davidson ‘16. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on essay writing and the Purdue essays, click here. Want help crafting your Purdue supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.