rutgers supplemental essays
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Rutgers Supplemental Essay

Rutgers University, located in New Jersey, is celebrated as one of the premier public universities in the nation. Consequently, Rutgers Admissions carefully review thousands of applications, each one with a Rutgers supplemental essay annually to identify ideal candidates. Within the application, the Rutgers essay section is a significant portion for any prospective student.

With the Rutgers acceptance rate falling around 66%, many students wonder how to get into Rutgers University. Well, if you’re eager to discover the key to gaining admission to Rutgers University, you’re in the right place! In addition to maintaining a strong academic record, there’s another portion of your Rutgers application that can help make it shine: your essays. The Rutgers University supplemental essays are a critical opportunity to connect directly with admissions officers. With this in mind, your Rutgers essay can be the deciding factor in the success of your application.

Our guide on Rutgers University supplemental essays will walk you through strategies for writing clear, compelling, and authentic Rutgers essays. We’ll explore the Rutgers requirements, analyze Rutgers essay prompts, and provide valuable insights to help you craft your Rutgers essay. With this guide, you’ll be ready to write Rutgers University supplemental essays that are certain to impress Rutgers Admissions.

Are you ready to learn how to get into Rutgers University by harnessing the power of Rutgers University supplemental essays? If so, let’s get started!

Rutgers Admissions: Quick Facts

Rutgers University Admissions Quick Facts

  • 1 required (~650 word OR ~3800 character) personal statement essay
    • If Applying Using the Common Application: Rutgers requires applicants to complete the Common App essay. Choose from Common Application 2023-2024 Prompts (650 Words Maximum)
    • If Applying Using the Rutgers Application: Rutgers requires applicants to complete one essay similar to the Common App essay (3800 Characters Maximum) 
  • 1 optional Rutgers Supplemental Essay
  • Rutgers University Application Deadlines:
    • Early Action: November 1
    • Regular Decision: December 1
    • Rolling Admission: Students can submit their applications after the above due dates and will be considered based on space-availability.

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.

Does Rutgers have supplemental essays?

Part of the Rutgers requirements for their first-year applicants is completing Rutgers University supplemental essays. When you think of supplemental essays, you probably think of short, additional school-specific essays. They usually ask unique questions and typically ask for 150-300 word responses. However, in the case of Rutgers, you can think of the Rutgers supplemental essays a bit differently.

If using the Common Application, your Common App essay is considered your Rutgers supplemental essay. If using the Rutgers University Application, then your personal statement will still serve as your Rutgers supplemental essay. In addition to the personal statement, students have the option of completing one additional Rutgers essay.

How many essays does Rutgers require?

rutgers supplemental essays

As previously mentioned, Rutgers University requires first-year applicants to submit one Rutgers supplemental essay, i.e. your personal statement. The required Rutgers supplemental essay for students applying using the Common Application is the Common App essay.

The required Rutgers supplemental essay for students using the Rutgers University Application also aligns with the Common App essay. Therefore, instead of submitting the Common App essay through the Common Application, students will submit their response via the Rutgers Application.

Rutgers Supplemental Essays

rutgers supplemental essays

Viewing the Rutgers requirements, you’ll see the Rutgers essay prompts are the same as the Common App essay prompts. In the past, Rutgers essay prompts used to align with the Coalition essay prompts, however this is no longer the case. Therefore, whether you are using the Rutgers Portal or the Common Application, you’ll have the same choice of prompts. (While the Coalition essay prompts and Common App essay prompts cover similar topics, they are distinct from one another! Be sure you are referencing the Common App prompts when you start brainstorming for your Rutgers essay.)

Students can choose from seven different Rutgers essay prompts/Common App essay prompts. Luckily, the Common App essay prompts align with common college essay topics. Consequently, there are a ton of resources online that will help guide you in writing your response.

To save you some time conducting additional research, below are some tips for responding to the Common App essay prompts. Review these tips to ensure your Rutgers supplemental essay effectively answers the prompt.

Rutgers University Essay Prompt #1

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

This Rutgers supplemental essay is an opportunity for students to share something important to them. The key here is to reflect on something that has had a profound impact on your life. That way, you can share exactly how it has shaped you into the person you are today.

There are many ways to introduce the defining aspect of your background, identity, interest, or talent. Consider starting with a personal anecdote or something surprising about your topic. Don’t feel like you need a rigid topic sentence, “In this essay I will show how my experience playing basketball makes me a good candidate for Rutgers.” Your first sentence should immediately draw the reader into your world, whatever that looks like.

Be sure to discuss how this defining aspect has influenced your values, goals, and character. The point of reflecting on your past experiences is to see how you’ll take those lessons learned into the future. Lastly, emphasize how your unique background or talent would contribute to the campus community.

Rutgers University Essay Prompt #2

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

For this Rutgers supplemental essay, you’ll be focusing on a specific situation. This prompt is ideal for students who want to showcase their resilience, growth, and valuable lessons learned. Attending college is a challenging experience for just about everyone. So, it’s incredibly valuable to be able to demonstrate how you’ve previously faced challenges in your life.

To execute this Rutgers supplemental essay, describe the challenge, setback, or failure you encountered, providing context and details. Share the lessons you gained from this experience. Why was this specific conflict in your life so transformative and meaningful? Conclude your Rutgers supplemental essay by demonstrating how this experience positively influenced your character, achievements, and determination. Then, share how it connects to your aspirations for attending college.

Rutgers University Essay Prompt #3

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

If you have engaged in critical thinking, challenging the world around you, this may be the essay for you. Questioning the world around us is an important aspect of intellectual curiosity. It’s what drives us to explore new and valuable ideas, even when they don’t agree with the status quo.

In this Rutgers supplemental essay, be sure to explain the belief or idea you challenged and what prompted your thinking. Discuss the outcome of your inquiry and whether it led to personal growth or change. Did you learn to see that belief or idea in a new light? Or did your questioning lead you to new beliefs or ideas? Reflect on the significance of critical thinking, your newfound perspectives, and how they’ll impact your future pursuits at college.

Rutgers University Essay Prompt #4

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

This prompt is a good choice for students who’ve had a heartwarming or unexpected experience of gratitude towards someone. However, this shouldn’t be as simple as a nice memory. You’ll want to write about an experience that has had a significant impact on you or your life. If you weren’t ultimately changed by the experience, it’s probably not a compelling enough topic for your Rutgers supplemental essay.

When crafting this essay, context is important. How can you bring us into the specific instance or experience that evoked gratitude within you? Consider your relationship to this person before and after this moment you shared. Use thoughtful and specific details to show us what happened and why it was surprising. Be sure to discuss the lasting impact of this gratitude on your outlook, relationships, or personal development. And emphasize how it will impact your future endeavors.

Rutgers University Essay Prompt #5

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

This is a great opportunity to share a moment of growth. Change is a part of life, and we are constantly developing our perspective on ourselves and the world. Being able to reflect on the moments that helped you grow into the person you are today demonstrates wisdom and maturity. 

To write this Rutgers supplemental essay, you’ll need to consider the before and after. Establishing who you were before this moment is critical to showing the value of your personal growth. When describing the accomplishment, event, or realization, be sure to explain its context and significance to your life. Reflect on the lasting impact of this growth and how it has influenced your relationships, goals, and approach to challenges. Discuss how this period of personal growth has shaped your character and future ambitions, emphasizing its relevance to your future.

Rutgers University Essay Prompt #6

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

This essay is all about your deepest passions and intellectual curiosity. There are multiple aspects to this prompt, so you’ll want to be sure you answer it in its entirety. You need to address the topic, why you are interested in it, and how you expand your understanding of it.

Beginning this Rutgers supplemental essay may be a little tricky. Still, one way you can tackle this essay is by describing how you engage with this subject. What are the activities or pursuits that allow you to delve deeper into your passion? Why do you find them compelling?

Besides simply describing the topic itself, discuss the impact of this interest on your personal development and your future goals. If it has broadened your horizons or contributed to your growth, it’s a great topic for this essay. Conclude by reflecting on the role of this engagement in your life and how it drives you to continue your studies.

Rutgers University Essay Prompt #7

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

The flexibility of this prompt makes it perfect for students with a unique story that doesn’t neatly fit into the other Rutgers essay prompts. If you are crafting your own prompt, be sure to have a clear definition in mind before you start writing. You still want your essay to be focused, so you need a driving question to relate back to. Like with any prompt, your essay should reveal aspects of your character, values, beliefs, or perspectives that are important to you.

To craft your response to this Rutgers supplemental essay, choose a topic that holds personal significance. Explain its importance in your life or its relevance to your application to Rutgers. Share your narrative or insights, using vivid details and personal reflections to engage the reader. End your Rutgers supplemental essay by highlighting how this topic or story showcases your unique qualities or experiences.

How to write Rutgers supplemental essays

rutgers supplemental essays

You may notice the Rutgers essay prompts are very personal and require creativity. Therefore, when selecting and responding to these Rutgers essay prompts, it’s important to focus on these three things.

Self-Reflection is Key

Before writing your Rutgers supplemental essay, do some self-reflection. Who are you? What matters to you? Why are you a great candidate for your school? Through this self-reflection, you can get a picture of how you may differ from other applicants. Try to define the aspects of your personality that are important to you or you feel most proud of. Consider the experiences that led you to develop these traits, then see how those experiences connect with the Rutgers essay prompts.

Choose a Prompt that Fits You

After self-reflection, it’s important to choose a Rutgers supplemental essay prompt that aligns well with your personal experiences and stories. For instance, while reflecting, let’s say there was a significant challenge that you overcame that shaped your perspective. To share this story, you may want to consider the Rutgers essay prompts #2 or #5. Similarly, if you have a strong passion that is central to who you are, you may want to choose prompt #1 or #6. Ultimately, you want to choose Rutgers essay prompts that showcase the qualities that make you a valuable prospective student. 

Tell a Story

Considering the highly personal nature of your Rutgers supplemental essay, you can be creative with your storytelling. Use chronology and story arcs to build your Rutgers supplemental essay structure and include storytelling elements like dialogue and imagery. Lastly, be sure to show rather than tell your qualities. For instance, instead of saying you “love reading,” describe the hours you spend reading books. Remember, most stories have lessons or morals, so don’t leave your reader wondering what the point of your essay was.

By following these steps, you will be sure to capture admissions attention with your personality and unique experiences. Want more tips for writing your Rutgers supplemental essay? You’ll find additional advice in this CollegeAdvisor article entitled “How to Write Better Essays.” 

Optional Rutgers Essay

In addition to the required Rutgers supplemental essay, Rutgers gives students the opportunity to submit an optional Rutgers essay. The prompt for this optional Rutgers essay is an opportunity to provide context surrounding your academic performance:

Rutgers University Optional Essay Prompt

Do you have any family responsibilities or circumstances, such as a severe illness, that have negatively affected your academic performance? (650 Words Maximum)

You’ll find this essay under the Writing section of the Common App. If you answer “Yes” to the above question, a text box will populate for you to enter your response.

Is the Optional Rutgers essay really optional?

Yes, the optional Rutgers essay is truly optional. The optional Rutgers essay is a valuable platform to provide additional context or insights into your application. This can be especially helpful if you’ve had a specific period of lower grades or a long-term barrier to your education. However, not everyone has extenuating circumstances that have affected their ability to perform well in school. 

It’s essential to use this option judiciously and genuinely. Therefore, if you do not have an applicable situation to justify your response, then don’t write the optional Rutgers essay. Ultimately, if you choose to submit the optional Rutgers essay, make sure you provide a true and meaningful perspective.

What does Rutgers look for in an applicant?

rutgers supplemental essays

Rutgers University, like many other universities, looks for a holistic set of qualities and qualifications in its applicants. Here are some key factors that Rutgers typically considers when evaluating applicants:

1. Academic Achievement

Rutgers places significant emphasis on your high school academic performance. This includes your GPA, the rigor of your coursework (such as honors, AP, or IB classes), and your class rank, if available. They want to see that you have taken your high school studies seriously and have performed well.

2. Standardized Test Scores

Currently, Rutgers University is test optional through the 2024 admissions cycle. That said, standardized test scores (e.g., SAT or ACT) may still be considered if submitted.Therefore, if you believe your score can help your admissions decision, be sure to submit it to admissions. 

3. Extracurricular Activities

Rutgers values involvement in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, volunteer work, and leadership roles. They want to see that you’ve been active in your school or community and have demonstrated a commitment to your interests. 

4. Essays and Personal Statements

Your Rutgers University supplemental essays provide an opportunity to showcase your writing skills and offer insights into who you are. Highlight the best and most personal qualities of your personality, experiences, and aspirations.

It’s important to note that Rutgers University has multiple campuses: Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick. Specific admission criteria and requirements may vary slightly between campuses. It’s advisable to check the official Rutgers University admissions website for the most up-to-date information and specific campus requirements.

Where is Rutgers University?

rutgers supplemental essays

Rutgers is a multi-campus public research university in the United States. It’s located in the state of New Jersey, with multiple campuses spread throughout the state. Here’s an overview of the main campuses:

New Brunswick Campus

The largest and most well-known campus of Rutgers, it is located in New Brunswick. This campus houses several schools, including the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the Rutgers Business School.

Newark Campus

Located in the city of Newark, this campus offers a diverse urban environment. It is home to Rutgers Business School-Newark and Rutgers Law School, among others.

Camden Campus

Situated in Camden, New Jersey, this campus is known for its strong emphasis on the liberal arts and sciences. The Rutgers Law School is also located here.

Rutgers is well-connected to major metropolitan areas like New York City and Philadelphia. The university’s multiple campuses offers students a wide range of academic programs and research opportunities.

Additional information about Rutgers University

While this article emphasizes Rutgers University supplemental essays, it’s important to remember why you are writing them. The goal of your Rutgers supplemental essay is to highlight how your experience is a perfect fit for the university. Therefore, beyond knowing your personal strengths, you must also identify how those align with the university’s values and offerings. By doing this, you can find success in the Rutgers admission process, similar to CollegeAdvisor’s former advisee, Shrushti Talluri.

Rutgers University offers various academic programs and majors across its various campuses. Students have the opportunity to choose from over 150 undergraduate majors. These majors cover a wide range of disciplines, including arts and sciences, engineering, business, health sciences, and many more. The university’s diverse academic offerings allow students to pursue their interests and career goals.

Beyond academic majors, Rutgers University boasts a rich and diverse extracurricular environment with numerous student organizations, clubs, and activities. Rutgers has over 600 registered student organizations. The vast range of student organizations provides opportunities for personal growth, leadership development, and community engagement.

To ensure Rutgers is financially feasible for you to attend, be sure to understand their tuition and fees and do additional research on scholarships. If you truly are interested in Rutgers University, schedule a campus visit (or virtual visit!) to ensure the university is the perfect fit for you.

Rutgers Supplemental Essays: 5 Tips for Future Applicants

You may have begun this article by asking yourself how to get into Rutgers University. Well, hopefully, you now know that securing admission to Rutgers University is a goal within reach– if you have strong Rutgers University supplemental essays. 

Rutgers University supplemental essays play a pivotal role in achieving that aspiration. Your Rutgers essays provide a platform for you to present your unique experiences, values, and strengths to the admissions committee. By choosing the right Rutgers essay prompt and crafting a compelling, authentic response, you can increase your chances of becoming a part of Rutgers’ diverse and thriving academic community.

Here is a final list of five tips for future applicants:

Five tips for future applicants

rutgers supplemental essays

1. Self-Reflection is Key

Before choosing a Rutgers supplemental essay prompt, take time for self-reflection. Understand who you are, what matters to you, and why you’re a valuable candidate for Rutgers. This self-awareness will guide you in choosing the most fitting prompt.

2. Choose a Rutgers Essay Prompt that Fits You

Align your personal experiences and stories with a Rutgers supplemental essay prompt that resonates with your journey. Select the Rutgers essay prompt that best showcases the qualities that make you an asset to the university.

3. Get Creative With Your Storytelling

Given the personal nature of your Rutgers essay, be creative in your storytelling. Use storytelling elements like dialogue and imagery. Show rather than tell your qualities, and avoid clichéd language or stories. Strive for originality and authenticity.

4. Optional Rutgers Essay

While the optional Rutgers essay is indeed optional, it can provide valuable context if you have unique circumstances to share. Use it judiciously and genuinely, and only if it’s true to your situation and enhances your application.

5. Understand What Rutgers Looks For

Rutgers University is test-optional and values applicants’ academic achievement, extracurricular activities, and the Rutgers supplemental essay. Understand what Rutgers seeks in an applicant and aim to present those qualities in your application.

By following these tips, you can navigate the Rutgers University application process effectively and easily. And, you’ll be sure to create compelling Rutgers University supplemental essays that reflect your individuality and strength.

Now, we hope that you’re ready to apply. We wish you the best of luck with writing your Rutgers University supplemental essays and completing your application!

rutgers supplemental essays

This essay guide was written by senior advisor, Ashley Hollins. 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 can support you in the college application process.