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Not sure how to approach the Rutgers essay prompts? CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Rutgers supplemental essays will show you how to write engaging Rutgers essays and maximize your admissions odds.

For more help crafting your Rutgers supplemental essays, click here to create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Rutgers Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • According to U.S. News, the Rutgers University Ranking is #63 in National Universities.
  • Rutgers has an acceptance rate of 66.9%.
  • Rutgers requires one essay of 3800 characters through the Coalition Application or their Rutgers portal.
  • We recommend completing the Rutgers supplement essay cohesively and thoroughly to maximize your admissions odds. Strong Rutgers essays can make a huge difference!

Rutgers University wants students who will be active members of their academic community and the Global Rutgers network. Rutgers looks for students who can clearly articulate their beliefs and values to others. This is why the Rutgers application essay is so important.

Ready to get started? Let’s talk Rutgers essays.

Does Rutgers have a Supplemental Essay?

Yes. Rutgers accepts applications through the Rutgers Application Portal or the Coalition Application. All applicants must complete one Rutgers supplement essay, which can be submitted either through the Coalition Application or through the Rutgers Application Portal.

The Rutgers-specific essay prompts are the same as those listed on the Coalition Application.

Check out the Rutgers admissions website for more specific details, including information about the Rutgers application essay and tips on how to write strong Rutgers essays.

How Many Essays does Rutgers Require?

Good news! There is only one Rutgers supplemental essay.

Rutgers requires one essay of 3800 characters including spaces (around 500 words). This essay should address one of four topics. Your Rutgers application essay can also be on a topic of your choosing.

Does Rutgers Care about Supplemental Essays?

Yes—all schools care about supplemental essays, and Rutgers is no exception.

The Rutgers essay is a great chance for applicants to show who they are and why they should be admitted. Additionally, your Rutgers application essay is your only chance to address the admissions team on your own terms. The Rutgers admissions team will read thousands of Rutgers essays, and you want yours to stand out. In your Rutgers supplement essay, then, you should do all you can to show what makes you unique.

How do I Write the Rutgers College Essay?

We have provided the prompts for the Rutgers supplemental essays 2021-2022 below. You’ll find a breakdown of how to approach the Rutgers essays as well as tips for creating a strong application narrative.

In your Rutgers supplemental essays, you’ll want to keep your application narrative in mind. An application narrative is the story that your application tells. Ideally, each part of your application will work together to form a full picture. For example, a student looking to study architecture may seek out recommendation letters from their math teachers. That student may also highlight a summer internship at a local architecture firm. Finally, they may write an essay on the moment that they discovered their interest in building design.

Unsure of what an application narrative would look like for you? Check out CollegeAdvisor’s article A Deep Dive into the Personal Narrative.

What are the Essays for Rutgers?

The Rutgers supplemental essays 2021-2022 are available on the main Rutgers website along with a full list of application requirements. You can also find the Rutgers application essays on the Coalition Application.

Additionally, we’ve outlined each of the Rutgers supplemental essays below. We’ve also included strategies on how to respond to each of the Rutgers essay prompts.

Have questions about how to approach supplemental essays for other applications? Then check out our FAQs on all things Supplemental Essays.

Let’s break down the Rutgers essay prompts!

Choosing one of the Rutgers essay prompts is one of the most important parts of the essay process. There are five Rutgers essay prompts. Not sure which to choose? Try thinking about the following questions as you approach each potential Rutgers supplemental essay topic.

For each potential Rutgers application essay topic, ask yourself:

  1. Do I have a specific story to tell?
  2. Why am I telling this story?
  3. How does my story connect to my interest in Rutgers?
  4. Can I address what I like about Rutgers that I can’t find anywhere else?

If you can answer these questions clearly, then you are ready to write your Rutgers application essay!

Need more inspiration? Then, check out CollegeAdvisor’s article 39 essay tips from Admissions Experts.

Rutgers Supplemental Essays – Topic 1 (Optional)

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

The Rutgers essay prompts are designed to help you introduce yourself to the admissions committee. In your Rutgers supplemental essay, you want to discuss an experience that is about YOU. This prompt asks you to tell a story about who you are or who you have become.

Consider what values and personality traits you hold. What story might reflect these traits? For example, you might have plenty of stories about going fishing with your grandpa. However, if none of these stories emphasize your patience or your passion for family, then we won’t learn much from your Rutgers application essay.

The first of the Rutgers essay prompts asks you to tell a “story.” This story should be a full narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. However, the most important part of this story is that it revolves around you. Don’t spend so much time in your Rutgers application essay discussing what happened that you don’t have the space to tell your reader why it mattered and how it relates to your identity.

In addition, you’ll want to connect this story with the kind of student you’d be at Rutgers. Among other things, the Rutgers essay prompts are designed to assess how you’d “fit” at Rutgers. You should use your Rutgers application essay, then, to show how your priorities align with Rutgers’ offerings and values.

Have you read the Rutgers mission statement? Check out their about page for more info.

Rutgers Essay Draft Key Questions:

  1. Does your essay emphasize your core identity?
  2. Do you clearly showcase your values and personality traits?
  3. Does your essay show how you would embody Rutgers’ ideals?

Rutgers Supplemental Essays – Topic 2 (Optional)

Describe a time you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

This Rutgers supplement essay topic has two parts. Firstly, it asks you to describe a meaningful contribution you made to others. This contribution can be large or small-scale. What matters most is that the contribution you discuss in your Rutgers application essay reflects something important about you.

With prompts like this, writing can sometimes feel like bragging—this makes some students downplay their achievements out of self-consciousness. In your Rutgers supplement essay, however, don’t discount the value of your contribution. Your Rutgers application essay should show that you care about the common good and have actively dedicated yourself to others. In your Rutgers supplement essay, you should foreground what’s important to you and how you’ve served the world around you.

The second part of this Rutgers supplement essay question asks you to discuss the challenges and rewards of your contribution. When you talk about challenges, don’t undermine yourself. Avoid sentences that start with “I didn’t do…” or “I failed at…” Instead, focus on how you solved these challenges or how you would have solved them if you were to do it over again. The strongest Rutgers essays will use specific details to discuss how you contributed to your community, the impact you made, and any complications that you faced.

Rutgers Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your essay respond to both parts of the question?
  • Do you clearly state the impact of your contribution?
  • Do you avoid fixating on the challenges and shortcomings of your contribution?

Rutgers Supplemental Essays – Topic 3 (Optional)

Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?

As you approach this Rutgers supplement essay, start by finding a clear and concise way to describe your belief. A belief can be anything as serious as your religion or as simple as the belief that hot dogs are also sandwiches (controversial, I know). In both scenarios, your readers need to understand what your belief is and where it came from.

The story you tell in your Rutgers supplement essay should reveal something deep about your character and values. The best Rutgers essays, then, will use an instance of a belief being challenged to reveal something essential about how a student deals with conflicting perspectives.

Once you’ve established your belief, then discuss how it felt for this belief to be challenged. How did this conversation affect you? Did it force you to reconsider your perspectives? Did it create an emotional response? As you write, describe how you felt specifically. Ask yourself if you felt attacked by this challenge or if it opened your eyes to the viewpoints of others. Finally, describe how your belief system changed. Discuss any realizations you had and how you changed as a result of the situation. Overall, your Rutgers supplement should discuss what kind of student or thinker this conversation helped you become.

Rutgers Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you describe your belief and its origins?
  • Does your Rutgers supplement essay describe how you were emotionally affected by this situation?
  • Do you share how this challenge changed you as a student and thinker?

Rutgers Supplemental Essays – Topic 4 (Optional)

What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

This Rutgers essay may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to this Rutgers supplemental essay is to be honest. You don’t need to spend your Rutgers supplemental essay describing big-picture issues. Instead, just make sure your Rutgers supplement essay speaks clearly and deeply about something that matters to you.

Additionally, make sure you describe how these issues directly impact your life and shape the person you’re becoming. Discuss both the positives and the negatives, and make sure you use clear language.

Finally, remember that your Rutgers supplemental essays should be about you. In this Rutgers supplement essay, don’t just focus on general struggles and triumphs that teenagers face. Instead, make sure you tie these experiences to your own development. The best Rutgers essays will use a student’s view of the world to relate to their own experiences.

Rutgers Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you speak honestly about your experiences?
  • Does your Rutgers supplement essay clearly define the positives and negatives of the teenage experience?
  • Do you focus equally on the positives and negatives?
  • Is your essay about you?

Rutgers Supplemental Essays – Topic 5 (Optional)

Submit an essay on the topic of your choice.

Not interested in any of the other Rutgers essay prompts? This is a perfect chance to show Rutgers who you are on your own terms.

However, make sure you don’t use this Rutgers application essay to tell a story about someone else. If you choose your own topic for your Rutgers supplement essay, make sure that it reflects an important aspect of yourself that you can’t discuss anywhere else. If you read your essay and it can apply to any other topic above, choose another of the Rutgers essay prompts.

Moreover, if your essay says a lot about a topic but nothing about you, then you should change your topic. This comes from the scope of your question. If your topic is something like “why I like bread,” then your reader will learn a lot about bread and nothing about you. However, if your topic is “why baking bread with my grandma taught me to value patience,” then your reader will learn about your experiences and insights. The strongest Rutgers essays will use specific details to tell a story that your reader couldn’t learn from any other part of your application.

Rutgers Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your Rutgers application essay topic reflect something not shown elsewhere in your application?
  • Does your topic not fit with any of the other Rutgers essay prompts?
  • Do you discuss what kind of student or person you are?

Additional tips for writing your Rutgers Supplemental Essays

Choose Your Topic Wisely

Do not choose a Rutgers application essay topic that does not speak to you. At the end of the day, your response to the Rutgers essay prompts needs to connect to your own experiences. Many essays might be well-written, but they would still be ineffective if they tell us nothing about the writer. In your Rutgers essays, the admissions team wants to understand what kind of person and student you are. Don’t make up a story in order to seem more interesting. Instead, just be yourself and thoroughly explain why your topic matters to you.

Do Your Research

Don’t forget to read the official Rutgers materials. In these materials, the school explains what makes Rutgers unique. This should be in your mind while you write your essay. Ultimately, your answers to the Rutgers essay prompts should work in conversation with Rutgers’ own values.

Connect it back to Rutgers

Although you are writing an essay about yourself, remember that this is a school-specific application. For this reason, you should probably mention Rutgers at least once. Your responses to the Rutgers essay prompts should describe something specific about Rutgers you couldn’t find elsewhere.

Rutgers Supplemental Essays: Final Thoughts

Your Rutgers application should connect yourself to the school. Remember that Rutgers wants to admit students who have a clear definition of why they need to be at Rutgers specifically. Spend time on the Rutgers website, and focus your essay on values related to the school. Finally, don’t forget to proofread your work. Good luck!


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This 2021-2022 essay guide on Rutgers was written by Joy Nesbitt, Harvard ’21. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources, click here. Want help crafting your Rutgers supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.