harvey mudd college supplemental essays guide
Harvey Mudd Campus Building” by CampusGrotto is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Not sure how to approach the “Why Harvey Mudd” essay and other Harvey Mudd essay prompts? With advice from a trained Admissions Expert, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Harvey Mudd supplement can help improve your chances against the low Harvey Mudd acceptance rate. If you need help with your Harvey Mudd supplement essays, sign up for your free account or call (844) 343-6272 to schedule your free consultation today.

What is Harvey Mudd College ranked?

The overall Harvey Mudd college ranking among national liberal arts colleges is 28, according to U.S. News. Harvey Mudd specializes in engineering—the Harvey Mudd college ranking is #2 in engineering among schools that do not offer a doctorate. Harvey Mudd is also one of the most innovative schools in the country. The Harvey Mudd college ranking is #6 in this category.

What is Harvey Mudd College’s acceptance rate?

In 2020, the Harvey Mudd acceptance rate was 18%, placing it in the “more selective” category. The average Harvey Mudd SAT score is 1490-1570, and the average ACT score was 34-35. Because the Harvey Mudd acceptance rate is so low, the Harvey Mudd supplement is a great chance to stand out. So, if your test scores or GPA are at or below this average, don’t worry—a strong Harvey Mudd supplement can boost your chances at admission. For details about the school beyond the Harvey Mudd college ranking or the Harvey Mudd acceptance rate, check out the Common Data Set from this year’s incoming class.

Since the Harvey Mudd acceptance rate is so low, the admissions committee wants to ensure the students they admit genuinely want to attend Harvey Mudd. They use the Harvey Mudd supplement to assess how much investment a student has in the school. This is known as Demonstrated Interest (DI). The more interest you show, the more likely it is that Harvey Mudd College will accept you. So, be sure to explain why you would be a great fit for Harvey Mudd and how the school can help you succeed.

The Harvey Mudd application and the Harvey Mudd supplement evaluate students holistically. They assess a student’s character, writing skills, and overall fit for the school. Because the Harvey Mudd college ranking is so high, there is a lot of competition. So, you should do all you can to stand out. 

Does Harvey Mudd College have any supplemental essays?

Like many schools with similar acceptance rates to the Harvey Mudd acceptance rate, Harvey Mudd has supplemental essays. The Harvey Mudd supplement has two required Harvey Mudd essay prompts. The first one is a longer “Why Harvey Mudd essay,” which asks students why they want to attend Harvey Mudd. The second of the Harvey Mudd essay prompts asks students to describe their ideal college class in the humanities, arts, or social sciences. 

The first of the Harvey Mudd essay prompts is a classic “Why Us” essay. Schools use these prompts to assess why a student thinks the college will be a good fit for them. A good response will show knowledge about Harvey Mudd and explain how the writer will take advantage of the resources that Harvey Mudd provides.

The second of the Harvey Mudd essay prompts is more creative. This prompt asks students to look beyond the Harvey Mudd college ranking and Harvey Mudd acceptance rate at what they would like to learn in their ideal college class. As a liberal arts school, Harvey Mudd emphasizes academic diversity through its rigorous humanities curriculum. A strong response highlights the writer’s academic interests and shows careful self-reflection.

The Harvey Mudd supplement takes time and care, so we recommend starting your Harvey Mudd supplement well before the application deadline. Below, we’ll look at both of the Harvey Mudd essay prompts in greater detail. Let’s begin with the “Why Harvey Mudd essay.”

How do I write a Harvey Mudd College essay?

Prompt 1: Why Harvey Mudd Essay

Writing the Harvey Mudd supplement starts with looking at the Harvey Mudd essay prompts to see what each of them asks for. Remember that you will write two Harvey Mudd essays in order to complete the Harvey Mudd supplement. Let’s look at the first prompt:

What influenced you to apply to Harvey Mudd College? What about the HMC curriculum and community appeals to you? (500 words max.)

Before starting to write your “why Harvey Mudd essay,” reflect on the reasons why Harvey Mudd made your list in the first place. Even if Harvey Mudd is not your first choice school, the fact that you are applying means that there are qualities about the school that appeal to you. Take some time to list a few of those qualities. 

Once you have a list of ideas for the why Harvey Mudd essay, narrow it down to the most important subjects. These represent your core reasons for applying to Harvey Mudd. Think about the features that separate Harvey Mudd from similar liberal arts schools on your list. Ideally, you should focus on 2-4 key concepts instead of trying to cover every detail. This will give your essay more depth.

Showcase your knowledge

The most effective why Harvey Mudd essay will showcase your knowledge of the school and its programs. The admissions team wants to see that you are invested in Harvey Mudd and have done your research. Your why Harvey Mudd essay should include specific details about the school that interest you. There are many ways to find this information. These might include visiting the school website, taking a campus tour, or reaching out to a current student or staff member.

As you research, think about what aspects of campus life you would like to take advantage of. Then, tailor your searches accordingly. For example, if you know you want to study English, look at the department website to see what courses match your passions. If you are interested in the outdoors, check out the student organizations and see which ones engage in those activities. The more you can reference specific names (whether courses, professors, or organizations), the more interested you will appear to the admissions team.

In your Harvey Mudd supplement, avoid vague statements or extra information that does not relate to your personal interests. For example, many applicants may wish to cite the California climate in their “why Harvey Mudd essay.” However, there are many other colleges in areas with nice weather. So, this reason does not explain why you chose Harvey Mudd over other options. With this in mind, make sure your reasoning reflects your specific interests. Focus on what Harvey Mudd offers that you can’t get at other schools. 

Begin writing

Once you have listed your reasons for applying, you are ready to start writing your “why Harvey Mudd” essay. As you do, try to include stories that describe how you have connected with the school. For example, if you attended an admissions session or took a tour where you had a memorable experience, write about it here! Including these details in your why Harvey Mudd essay lets the admissions team know that you have taken the time to experience life on campus. This shows them that you understand what it means to be a student at Harvey Mudd.

Another strategy for tackling the “Why Harvey Mudd” essay is to imagine yourself as a student and describe how you might get involved on campus. The admissions committee wants to admit students who care deeply about their interests and will pursue them at Harvey Mudd. For example, don’t be afraid to declare your interest in an engineering major (if that is your genuine desire) and then explain how you would like to do research with a specific professor in that department. The more specific and clear you can be about your goals, the better your essay will be.

“Why Harvey Mudd” Essay Prompt – Key Questions:

  • Does this why Harvey Mudd essay show evidence of research?
  • In your why Harvey Mudd essay, do you explain the specific reasons you want to attend the school beyond just the high Harvey Mudd college ranking?
  • Does this why Harvey Mudd essay identify why you would be a good fit for the school despite the low Harvey Mudd acceptance rate?
  • Does this why Harvey Mudd essay show how you would enrich campus life?

Prompt 2: Harvey Mudd Supplement Essay

The second Harvey Mudd essay is much shorter. However, it still requires care and focus. This second of the Harvey Mudd essay prompts reads:

Many students choose HMC because they don’t want to give up their interests in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts – or HSA as we call it at HMC. Briefly describe what you’d like to learn about in your dream HSA class. (100 words max)

In order to answer this question, you need to have an idea of what your academic interests are! Think about your favorite subjects at school and brainstorm a broad list of topics. Then, try to narrow down to more specific areas within your chosen subjects. Finally, keep in mind that this question specifically asks about the humanities, social sciences, and arts. Take a look at what these fields mean at Harvey Mudd. This will help you discuss your interests more clearly and align them with Harvey Mudd’s programs.

Be specific

As with the previous Harvey Mudd essay prompts, it helps to be as specific as you can when talking about your academic passions. Instead of saying you would want to learn American History, talk about a specific figure or time period you want to study. We encourage bringing two or more subjects together, so don’t feel like you have to stay within one field!

You do not have many words to write this Harvey Mudd essay, so get straight to the point. Use the first few sentences to describe what topics your class would include. Then, talk about why those subjects pique your interest. Your Harvey Mudd supplement should help the admissions team understand your background, so make sure to provide context for your interests.

Finally, don’t be afraid to let your passion show in your writing. This Harvey Mudd essay prompt helps the admissions committee see your enthusiasm for learning. Students who show clear interest in their classes are not only more likely to be accepted but also more likely to enjoy their college experience. 

Harvey Mudd Essay Prompts – Key Questions:

  • Does this Harvey Mudd essay focus on specific themes, not just general subjects?
  • Does this Harvey Mudd essay show understanding of the Humanities and what they value?
  • In your Harvey Mudd essay, do you show your passion for learning?
  • Does this Harvey Mudd essay explain why you are interested in the topics you chose?

Harvey Mudd Essay Prompts – Final Thoughts:

Because the Harvey Mudd acceptance rate is so low, make sure your Harvey Mudd supplement stands out. The Harvey Mudd essay prompts give you the chance to show your creativity, academic passion, and interest in attending the school. The Harvey Mudd college ranking is high, which means many applicants are drawn to apply. But don’t let the pressure of the Harvey Mudd acceptance rate discourage you. A standout Harvey Mudd supplement can significantly increase your chances of acceptance.

Preparation and reflection are key to answering the Harvey Mudd essay prompts in the most effective way possible. So, think about what you want from your college experience and why Harvey Mudd is the place for you. And don’t hesitate to get a friend or mentor to help revise your essay. Sometimes a second pair of eyes helps you see improvements that you may have missed.

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