Emory’s 13% acceptance rate for the Class of 2025 is expected to fall even lower this year, after the school received a record-setting number of applications for the Class of 2026. Whether applying to Emory College, Oxford College, or both, applicants to this prestigious Atlanta-based research university face an epically challenging admissions process ahead. This is one of those rare schools where possessing a 1500ish SAT and a 3.9 unweighted GPA is often necessary, but not sufficient for admission. Other elements of application–including the essays–need to be exceptionally well done to earn a legitimate chance at acceptance.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Emory? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into Emory University: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

The good news is that this school does ultimately admit over 4,300 students each year. If you have the academic chops, then getting into Emory is an achievable goal. However, you’ll need to make sure that you use the two supplemental essays to showcase your writing ability by generating powerful and detail-rich essays that will stand out to an admissions officer.

Emory University Prompt 1 – Academic Interests

What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college? (200 words)

We all have a story of what drives us to pursue a certain academic pathway and career. How did your interest initially develop? What was the spark? How have you nurtured this passion and how has it evolved over time? If you desire to go into engineering, for example, use this as a chance to talk about everything from your childhood fascination with how things work to your participation in an award-winning robotics program at your high school. Share a compelling (and, of course, true!) narrative about how your love of your future area of study has blossomed to its present levels.

This essay should show evidence of intense hunger for knowledge that extends well outside of the classroom. How do you learn about your favorite subjects? What books have you read on the subject? Which podcasts have you listened to? What museums have you visited?

You should also tie your passions into specific academic opportunities at Emory including courses, professors, hand-on research programs, or any other aspects of your desired major that appeals most to you. The more specific, the better.

Emory University Prompt 2 – Getting to Know You

In addition, answer one of the following questions.  Your response should be no more than 150 words.

Before you select which prompt is the best fit for you, take Emory’s advice at face value: “We encourage you to be thoughtful in your responses and not stress about what the ‘right answer’ might be, as there really isn’t one.”

a) Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.

Some students may have more direct experiences related to cultural awareness than others, but—no matter your background—this is an opportunity to demonstrate that you care about justice and fairness in your local community as well as the global community. If applicable, you can speak about a time when you spoke up for a peer in a moment of need or, alternatively, an instance when you got involved in a larger cause or movement (politics, activism, or volunteer work).

If you don’t happen to have a deeply personal story to tell in this realm, you’ll probably want to select a different prompt. While there’s nothing wrong with simply articulating your basic beliefs in the values of inclusion, equity, tolerance, and diversity, it doesn’t necessarily make for the most compelling essay, particularly when the school is asking for a specific “experience”.

b) When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?

This is very similar to Common App prompt #3 which reads “Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?” Obviously, if you answered that question in your main Common App, you shouldn’t select this similarly-themed one in the Emory supplemental section.

In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Your response to this essay can illustrate that you are truth-seeker, a mature thinker, and not someone comfortable with stubbornly resting on a deeply-ingrained ideological worldview. The issue could be one with global consequences or a personal/family issue between you and another individual. What matters is that you communicate your open-mindedness and capacity for growth.

c) If you could witness a historic event (past, present or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why?

Keep in mind that “historical” could refer to a famous event that is included in your average history textbook or something more personal to your family, like when your great-grandmother immigrated to California in 1917. Many times, if students select a moment in world history, it is not one that is universally known in endless detail. Unless you are picking something as well known as MLK’s “I have a Dream Speech” or the 1969 Moon landing, make sure to give the reader some level of context about the actual event in addition to your commentary about why that moment is special to you. No need to get uber-obscure with your answer, but the most needle-moving answers are generally not usually based on any of the most famous events in human history that you’ve known about since elementary school.

d) Share about a time when you were awestruck.

At risk of sounding like the start of every high school graduation speech ever, let’s lead off with a “Webster’s dictionary defines…” statement. Ready? Webster’s defines “awe” as “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.” So, what does it mean to be filled with awe?

People commonly use awestruck in all types of contexts—to describe the wonders of the natural world, the vastness of space, a breathtaking performance in a sporting event, or the stunning indescribable visual beauty of a person, place, or thing. Sharing a moment that fills you with awe can be a cool way to connect with an admissions officer, demonstrating vulnerability, sensitivity, and a thoughtful approach to life. This may be tangentially related to your field of study or it may be a stand-alone moment in time that was powerful to you.

e) Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?

What is your favorite book/character? Why do you identify with that book/character? Is it the protagonist’s tenacity, empathy, strong will, sense of justice, big heart, humor, resilience, uncompromising integrity, loyalty, self-awareness, or courage? Use the 150 available words to explain that powerful connection you feel to that character, book, or monologue. If you go the song route, explain why the lyrics connect with you so deeply that they seem “made for you”?

How important are the essays at Emory University

Emory views six factors as being “very important” to their applicant evaluation process: the rigor of one’s coursework, the GPA earned, recommendations, character/personal qualities, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability. The essays are considered “important” alongside standardized test scores and volunteer work.

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