Emory’s 11% acceptance rate for the Class of 2026 came after they received a record-setting number of applications last year. Whether applying to Emory College, Oxford College, or both, applicants to this prestigious Atlanta-based research university face an epically challenging admissions process ahead. Emory is a rare school where a 1500ish SAT and 3.9 GPA is often necessary, but not sufficient for admission. In addition, application components like the Emory supplemental essays need to be exceptionally well done.

(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 Essay 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 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, hands-on research programs, or any other aspects of your desired major that appeals most to you. The more specific, the better.

Emory Essay Prompt 2 – Getting to Know You

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

In the university’s own words, “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,  speak about a time when you spoke up for a peer in a moment of need. Alternatively, you could describe an instance when you became involved in a larger cause or movement. This could be in the realm of 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 supplement.

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” has multiple interpretations. It could refer to a famous event that is included in your average history textbook. However, it could also mean something more personal to your family, like when your great-grandmother immigrated to California in 1917. Often, when a student selects 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. Yet, 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 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.” With this mind, 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. Doing so may demonstrate 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.

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, 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 you connect so deeply with the music and lyrics.

How important are the Emory supplemental essays?

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

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Emory supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).