Personal Essay and Short Answer Prompts

Personal essay prompts.

To help us get to know you in the application review process, you are required to submit a personal essay. For insight and advice about how to approach writing your personal essay, see our Expert Advice page. 

  • Common Application first-year essay prompts
  • Common App transfer essay prompt: Please provide a personal essay that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.
  • Coalition, powered by Scoir first-year and transfer essay prompts

Short Answer Question

For both first-year and transfer applicants, we ask you to complete a short answer essay (approximately 250 words) based on one of two prompts. 

  • Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?
  • Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.

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College Essays

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Vanderbilt is one of the United States' highest-ranked colleges. With an acceptance rate of just 7 percent, it's ranked as extremely competitive . It's no surprise—Vanderbilt is known for having a wealth of appealing programs, including its school of medicine, the Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and Blair School of Music.

Because it's extremely competitive, you'll need to set yourself apart as a prospective student . That doesn't mean just your grades and impressive extracurriculars; it also means writing a killer essay to go along with your application.

In this guide, we'll tell you everything you need to know about Vanderbilt's supplemental essay, including some ideal topics, some pitfalls to avoid, and even some analysis of past Vanderbilt essays that have worked.

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The Vanderbilt Supplement Basics

Vanderbilt's application is fairly straightforward. They accept multiple application formats, including both the Common and Coalition Applications, as well as Questbridge.

What application you use is up to you. There are many reasons to choose one or the other , but regardless of which application you pick, you'll still be writing just one supplemental essay prompt from Vanderbilt. Choose whichever application works best for you.

In addition to the essays required for your Common, Coalition, or Questbridge Application, Vanderbilt requires one supplemental essay. There are two promp ts to choose from; you’ll select one to respond to in a short answer essay of no more than 250 words.

However, having just one supplemental essay means that you'll need to put a lot of attention into making your essay as good as it can be. You only have one chance to prove yourself in your essay, so make it count!

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What Are the Vanderbilt Supplement Essay Prompts?

Vanderbilt has two prompts for their supplemental essay. You’ll be asked to select one and respond to it in 250 words or less . The prompts are as follows: 

Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you? Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.

Each prompt asks you to describe and reflect on a different aspect of your experiences and values, so we’ll break down how to answer them individually.

Supplemental Prompt #1: Diversity

Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?

In this prompt, Vanderbilt is asking you to describe how you interact with and learn from people who are different from yourself . College campuses are diverse communities filled with people of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, and religious and political beliefs. This essay is your chance to show Vanderbilt that you’re the kind of student who’s open to learning from and with people from many different backgrounds–and that you’ll be kind and compassionate in the process. 

To answer this question, think of a specific conversation (or series of conversations) you’ve had with a person or group who expressed views that are different from your own. You’ll want to tell a compelling story about the experience, so try to remember details like how the conversation started, why the people involved felt invested in the conversation, what the outcome was, and, most importantly, how you were influenced by the conversation. 

Rather than giving a play-by-play, “they said/I said” of the conversation, focus on describing how you and the other people involved expressed yourselves and treated each other . Did you have a shouting match in the hallway at school, then apologize later because you realized that yelling isn’t a good way to express your views? Did you have a heartfelt, tearful conversation wherein you finally came to understand someone you’ve been at odds with for years? And most important of all, how did you come to these realizations, and how have they affected who you are and how you treat people who are different from you today? 

Remember to keep your essay focused on the people involved in the conversation , how you treated each other, and how you were affected by the interaction . This essay isn’t the place to harp on how you were right and you totally owned your opponent with your awesome debate skills. Instead, Vanderbilt wants to see that you can engage civilly and empathetically with people who are different from you –and that you’re open to learning new things from others. After all, learning and growing with people from different backgrounds is a key part of the college experience. 

Supplemental Prompt #2: Extracurricular Activities

Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.

The question is straightforward—Vanderbilt is asking you to discuss one of your extracurriculars in depth. This doesn't just demonstrate to the admissions office that you're dedicated to your interest, but also that you have passions outside of school. Vanderbilt wants to know that you'll bring something besides academics to campus, and this is the space to tell them about it.

Keep in mind that Vanderbilt isn't looking for a list of activities or just a short discussion of one of your extracurriculars. They specifically ask for one, but you have 250 words to cover—which means you should spend some time unpacking not just the activity itself, but why you do it and why it matters to you. Be thoughtful; really think about your activities and why you do them beyond that they look good on your college application.

Don't just pick the extracurricular activity that you think Vanderbilt would want to hear about. If you're a champion Mathlete but you really feel fulfilled when you're making short films with your friends over the weekend, you should be writing about the short films. If your short film was played at a local film festival but you find more meaning in the time you spend knitting, write about knitting!

It's not about being impressive here. Plenty of other applicants will be discussing their charity work or science team victories. Use this space to discuss yourself, and why the things you do matter to you. If the most impressive thing in your repertoire and the thing that's most personally meaningful line up, great! But don't feel like you can only write about things like academic success, leadership roles, or entrepreneurship. Write about what's meaningful to you and Vanderbilt will see your personality—which is really what they're looking for—shine through.

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Vanderbilt Essays That Worked: Analysis

To give you a sense of what an effective Vanderbilt supplemental essay looks like, we tracked down an example of a successful Vanderbilt essay.

Keep in mind that this is a response to an older prompt. However, it still gives you a good idea of what admissions counselors are looking for in a thoughtful response. Consider this essay from an admitted Vanderbilt student:

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150-400 words). While all my extracurricular activities have helped me shape my values, there is one in particular I have enjoyed the most: picking tangerines from my grandmother’s orchard. Picking tangerines was often to me simply a burden. I had to wake up at six every Saturday and drive fifty miles to help my grandmother reap good tangerines. On the whole ride I would think to myself: I would rather be reading poetry and ponder upon ways to change the world. As far as I was concerned, reaping tangerines was not going to help me do so. The orchard belonged to my grandmother, who to save money had to “hire” me and my mom. There was no wage; the only working benefit was being able to taste a few fresh tangerines for free. At age thirteen, such benefit was enough. At seventeen, I was not so sure if it was. Working at the orchard usually involved scratches, itching, worms, climbing up the ladder, getting hurt, and demanding, long hours of physical labor. But as I worked through the years with tangerines, I began to recognize all the beauty my labor had. Everything in the orchard began telling their own stories. A tiny, pruned tree took pride in its small fruition, all the while a chunky tree demanded attention for its crooked children. Their offspring–tangerines–told by their taste who their trees were; some of them edgy, some of them warm, and some of them implicitly angry. Bugs would tell me which tree needs my help. No tree is without a hope. Within a few days of assistance, all the trees fought back those tiny enemies and always claimed victory. They became ever more proud, stronger, and complete. Enemies came back; but this time the trees didn’t need my help. Some tangerines would go bad–in extreme cases would give up under negligence. We grieve. But we simply carry on. We learn to proceed more carefully, and we let go. The orchard is for me a story of life–human life. It makes all the complications of our lives more simple, easier to grasp, and more available at my tongue, hands and feet. So as of right now, my Saturday is always booked for the orchard. I hope by next year this time around, however, my orchard will be at Vanderbilt.

This essay was successful--the applicant was accepted at Vanderbilt! The fact that it was successful shows you that it contains features that Vanderbilt likes to see.

The writer of this essay discusses the unconventional “education” they received while working in their grandmother’s tangerine orchard. This topic is striking because it’s an extracurricular/work experience that few other applicants have likely had. The applicant’s creative interpretation of “extracurricular activities or work experience” from the prompt makes their essay stand out from others that discuss more common experiences.

Not everybody had this same experience, but that doesn't mean that you can't use some of the same ideas in your own work. The writer draws a clear line between their experience working the orchard and the person they are now—you could do a similar thing by connecting the person you are with the activity you've chosen to write about. What have you learned about yourself because of what you do?

The writer is also able to connect what they learned through working the orchard to the kind of student they will be at Vanderbilt. By drawing an analogy between the tangerine trees and the challenges we go through in life, the applicant conveys their core values. More importantly, they write about where those values come from—something you could easily do by referencing the importance of the activity you choose.

What's most important to take away from this essay is the way that the writer connects the experience of working the orchard to the person they became. No matter what your education was or what activity you choose to write about, you can do a similar thing in your own essay!

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5 Key Tips for Writing Your Vanderbilt Essay

Vanderbilt is a prestigious school, but there are some essay standards that hold true no matter where you're applying . Follow these steps to write an essay that's sure to impress!

#1: Start Writing

Starting is the step that sounds the easiest, but it's actually the hardest. No matter what you have to do to start writing, whether it's freewriting, brainstorming, or just pumping out a first draft as fast as you can, you need to do it. At this point, don't worry about quality or being impressive. Just get words down on paper so that you can edit them into shape later— if you spend too much time worrying about starting with a perfect beginning, you'll never make it past that point.

Step two is when you can start worrying about quality. Read your essay aloud and see if you can spot problems with word choice and flow. If you're struggling to read it, change words and add punctuation as necessary.

Also think about your overall point. Does it make sense? Are you able to trace your logic all the way through without a problem? If not, find ways to connect your thoughts from beginning to end.

Be thorough in cutting extraneous words. 250 words isn't a lot, and you'll want to make sure you're making your essay count by picking vibrant, active verbs and clear language. Don't worry about being flowery or busting out the thesaurus, but do be sure that your wording doesn't feel tired or dull.

#3: Seek Feedback

One of the best ways to find holes in your logic or other issues in your essay is to get others to give you feedback. Find people who want to see you succeed, but preferably not those who aren't going to give you criticism if you need it. Teachers and other mentors are a good choice, if they're available.

Don't feel like you have to use every piece of feedback you receive, but do consider all of it. Your essay should always be your own work, so try to rephrase suggestions in your own words or rewrite confusing passages how you would write them, not how others suggest.

#4: Take a Break

With deadlines looming and other essays to write, it may be tempting to just rush through after getting feedback and fix everything. But take some time away from your essay, focusing on other college application duties or on other things entirely. Anywhere from a couple days to weeks to months can be good for improving your essay, though do leave yourself time to revise.

Taking a break lets your mind forget what you've already written, so that when you come back to revise you do so with fresh eyes. This way, you can see holes in your logic or places where your language isn't as tight as it could be. You'll never be able to completely shed your attachment to your essay, but spending some time away from it can give you a whole new outlook on your work!

Now that you've had some time away and you have notes to incorporate, it's time to revise. Revision can be something you do multiple times, combing through your essay for errors and places to strengthen it, but eventually you are going to have to turn it in. Don't get caught up in perfection—focus on making your essay the best you can. Check it for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors to be sure it's clean and easy to read, and send it off!

What's Next?

Starting your essay is often the hardest part. If you're unsure where to begin, check out this guide to starting a college essay perfectly , and don't be afraid to just dive right in!

A good essay is just one part of a successful Vanderbilt application . If you want to really wow the admissions office, be sure your grades and test scores are up to snuff, too!

Vanderbilt University may not be an Ivy League school, but that doesn't mean your application can't be Ivy League-ready. Use these tips for getting into Harvard to shape your college application, and you'll have no problem getting into any school you choose!

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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supplemental essays vanderbilt

How To Write The Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay + Examples

Picutre of a girl in black dress sitting at a picnic bench writing her Vanderbilt supplemental essay

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/25/24

If you need help writing the Vanderbilt supplemental essay, read this guide to learn everything you need to know about it, including essay prompts and examples! 

You may feel pressured before applying because of Vanderbilt’s competitive applicant pool. Don’t worry; everyone must start somewhere. If you need more assistance, read our comprehensive guide to getting into Vanderbilt University . 

As you start building your college list , you must decide what you look for in a school. You must balance the college application process well and spend enough time on each school. If Vanderbilt is on your college list, read this article to learn how to write the Vanderbilt supplemental essay. 

We will break down the question, share tips on answering the prompts, and provide examples of successful essays.

Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essay Prompts 2023-2024

In addition to the essay requirements for the Common, Coalition, and QuestBridge Apps, Vanderbilt has one required supplemental essay. Having to write one essay has its benefits and disadvantages. You can focus on your response and make it as excellent as possible. However, you may prefer to have more options to consider before writing.

The following prompts can be found on the Vanderbilt admissions page .

“Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?”

“Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.”

Both of these supplemental essay prompts have a 250-word limit. Make sure you choose the essay prompts you know you can answer well! 

How to Write Each Essay Prompt For Vanderbilt University

Female student sitting in bed typing on laptop

Here, we’ll cover how to write each essay prompt for Vanderbilt University. 

How to Write Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essay #1 + Analysis and Tips

Vanderbilt University prompt #1 : “Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?” 

Analysis of prompt #1 : This prompt wants you to reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from yours. The prompt is looking at how you handle discussions with people with different viewpoints. 

This prompt can also be considered a diversity essay, which Vanderbilt includes because the school values all walks of life. 

Here are some tips to help you write this prompt:

1. Tip #1: Choose a Conversation : To choose the best conversation to talk about in your essay, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my beliefs and values?
  • How do others respond to these beliefs?
  • What is one belief I have that others contest or oppose?
  • How has this belief changed over time?
  • Has anyone influenced this belief? 
  • What points of the opposition can I agree with?
  • Why is it important to discuss differing views on things?

Remember, you aren’t simply relaying a conversation with a friend to the committee. You’re explaining how you respond to opposing views, demonstrate respect for differences, and, most importantly, how you grow because of them! 

2. Tip #2: Identify the Different Viewpoints : Clearly explain the contrasting viewpoints you encountered. Highlight the key differences between the viewpoints without judgment. You'll want to convey your ability to engage with diverse perspectives and how those interactions have shaped your thinking.

3. Tip #3: Highlight What You Learned : Explore how the conversation expanded your understanding of the topic. Discuss any new information or perspectives that you gained. Vanderbilt is looking to see if you’re willing to learn from opposing views, so if you learned anything from the conversation, make sure to add it! 

How to Write Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essay #2 + Analysis and Tips

Vanderbilt University prompt #2 : “Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.”

Analysis of prompt #2 : This essay asks you to talk about one of your extracurriculars, so it should be an activity or experience that matters the most to you. Vanderbilt values extracurricular activity and emphasizes students having a balance when it comes to their academics. 

1 . Tip #1: Choose an Extracurricular : Start with a self-reflection and brainstorming session instead. Put together a list of everything you do outside of your schoolwork, even if it’s not with a formal club or job. It may be an initiative you started, a volunteering experience, or an internship. 

Your response should not list your extracurriculars since you have already done that in another part of your application.

2. Tip #2: Highlight Transferable Skills : Identify and highlight the skills you gained from the experience that are transferable to both academic and social settings. This could include teamwork, leadership, communication, or organizational skills.

3. Tip #3: Discuss Impact on Academic Performance : Explain how participating in the extracurricular activity or work experience positively impacted your academic performance. This could be through improved focus, discipline, or understanding of your learning style.

Examples of Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essays That Worked

Below, you’ll find some Vanderbilt University supplemental essays written by successful applicants who were admitted to the school! Let’s look at each one and discuss what worked about it.

Sample Essay #1

Prompt : “Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.”

“I never would’ve thought joining my school’s DECA chapter would catalyze my entrepreneurial aspirations. Yet, three years later and now a [POSITION] of said DECA chapter, I’ve channeled this ever-growing tenacity toward not only being a fierce competitor, but also a fierce leader. Aside from defining my high school experience, DECA has helped me find my place in school and given me the bigger-picture purpose necessary to help me develop into who I want to be, who I’ve already been all along: an entrepreneur. 
As a freshman, I was daunted by the task of producing a business proposal that’d cover all aspects of a business, including financial statements I’d never even heard of before. However, I soon found myself thriving by taking on the role of a potential franchisee, working on each section of my business proposal separately and putting them together to watch my business grow on paper, like pieces of a puzzle fitting into place. Embroiled in the encapsulating realm of entrepreneurship, I was inspired by my first year in DECA to immerse myself in the world of business, seeking to involve myself in additional academic and real-world business-esque opportunities and experiences. 
Within the chapter, I’ve made strides as an officer and now a [POSITION] to increase our member engagement and provide resources for members to help guide them through their business proposal construction process. Recently, tasked with the responsibility of building a chapter website, I’ve channeled my problem-solving and marketing skills gleaned from DECA into constructing an innovative platform that communicates our chapter’s mission, conveys important dates for meetings and competitions, displays samples of officers’ past proposals, as well as highlights Great Neck North DECA alumni. 
With each new year, each new business proposal thrusts me into a new level of competition: from qualifying for the state competition as a timid freshman to qualifying for the international competition during my sophomore year to confidently presenting and defending my most recent business proposal as a competitor in the final round at the international competition during my junior year. Outside of competition, each new year in DECA has thrust me into a new level of exploration, personal growth, and mentorship as I continue to absorb as much business-related knowledge as possible while savoring my time in DECA as both a leader and a competitor, ultimately allowing me to flourish as both a student and a future entrepreneur.”

Why Essay #1 Worked

This is a great essay because the writer captures their feelings about joining DECA and how much it has impacted them. The essay also illustrates the DECA chapter’s mission, which helps showcase that the writer believes in it. 

Sample Essay #2

“Driving intoxicated in the waning hours of the night, he recklessly swerves in and out of lanes until he finally loses control and rams his car into a tree. Save for a few cuts and bruises, he escapes unscathed. His sister’s lifeless body is discovered the morning after the crime–or was it a crime? The light knock of the gavel summons the courtroom to its feet; parents, teachers, coaches, spectators and competitors all stand as the single hour that months were spent preparing for commences.
Having not placed in the regional tournament in a decade, Mock Trial was regarded as little more than a team just barely keeping its head above water, far past its glory years when I first joined the school’s organization. My admiration for the club stretched far beyond simply checking my name off as a member–being content with mediocrity would have no place as long as I was on the team. And so to prevent it from disappearing into oblivion, I began with myself, spending hours learning, polishing and perfecting the skills necessary to succeed. With this, not only did I grow tremendously as an individual and a competitor, but I also gained the respect and admiration of my teammates, earning a leadership role.
Revamping the way Mock Trial operated quickly became a full time job. But, within a year, we were able to secure a spot in the top three of the regional tournament and lift the organization back into prominence. So when the trial starts, have no doubt that the top is the only place we aim. ‘Your honor, opposing counsel, and members of the jury….’ Show time.”

Why Essay #2 Worked

This essay immediately grabs your attention with a detailed reenactment of a crime scene that is a mock trial tournament. The student shows us what this extracurricular means and how they have grown alongside it. They are specific in their accomplishments within the activity, which is a great way to leave a lasting impression . 

Get More Sample Essays Here!

Examining successful supplemental essays is an excellent method for uncovering effective strategies. Explore numerous samples in our comprehensive college essay database below to discover a wide range of examples!

Do you still have questions about the Vanderbilt supplemental essays? Below, we have frequently asked questions. 

1. What Is Vanderbilt University’s Acceptance Rate? 

Vanderbilt’s acceptance rate is 5.1% . Out of the 41,336 applicants in the 2024 cycle, only 1,512 were admitted. 

2. How Is the Admissions Process for Vanderbilt University? 

Vanderbilt uses a holistic admissions process , meaning one element does not make or break an application. The school considers all student evaluation factors, from test scores and grades to extracurricular activities and leadership roles. 

3. What Kinds of Applications Can I Submit for Vanderbilt? 

You can apply for Vanderbilt using the Common App, Coalition App, and QuestBridge program. Choose the right application system for you, as Vanderbilt has no preference. Carefully follow the instructions on their respective site. 

4. What Are the Other Application Requirements for Vanderbilt? 

Apart from the requirements of each application system, you must submit high school transcripts, a counselor's letter of recommendation, two teacher recommendations, and an application fee of $50. Fee waivers are available for qualified students, and standardized test scores are currently optional. 

5. Are There Any Other Supplemental Materials for First-Year Applicants? 

If you apply for Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, you must complete a separate application besides the Coalition or Common App. You must also submit at least one artistic recommendation, a headshot, a music resume, a repertoire list, and a pre-screening video. You can find more details on the Blair Admissions Page .

Final Thoughts 

The Vanderbilt supplemental essay asks you to focus on an experience with opposing views or an extracurricular activity that matters to you, whether it be a school club, job, internship, or volunteer experience. 

Since you only have one prompt to show the admissions committee your story, be thoughtful in your response and choose a topic that highlights your values and goals.

Writing an excellent essay is only one part of your application, so follow our ultimate guide on applying to Vanderbilt. Remember, the best essay is one where you can proudly share a meaningful conversation or activity that impacted your perspective for the better. 

Focus on what you want to show the admissions committee, not what you think the committee wants to read. You will craft a stellar essay if you draw on your unique experiences.

Access 190+ sample college essays here

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How to Ace the 2023-2024 Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay

supplemental essays vanderbilt

Ginny Howey is a former content writer at Scholarships360. Ginny graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2022 with a degree in Media and Journalism (Advertising/PR focus) and minors in Entrepreneurship and Spanish. Ginny’s professional experience includes two summers as a writer intern at global creative consultancy BCG BrightHouse. More recently, Ginny worked as a content marketing intern for Durham-based software engineering bootcamp Momentum, where she gained SEO skills. She has also written freelance articles on emerging tech for A.I. startup Resultid.

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supplemental essays vanderbilt

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

supplemental essays vanderbilt

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Ace the 2023-2024 Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay

Vanderbilt University is a very competitive private school with a 7% acceptance rate . If you hope to gain acceptance into this top-tier school, you must have an exceptional application. Do not underestimate the importance of a stand-out Vanderbilt supplemental essay!

Let’s break down Vanderbilt’s prompt and how to craft a response that’s sure to impress. 

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

What to expect from the Vanderbilt supplemental essay prompt

Vanderbilt University expects applicants to respond to one personal essay prompt and respond to one short answer question. However, do not worry because you actually only need to write one response for Vanderbilt! The personal essay they require of students is the Common Application or Coalition personal essay so there is no need to write anything additional for Vanderbilt’s personal essay requirement. 

There are two short answer questions you can choose from and only one needs to be answered. Regardless of which essay choice you choose, they need to be answered in approximately 250 words . 

Short answer choice #1

“Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you? (250 words)”

Try and think of a time in which someone had a different perspective on a topic you discussed or argued. Write about this conversation by detailing a narrative of what exactly the conversation was about. Describe your thoughts and feelings about the conversation and how it was resolved (if it was!). 

It does not have to be a life-changing argument about a controversial topic. Rather, it can be just a discussion in which someone has expressed viewpoints that differ from your own. 

Be careful not to focus too much on the negatives of this experience such as negative emotions towards the other person or group but rather you should discuss your feelings objectively. 

Once you have described this conversation and the admissions officer now has context, it is important to focus on how you dealt with this conversation and what you learned from it. Describe your emotions during this conversation and what you might have done differently if given the opportunity. 

Ultimately, Vanderbilt doesn’t want to hear you attack and berate someone for their differing perspective, rather they want to see that future Vanderbilt students understand that everyone has diverse experiences and perspectives. Use this essay as an opportunity to highlight how you are able to learn from and work with others even if they have different beliefs. Additionally, describe how you would use what you have learned from this experience to better your time at Vanderbilt. 

Questions to consider: 

  • How did this conversation impact how you will communicate with others in the future? 
  • What did you learn from this experience? 
  • What will you do differently at Vanderbilt? 

Short answer choice #2

“Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you. (250 words)”

Unlike some schools’ intimidatingly broad prompts, this is as straightforward as it gets. Vanderbilt wants you to describe a particularly meaningful involvement you’ve had. However, it can be tricky when more than one engagement comes to mind. 

A good way to start is by looking at the Activities section on your Common Application. Highlight the experiences that have been most impactful to you. Jot down what you enjoy about each one and what they’ve taught you. Describe any anecdotes that you associate with them. Be sure to highlight progression throughout your participation in this activity, such as being elected to a leadership position. 

Since this is the only supplemental you will be responding to, be strategic with which activity you choose. If your intended major is computer science, it may be wise to discuss a related experience. You could describe the robotics club you were a member of in high school. It would be a great time to flex any awards you received at a robotics competition, too. 

On the other hand, you may want to showcase a different side of your personality that speaks more about your character. For example, discussing a volunteer experience that inspired a cause you now champion would also be a great avenue. 

Above all, pick an activity that is special to you, not what you think admissions wants to hear. Writing what you find important about your background will come across sincerely and ensure your voice can shine through. 

After you have chosen the perfect activity or work experience to write about, make sure you focus on how it has influenced you. Has this activity become a staple in your life? Do you hope to pursue this activity at Vanderbilt? Has this experience helped you realize what you want to do in your life? 

Ultimately make sure you are detailing an extracurricular activity or work experience that means something great to you and has influenced you in any way. 

Questions to consider:  

  • Did you hold a job that solidified why you want to pursue your intended career path? 
  • Has one of your hobbies taught you a new skill you cherish? Or allowed you to find community? 
  • What has devoting much of your K-12 life to playing a sport instilled in you?

Next steps for students

After our deep-dive on the Vanderbilt supplemental, we hope your ideas are flowing. Get your thoughts out and don’t be afraid of a rough first draft. You can revise for writing quality and word count later, so get started!

Additional resources

As you apply to colleges, there are a lot of decisions to make in order to ensure you end up at the right school for you. Luckily, we can help you make them! Check out our guide on what looks good on college applications , how many schools to apply to , how to find safety, reach, and match schools , and how to schedule college visits . We can also help you fill out the Common App Additional Information Section and offer you an inside view of what happens inside an admissions office .

Finally, once you get your admissions decisions back, we can help you narrow down your choices. Try out our guide to making a college comparison spreadsheet , how to interpret your financial aid award letters , and how to appeal for more financial aid . We can also help clarify the differences between public and private schools and offer you some insight into making your final choice of a college . Good luck on your educational journey, and don’t forget to apply for all the scholarships you are eligible for!

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A Strong Vanderbilt Essay Example from an Accepted Student

Consistently ranked as one of the best schools in the nation, Vanderbilt University is world-renowned for exceptional academics. A top-tier reputation leads to a highly selective admissions process, so to get into Vanderbilt, you need more than just strong grades and test scores—you need stellar essays that set you apart from other academically excellent applicants.

In this post, we will share a real essay submitted by an accepted Vanderbilt student. We will go over what this essay did well, and where there is room for improvement.

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 

Read our Vanderbilt essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.

Essay Example – The Power of Story

At an intersection in Oakwood, an elderly Asian man walks on the sidewalk. Behind him, a man in a black hoodie follows. Without warning, the man in the black hoodie pushes the Asian man to the ground, his face landing flat against the sidewalk, motionless.

Pausing the video, I watch my friends’ faces flicker between confusion, anger, and hurt. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes became personally painful for my Asian American friends. We encountered news of elderly Asian Americans violently thrashed and berated with slurs. But beyond our circle, conversations about these occurrences were absent. And despite the South Asian community being relatively safe from these crimes, I shared the sobs of my friends. 

A few years ago, I joined a nonprofit that empowers minorities to be civically engaged citizens. Engaging with this group of passionate individuals, I was inspired by their unrelenting dedication to improving others’ lives through community-building.

Eager to foster solidarity among Reno’s AAPI community in light of these tragedies, we pioneered a march against hate, where we invited student speakers to share their stories of racial discrimination. Listening to my peers’ journeys, from finding confidence as an immigrant to navigating implicit bias in the classroom, I became captivated by the power of story. 

Bonding over the commonality in our journeys and in our activism, I yearn to persist in championing the use of dialogue to build community in the face of adversity at Vanderbilt.

What the Essay Did Well

This “Extracurricular Essay” does a great job of telling a story. The beginning draws the reader in by including details like “ an intersection in Oakwood ,” and “ a man in a black hoodie ,” to help us visualize the scene. In the next paragraph, we realize that we are watching this situation through the eyes of the student. By first providing readers with the terrible situation directly, the student arouses our own emotions, which allows us to immediately understand the student’s shock and anger once we realize we are actually in their shoes.

The second paragraph goes on to provide good background on the student’s personal connection to the situation, which allows readers to understand their motivation for engaging in the extracurriculars described in the third and fourth paragraphs. By showing us the pain their friends felt (“ I watch my friends’ faces flicker between confusion, anger, and hurt ”) and explaining that this issue was at the forefront of their mind, but ignored  by many others (“ But beyond our circle, conversations about these occurrences were absent ”), we get a tangible sense of the student’s connection to the issue.

Then, the essay shifts to discussing the student’s extracurricular activity. The point of this kind of essay is to help admissions officers see that you are involved in your activities to grow and learn  about the world, rather than pad your resume. Because the student took the time to explain their passion for AAPI activism and demonstrate their compassion for others in the previous paragraph, we can clearly see that this nonprofit is genuinely meaningful to them.

Finally, although this essay just asks about an extracurricular, this student was still able to infuse elements of their personality into the essay in the way they told it. From the details included, we know this student is compassionate, an activist, and values justice and diversity. Being able to show the reader all that without telling us these aspects of their personality outright makes for an engaging, informative essay.

What Could Be Improved

The biggest thing this essay needs to improve is the shift in focus from the cultural context of the first two paragraphs to the student’s involvement in the extracurricular itself. Right now, that transition is rather abrupt, so although the topics are related, the reader is left to tie them together on their own.

For example, while the detail in the introduction describing the instance of hate is captivating, in such a short essay, that space could be used much more wisely. A better hook would immediately place the reader in the extracurricular activity, possibly like this:

“ STOP ASIAN HATE. PROTECT ASIAN LIVES. I AM NOT INVISIBLE. Hundreds of cardboard signs blocked out the strong Reno sun, the feeling of change hanging in the air. My throat sore and mouth parched after hours of chanting, I couldn’t help but smile knowing that we made this march possible. ”

With this introduction placing the reader in the middle of the action (a technique called “in medias res”), the rest of the essay could then be spent providing more details about what the student did as a part of the nonprofit. They tell us they “ pioneered a march against hate, where we invited student speakers to share their stories of racial discrimination,” but a stronger extracurricular essay would delve into the specific role the student played in planning these events.

Similarly, rather than ending the third paragraph by just telling the reader that they became “ captivated by the power of story ” through listening to others, this student could have demonstrated how that power tangibly affected their own actions, by adding a sentence along the lines of: 

“ Inspired by the stories I had heard, I encouraged my friends to submit their own stories as opinion pieces to our school newspaper, while I created flyers for the march that included photos of myself as a child, to humanize our movement .” Notice how this version both shows us what the student did and provides more insight into their character.

With a word count this low, you need to understand exactly what the prompt is asking for, and make sure everything you say is helping provide that. Background context is important, but if the prompt is asking about your extracurriculars, most of the essay should be dedicated to your actual involvement in the extracurricular.

Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay

Do you want feedback on your Vanderbilt essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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Guide to the 2018-19 Northwestern University Supplemental Essay

Guide to the 2018-19 Northwestern University Supplemental Essay

Are you planning to apply to Northwestern University? The Founder and Chief Advisor of College Essay Advisors, Stacey Brook, is here to give you invaluable insight into Northwestern's supplemental essay prompt so you can take advantage of this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice.

Guide to the 2018-19 University of Michigan Essays

Guide to the 2018-19 University of Michigan Essays

Submitting your college application to the University of Michigan can be a real nail-biter. Michigan requires three supplemental essays. The Founder and Chief Advisor of College Essay Advisors, Stacey Brook, is here to give you invaluable insight into the prompts and the motivation behind them so you can take advantage of this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice.

How to Get Into UNC (With a Great Essay)

How to Get Into UNC (With a Great Essay)

UNC is well-known for being the first public university in the United States and a leader in innovative teaching strategies. The school is also known for receiving many college applications, which means it is crucial for applicants to differentiate themselves in their essays. Luckily for UNC hopefuls, the university gives students two additional supplemental prompts to respond to in order to set themselves apart from the sea of similarly qualified applicants and increase their chances of getting into UNC. College Essay Advisors Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to break down the UNC supplemental prompts so you know which essays will showcase your best attributes!

Guide to the 2017-2018 Duke University Supplemental Essays

Guide to the 2017-2018 Duke University Supplemental Essays

Submitting your college application to Duke University can be a real nail-biter. Although it's probably too late now to tweak your test scores or GPA, you can make sure that your college application essays will bring you admissions success! Duke requires one supplemental short answer and gives students the opportunity to respond to two optional prompts. The Founder and Chief Advisor of College Essay Advisors, Stacey Brook, is here to give you invaluable insight into the prompts and the motivation behind them so you can take advantage of this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice.

Guide to the 2017-2018 Harvard University Supplemental Essay

Guide to the 2017-2018 Harvard University Supplemental Essay

Harvard University is one of the most competitive schools in the country. Every year admissions officers are bombarded with applications from eager students looking to make the cut. Thus, Harvard has a supplement to give students an opportunity to distinguish themselves from the competition. Writing supplemental essays can be daunting, but luckily for you, College Essay Advisors founder (and admissions expert) Stacey Brook is here to break down the Harvard supplement so you can hit submit with confidence.

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Blog > Essay Advice , Private University , Supplementals > How to Write the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays

How to Write the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays

Admissions officer reviewed by Ben Bousquet, M.Ed Former Vanderbilt University

Written by Ben Bousquet, M.Ed Former Vanderbilt University Admissions

Key Takeaway

What are the vanderbilt supplemental essay prompts.

Vanderbilt has two supplemental essay prompts you can choose from. They do not have a preference for which one you submit, but you should consider which one makes the most sense for you. Both Vanderbilt supplemental essay prompts are fairly common topics, so you may find ways to “recycle” your writing and use it for other schools too.

This guide will walk you through our tips on how to write the two Vanderbilt supplemental essays from a former Vanderbilt admission officer.

How to Write the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay

Supplemental strategy.

Supplemental essays are very important to the Vanderbilt admissions process. Vanderbilt is an extremely highly-selective school, so making admissions decisions based on academics alone isn’t enough. They want to understand and assess your impact and engagement outside of the classroom as well.

Vanderbilt admissions also wants to understand who you might be as a community member on their campus. Remember, Vanderbilt students live on-campus in the residence halls all four years. Community fit in their diverse community in Nashville is exceptionally important to them too.

These values—extracurriculars and embracing a diverse community—are reflected in the Vanderbilt supplemental essay prompts.

How long should Vanderbilt supplemental essay be? 250 words? 400?

Oh, one more thing. Vanderbilt asks you to “Please provide your answer in approximately 250 words”, but you’ll notice that the box allows you to submit up to 400 words. Many students ask if it is okay to write more than 250 words.

It is okay to write more than 250 words for the Vanderbilt supplemental essays. As always, you should find ways to be concise and direct when writing this style of supplemental essay. Vanderbilt changed their word count policy in the 2022-2023 school year, which is also when they added the second prompt. They give the space to write up to 400 words, and you may use as much of that space as you need.

Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.

This has been Vanderbilt’s supplemental essay for years, and you are likely to see similar prompts at other schools. It's a classic extracurricular activities essay .

To start, make sure you clearly describe the activity and your role. Some activities might take a bit more explanation than others. Admission officers likely know what a baseball pitcher does or what a debate competition might look like. Still, you may have had an informal leadership role. If you are writing about something more distinctive like an internship, research program, school club, or family responsibilities, be clear about your role. Have someone else read it and make sure they can accurately recite to you their understanding of your activity.

Remember, Vanderbilt wants to understand your impact outside of the classroom and the context and breadth of any achievements you have. (We have a whole post about extracurricular magnitude and impact , if you're interested.)

Vanderbilt admissions also wants to know that you are reflective enough to write about the impact your chosen extracurricular activity had on you. What did you learn? How did you change? Perhaps you were part of a research team and gained a greater understanding of how individual scientists are integral parts of a lab. Maybe your work with children on the autism spectrum is the reason you want to go into education. Show how you’ve learned and grown.

Additionally, Vanderbilt (and pretty much any school) wants to understand how your experiences will positively impact others now and in the future. Remember, they are recruiting not just students for the classroom, but community members for four years. Be sure to tell them how your experiences will translate to the next chapters of your life.

By the way, students often worry about being too direct. While you don’t want to write with zero style or emotion, know that writing clearly about your impact can help your admission officer understand your point quickly. Your admission officer is on a time crunch. It is okay in a supplemental essay to explicitly connect the dots between what you have done in high school and what you will do in college.

Which brings me to my last point—feel free to sneak in something specific at Vanderbilt that relates to your extracurricular activity, something you’d like to join once there. Whether that is research, service, marching band, or the rocket team, it is appropriate to let them know an aspect of the community you’d like to join.

Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?

This second prompt was new for Vanderbilt in the 2022-23 school year. They do not have a preference for which prompt you choose, so don’t let that discourage you from addressing this one.

Most of my guidelines from the extracurricular essay apply here as well.

This prompt is a somewhat distinctive take on a diversity essay . Instead of directly asking you to address diversity or a community, Vanderbilt asks you to reflect on conversation(s) you’ve had where your viewpoint wasn’t shared.

Just like the extracurricular essay, don’t make the careless mistake of not setting the scene for the conversation you describe. You don’t have to (or want to) spend half your essay describing the parties involved, but don’t skip the setup either.

Then, give details of the encounter. Some students opt for the more conservative route of taking a stance of neutrality in the disagreement—describing a scene without stating their own opinion. Perhaps a controversial reading in class brought out differing opinions and resulted in an argument. Other (probably most) students will choose to reveal their own viewpoint or “side” of an argument and describe the scene where they were challenged. Either approach is okay, as long as you…

Share how the conversation impacted you. Perhaps your opinion was changed when you realized someone else has more direct experience with a topic and they swayed you. Maybe the person with whom you disagree dug their heels in based on a proclamation of unshakable faith. The lessons one learns from these encounters would be different, and you need to make sure that lesson is revealed.

Again, you want to leave the admission officer with a sense of who you are as a community member through this story. Maybe you are open-minded, or empathetic, or a great listener, or a skillful but caring debater. Let them infer (or tell them directly!) how this will manifest on the Vanderbilt campus.

With both essays, make sure you set your reader up to understand the situation or extracurricular activity. Don’t leave them guessing or assume they’ll understand something. Then, open yourself up to enough reflection to demonstrate your capacity to learn and grow, and be forward-looking enough that they can picture you on their campus.

For more advice about applying to Vanderbilt, be sure to check out our Vanderbilt Common Data Set post and How to Get into Vanderbilt guide. See you there!

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August 26, 2023

2023-2024 Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essay Prompts

A pillared building is featured at Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt University has released its 2023-2024 supplemental admissions essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028. This year, in addition to The Common Application ’s Personal Statement, Vanderbilt requires applicants to answer one of their two supplemental essay prompts in approximately 250 words. So what are this year’s prompts? Wonder no more!

2023-2024 Vanderbilt Essay Topics & Questions

Vanderbilt’s two supplemental essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028, which applicants are to choose one to answer in about 250 words, are as follows:

1. Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?

Vanderbilt’s admissions committee values a diversity of thought on their campus. So applicants should not be afraid to express an opinion- even if it delves into politics. But, no matter what applicants choose to write about in their response, they must showcase that they’ll be respectful of the opinions of others and that they’re malleable to change. The conversation is, in many ways, a window into how a student will take advantage of a liberal arts education.

2. Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.

Too many applicants choose to write about an extracurricular activity that will not serve Vanderbilt. For instance, writing about a sport if the applicant isn’t getting recruited for that sport is a wasted opportunity since the student will not be helping Vanderbilt’s team win. And even if a student is a recruited athlete, they should avoid writing about their sport since sports essays are  always  cliché in elite college admissions.

The extracurricular that a student chooses to focus on in their response should be included in the activities section of their Common Application, and it should further shine a spotlight on the applicant’s singular hook (rather than well-roundedness ). After all, Vanderbilt seeks to admit students who will change the world in a very specific way. The applicant’s activity choice for this essay should be consistent with that narrative.

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If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Vanderbilt by submitting the most compelling essays possible, fill out Ivy Coach ’s consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to delineate our college admissions counseling services for seniors.

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Vanderbilt University Essay Examples

Vanderbilt essay examples – introduction.

If you’re looking for Vanderbilt essay examples and Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, you’ve come to the right place. Vanderbilt is a private research university located on a beautiful campus in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt puts students in the heart of Nashville, a city known for its thriving music scene and foodie culture. With 70 majors across four academic schools, Vanderbilt offers rigorous academic options for students looking to study in any discipline .  

In this article, we’ll go over some Vanderbilt essays that worked. We’ll provide several Vanderbilt essay examples for you to review. Then, we’ll discuss why these Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples succeeded.   

Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Requirements

Before we get into the Vanderbilt essay examples, let’s first take a look at the Vanderbilt supplemental essay requirements. Then, we’ll discuss our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples in more detail.

In addition to the Common Application essay, Vanderbilt also requires one short essay based on one of two essay prompts.

Vanderbilt Essay Requirements:

Short answer essay 1 (250 words):.

Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?

Short Answer Essay 2 (250 words):

Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.

Past Vanderbilt essay prompts

In the past, Vanderbilt has required one longer essay focusing on extracurricular activities. The Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples in this guide reflect that older prompt. That said, they can still be helpful to you as you approach the current style of the short Vanderbilt supplemental essays. We are sure you will find the Vanderbilt essay examples below are quire similar to an essay you might write for the second prompt.

In this guide, we’ll focus on the Vanderbilt essay examples from previous years. We will also present you with tips on how to use these Vanderbilt essay examples to write your Vanderbilt supplemental essays. Through studying these Vanderbilt essay examples, you can learn how to write the best possible Vanderbilt supplemental essays. 

Vanderbilt Essays that Worked

Now that we’ve covered the Vanderbilt supplemental essay questions and how they’ve changed over the years, let’s move on to some real Vanderbilt essay examples. 

Vanderbilt Essay Examples #1

This August, a member of an organization where I volunteer became a headline: 16th trans woman killed in 2019. Every time I leave this organization, I pray that everyone lives another week. After losing this person, I’m not prepared to lose another loved one. 

Immediately after this person’s passing, I was scared of returning to my organization. With time, I started to accept that I couldn’t save this person and that I can’t give anyone at this organization the life they deserve. However, that didn’t mean I couldn’t make a difference. 

After strategizing with my friends, I started a project that didn’t give homeless communities what outsiders thought they wanted, but what they actually needed. Because my city is so spread out, well-known organizations are inaccessible. 

I engineered an online resource guide so anyone experiencing homelessness can access needed assistance. My guide discusses ways to acquire free/subsidized metro passes and groups organizations by type and geographic area, highlighting lesser-known ones without a substantial online presence. But contributing to words on a webpage isn’t everything. My goal for my work at the organization where I volunteer is to help all of them see themselves the way I see them: deserving, valuable, and resilient. 

I didn’t just want to cater meals for the young people at my organization. I wanted to cook them myself. Each week, I take requests for what I should prepare for the following Saturday. Members need to know someone cares about them enough to spend hundreds of hours in the kitchen for them. 

I didn’t just want to host drives for this organization after I witnessed the demoralizing effects of low-quality donations. Believing you are worthy is difficult enough after your family throws you onto the streets, but it becomes almost impossible when you’re only given everyone else’s scraps. 

After these conversations, I started a clothing revitalization initiative where I use outside materials or other donations to up-cycle usable parts of low-quality clothing donations. That way, our members receive only the best possible items. I don’t want poor donations to make them feel less than what they are. 

I couldn’t save this person. I can’t give anyone at my organization the life they deserve. But I can still make a difference. A bowl of pasta and a pair of jeans might not be much, but it’s the little things like these that help me honor her.

Why this essay worked

The first one of our Vanderbilt essay examples is an extracurricular activities essay example. In this Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, we learn that this student cares deeply about their community. The student puts a lot of thought into how best to give back to their local community of houseless people. 

Another reason why the first of our Vanderbilt essay examples worked is because it demonstrates leadership and impact . When writing your Vanderbilt supplemental essays make sure to write about an activity where you have made an impact or been a leader. This Vanderbilt essay example explains how the student identified a problem within their community and created solutions for it. They created an online database so houseless people could more easily access resources, prepared home-cooked meals for people in need, and started a clothing revitalization initiative. 

Depth and breadth

In this one of three Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, we learn that this applicant doesn’t just care about giving back in theory. Instead, we learn they are committed to creating new initiatives that will improve the lives of vulnerable populations. 

This example of one of our Vanderbilt essays that worked also employs a thoughtful structure . It starts with a hook , continues into the body of the essay, then ends by bringing the reader back to the initial hook. In this Vanderbilt essay example, the “hook” is a headline about the murder of a member of the homeless shelter where the student volunteers. This hook shocks and draws in the reader at the same time. In doing so, it provides an emotional tether to the story. 

Ultimately, this Vanderbilt supplemental essay example tells a well-structured story. It shows us how a student took initiative to make an impact in their community. 

Now let’s take a look at the second of our Vanderbilt essay examples. This one will explore another set of characteristics that made this a Vanderbilt essay that worked. 

Vanderbilt Essay Examples #2

Hundreds of eyes rested on me, the chatter of the crowd slowly descending into silence. My hand clenched around the wooden stick, a “tambo,” and a shallow exhale escaped between my teeth. Today was the day I would get my black belt. My Italian friends looked on, expectant. I gave a slight bow, signifying the start of the “kata,” a series of moves, like an imaginary fight.

I opened my eyes and suddenly I wasn’t in an Italian high school gym, surrounded by hundreds of strangers. I was back in Berkeley, on the familiar dojo mat, practicing for the thousandth time. Retreat, high block; diagonal strike, strike, reverse — and my body fell into a familiar pattern, a rhythm indelibly etched into my muscles.

My tambo whipped and whooshed through the air with deadly precision. I felt myself bow again, and realized it was over. A beat of dead silence, and then applause erupted, filling the gym to the ceiling. Pride swelled inside me, my taut muscles relaxing. A wide grin settled on my face. It was for moments like this that all the hard practice, all the bruises and accidental kicks to the face, all the long nights of training, the endless repetition, the exhaustion – that it was all worth it. 

When I began martial arts, I thought it would end as my other brief stints with gymnastics and fencing had: with the realization that I wasn’t cut out for it. But one fateful Tuesday in August, the summer before eighth grade, I was dropped off for my first class. I learned how to escape a wrist grab: turn your arm in the direction of the attacker’s thumb and shift sideways. I was enthralled.

As I learned how energy could be shifted and redirected, as my techniques became swift and powerful, I knew I had found my sport. The easy flow of a hip throw and the powerful intensity of a stamp kick became my life for one hour, four days a week. I became part of the dojo community, friends with people of all ages. I flew to Atlanta for the training camps where I ate, slept, and breathed back rolls, side drops and front kicks.

Earning my black belt after years of commitment felt right, a symbol of my passion and dedication. While some people play soccer or baseball, I am an artist. A martial artist.

The second of our Vanderbilt essay examples does not focus as intensely on leadership or impact. However, one crucial feature makes this one of the Vanderbilt essays that worked: it keeps the “personal” in “personal essay .” 

The aim of the Vanderbilt supplemental essays is to get an in-depth look at one of your extracurricular activities so that the Vanderbilt admissions committee can learn more about you. This one of our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples is essentially the opposite of a resume: it goes into great detail about one aspect of this student’s life. This one of our Vanderbilt essay examples demonstrates genuine, invested interest in martial arts. 

Immersed in the narrative

Do you notice how when you’re reading this Vanderbilt supplemental essays example, you feel like you’re right there with the student in the gymnasium? The entire first half of this one of our Vanderbilt essay examples describes the victorious moment when the student finally got their black belt. The student does an incredible job making the reader feel like we’re right there with them. As you read the second of our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, note the use of detail: sights, sounds, smells. We know exactly how the student feels, physically and mentally, as they begin this nerve-wracking performance. 

The second of our Vanderbilt essay examples also numbers among our Vanderbilt essays that worked because it demonstrates a change in the student’s perspective. Where previously they thought that they weren’t cut out for sports, taking martial arts classes allowed them to learn commitment and dedication. The student is now able to think of themselves as an “artist.” 

For the next one of our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, we’ll examine a different take on what makes this essay one of the Vanderbilt essays that worked. 

Vanderbilt Essay Examples #3

I was lost. Utterly and completely lost. After wandering the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Viterbo, Italy for almost an hour, I could confidently say that I had no idea which way was home. On this second day of school in a new country, I had yet to learn these winding, medieval streets; the city’s labyrinthine design was intentional, to confuse invaders and outsiders. At that moment, that was me – an outsider.

Eventually I found my way home, to the apartment I would live in during the coming months. It was not the last time I would be lost (due to my lack of navigational skills), but as the weeks passed, I slowly let go of my identity of  “outsider” and embraced my new home. 

Learning the language was the first step. Being surrounded by it helped, but I still spent hours memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules. And of course I made mistakes — asking to towel-dry the gelato instead of sample it (asciugare vs. assaggiare), and telling my host mother she was going to take a shower instead of informing her that I was (fai vs. faccio).

I recognized that learning a language is not a process that can be forced or rushed; it is a progression of knowledge that builds on itself, a mastery that cannot be feigned. I would receive no prize for speaking the best Italian, only the satisfaction of knowing that I was able to communicate in another language. Perhaps that is why languages appeal to me so much.

I don’t master a skill to prove that I am better than someone else. I do it for me. My reward for learning a language is being able to talk to so many more interesting people, to think from a different perspective, to order extra basil on a pizza margherita.  

As I learned the formal and informal, gerunds and impersonals, I began to understand the world of beautiful sounds I lived in. And by understanding, I embraced more fully the new culture of my life. The double kisses I gave and received began to feel natural, and the unintentional forehead bumps abated.

My daily cappuccino became as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth.  I could now walk through the town’s winding streets without a second thought, knowing where each previously-indistinguishable alleyway led. My new school helped me with this assimilation — as we translated the Aeneid in class, I saw scenes from it brought to life in marble while visiting the Vatican; my childhood obsession with Greek myths was rekindled in Sicily as I gazed in awe at the colossal temples we had studied in Art History.

The richness and abundance of Italian history and it’s tangible remnants constantly surrounded me. Each magical location I visited, each Italian friend I met, and each plate of pasta I ate folded me deeper into the culture of La Bella Italia.

Living abroad taught me many things. Perhaps the most important lesson is that each maze I encounter will resolve itself with time and effort. No incredible skill, no deeper understanding, no complete mastery will come on the first day.

As a child, I would erupt in frustration when I didn’t immediately understand a math concept, or when an ornament dropped from the Christmas tree because of my hastiness to decorate. But I now understand that no matter how hard I work or strain to understand, true learning requires time for new information to simmer and stew, and finally solidify into knowledge. Patience.

As I look ahead to the next few years of my life, I know that I will have my fair share of labyrinths to tackle, whether they be challenging classes or completely new cities and campuses. I could read the textbook or memorize a map, but to learn and understand the complexities of multi-variable calculus or which café serves the best sandwiches, I’ll need to engage in the class and explore the city. And I can’t wait.

For the third of our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, we travel with a student to Italy, where they discover that learning a new language might take patience, but it comes with a great reward. It differs in certain ways from our other Vanderbilt essay examples, but it nonetheless succeeds.

So, what makes this one of our Vanderbilt essays that worked?

In the third of our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, this student does a great job of reflecting on what they have learned. When writing your Vanderbilt supplemental essays, you’ll discuss your extracurriculars in detail, albeit in fewer words. The third of our Vanderbilt essay examples goes into great detail of what it’s like to learn a language. It also highlights what this student learned about themself in the process. 

Packed with personal detail

Your Vanderbilt application should showcase as much about you as possible. Think about how much more the Vanderbilt admissions committee can learn from this Vanderbilt supplemental essays example than a transcript that simply states: “Italian – One Semester.” 

The Vanderbilt admissions committee hopes to understand your story as a person and a candidate from your application. Just like the students did in these Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, think about your Vanderbilt supplemental essays as one puzzle piece in your application. When only looking at your SAT scores and Common App essay, what does your application leave out? What piece of your personality, passions, or values does not appear? Once you identify that piece, you have a great basis for your Vanderbilt supplemental essays. Then, you’ll be one step closer to writing one of the Vanderbilt essays that worked.

Writing Extracurricular Activities Essays

Our Vanderbilt essay examples and Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples fall within the category of “Extracurricular Activities Essays.” This essay prompt might ask you something like: “Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.”

In the past, the Vanderbilt supplemental essays have consisted of one long essay about extracurricular activities. According to our advisors from Vanderbilt , the Vanderbilt admissions committee really values applicants who make an impact in their communities. They look for students who are passionate about non-academic activities, as you’ve seen from our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples. The extracurricular essay allows you to showcase who you are outside of the classroom. Our extracurricular activities essay examples do just this. 

This year, of the two shorter Vanderbilt supplemental essays, one is about extracurricular activities. So, make sure to review our Vanderbilt essays that worked as you write. That way, you can see Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples that successfully described the applicants’ extracurriculars. 

A common essay prompt

The extracurricular activities essay is a common college essay prompt. To learn how to get into Vanderbilt, you should master this style of essay. Learning more about the extracurricular activities essay won’t just help you with Vanderbilt admissions; schools like Stanford , Northwestern , University of Florida , and Princeton all ask for similar essays that focus on extracurricular activities. With our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, you’ll learn how to write great extracurricular activities essays for all universities. 

When the Vanderbilt admissions committee reads your Vanderbilt supplemental essays, you want them to come away with a basic understanding of who you are, what you value, and what you would bring to the Vanderbilt community. These Vanderbilt supplemental essays, the extracurricular activities essay in particular, provide the opportunity to share more detail about yourself and your interests.

Tell a story

Additionally, the extracurricular activities essay allows you to showcase growth and demonstrate what you have learned through your involvement in leadership roles within your community. The best essays tell a story about a personal realization or change. The extracurricular activities essay is a great place within the Vanderbilt supplemental essays to accomplish this. 

Vanderbilt essay reflection questions: 

  • Does your Vanderbilt application essay expand meaningfully on an activity you mention in your application?
  • Do you use your extracurricular activity to reveal more about who you are and what matters to you?
  • Do you describe why your chosen activity was important to you in concrete and specific terms?
  • Does your reader learn more about you by reading your Vanderbilt extracurricular essay?

If your Vanderbilt supplemental essay answers all of these questions, you’re one step closer to writing a great extracurricular activities essay. If you’re still stumped, don’t worry. Return to our extracurricular activities essay examples for guidance. 

How to use these Vanderbilt essay examples to write your Vanderbilt supplemental essays

Keep in mind that the Vanderbilt application process is competitive. Ranked number #13 in the United States by the U.S. News & World Report, Vanderbilt is described by the website as a “most selective” school. With such a high ranking, it’s no surprise that the Vanderbilt acceptance rate is quite low: under 5% . To learn how to get into Vanderbilt, you will need to take advantage of their holistic admissions process by writing stellar essays.

This year, when writing your Vanderbilt supplemental essays, you will need to focus on answering two questions in 250 words. Though our Vanderbilt essay examples were extracurricular activities essay examples, we can still learn a lot from Vanderbilt essay examples on how to write successful Vanderbilt supplemental essays.

The Vanderbilt essay examples that we have discussed largely focus on answering the second question; as such, they are extracurricular activities essay examples. So how can we apply what we’ve learned through these Vanderbilt essay examples to answer the first of the Vanderbilt supplemental essays as well?

Reflect on moments of change

The first of the Vanderbilt supplemental essays questions encourages you to reflect on diversity and difference. Even though we haven’t covered how to answer this question directly in our Vanderbilt essay examples, all of our Vanderbilt essays that worked reflected on moments of change and lessons that the student learned. Wait, that sounds familiar– this is exactly what the first essay question asks you to reflect on!

The supplemental essay is a crucial component of your Vanderbilt application. Supplemental essays, are a way for the Vanderbilt admissions committee to get to know you better as an applicant. Each of the Vanderbilt supplemental essays is a way for you to showcase your passions, your skills, and what makes you unique. Since the Vanderbilt acceptance rate is only 5%, you want to use your supplemental essays to help you stand out. 

Vanderbilt Essay Examples: Five Key Tips

If you’re still wondering how you can use these Vanderbilt essay examples and Vanderbilt essays that worked to help you write your supplemental essays, here’s some tips: 

Vanderbilt essays that worked tips

1. show your personality.

In each of these Vanderbilt essay examples, we learn so much more about the student’s passions that we would from just reading a resume. Take the opportunity in your Vanderbilt supplemental essays to show the admissions committee something unique about you!

2. Keep structure in mind

Whether you open and close your essay with the same hook like the writer did like the first of our Vanderbilt essays example, or start strong with a “ show don’t tell ” anecdote like in the second of our Vanderbilt essays that worked, a thoughtful structure keeps your reader engaged. 

3. Be specific

Imagine if in reading the second one of our Vanderbilt essay examples the student had said “Even though I was nervous, I showed off my moves, and then was awarded the black belt.” That’s a much less engaging retelling. Instead of skipping over details, the writer of that essay tells us exactly where they were during the black belt test, what their body felt like, what moves they did, who was there watching them, and how they felt throughout. Detail makes your essay way more interesting! 

4. Talk about a moment where you learned something or changed

Just like a story, even the shortest essays should have a beginning, middle, and end. In your Vanderbilt supplemental essays, you should start at a place, and describe a change before you reach your resolution. You can see our student do this in our third essay example: the student begins the essay completely lost in Italy, then learns Italian, and is able to fully explore the city in a way they never imagined they could. 

Our Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples aren’t the only resources out there. Check out this CollegeAdvisor article on how to get started within your writing process. 

Other CollegeAdvisor Resources on Extracurricular Activities 

When thinking about how to get into Vanderbilt, there are many factors to take into account. First, consider: the Vanderbilt application requirements, the Vanderbilt acceptance rate, SAT scores , and grades. Another aspect of your Vanderbilt application is your extracurricular activities .

After reading these fantastic Vanderbilt essay examples, you might be wondering: what kind of extracurricular activities should I list on my Vanderbilt application? 

As part of the Vanderbilt application requirements on the common app, you should list your 10 most significant extracurricular activities. But what makes an extracurricular activity significant? 

A strong extracurricular activity is one in which you have demonstrated leadership, impact, and have spent many hours participating. Some students make the mistake of trying to join a bunch of new clubs senior year. It is obvious to admissions when students try and get more extracurriculars for their Common App at the last moment. Instead, focus on spending more time and achieving leadership positions in the extracurriculars you already participate in.

In our extracurricular activities essay examples, you can see how passionate the students are about their activities. Use these extracurricular activities essay examples as inspiration for what kind of extracurriculars you can pursue. You can also look into what extracurriculars Vanderbilt offers and what life is like on campus. Then, you can use that to inform your extracurricular activities in high school. 

Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples

If you’re looking for more resources on extracurricular activities, CollegeAdvisor can help. Check out this article on how to showcase extracurricular activities in your college application. 

How to Showcase Extracurricular Activities In Your College Applications

Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Guides & Vanderbilt Resources

If you’ve read our Vanderbilt essays that worked and you’re still feeling unsure, don’t worry! We have lots of different resources to help you as you prepare your Vanderbilt application. 

For more essay guides, check out this article that offers more advice on writing supplemental essays for Vanderbilt. If you’re looking to get a merit scholarship from Vanderbilt, check out the link below. In this article we discuss how to master the merit scholarship essays . 

Vanderbilt University Merit Scholarship Essay Guide

Once you’ve brainstormed, taken inspiration from our Vanderbilt essays that worked, and written your first draft, it’s time to edit. Our webinar on essay editing can help. And if you need inspiration, read our profile on Jacqueline Huang, a student who successfully got into Vanderbilt.

Client Success Stories: Jacqueline Huang

Vanderbilt Essay Examples – Final thoughts

We’ve given Vanderbilt an A+ rating as a college for its fantastic academics, diversity, and value. But if you want to know how to get into Vanderbilt and impress the Vanderbilt admissions committee, you need to take a look at the Vanderbilt application requirements. Don’t be discouraged by the low Vanderbilt acceptance rate. Using these Vanderbilt essay examples, you can put together a great Vanderbilt application.

We hope that in reading these Vanderbilt essay examples you gain a better understanding of what makes a great supplemental essay.

This article was written by  Rachel Kahn . 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  CollegeAdvisor.com  can support you in the college application process.

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supplemental essays vanderbilt

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supplemental essays vanderbilt

Analyzing the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

September 20, 2021

supplemental essays vanderbilt

Your reason behind applying to Vanderbilt University might have been inspired by the opportunity to learn from esteemed instructors at the Blair School of Music, or the chance to work with one of the school’s 30 registered student service groups. If you’ve done your research, you might already know that its campus itself is a natural arboretum and may be thrilled to continue activities related to nature. Or, you’ve always been fascinated about why Vanderbilt is the “Harvard of the South.” Either way, it’s time to let the admissions officers know about an activity that matters to you through the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 . 

While the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 doesn’t explicitly ask why you’ve chosen the school, admissions officers use the essay to determine whether you’d be a good fit for Vanderbilt—and vice versa—through your response. Take advantage of this prompt to discuss an activity that has made an impact on you, and one where you believe you have left your mark. In reading your essay, Vanderbilt wants to know what unique qualities and experiences you bring and which parts of campus you’re likely to contribute to if accepted to the university. To guide you through the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 , I’ve outlined the question, the dos and don'ts for your response, and some more tips to help you write a successful answer.

Prompt for the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200-400 words)

If it seems like Vanderbilt doesn’t have supplemental essays just because there’s no separate writing section, think again. Hidden in the activities section of Vanderbilt’s Common Application page, this short essay should not be overlooked, as it’s a great opportunity to tell admissions officers about an extracurricular that matters to you. Remember that Vanderbilt admissions officers have already seen your personal statement through the Common App. It’s important that you cover an entirely different experience in the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 as they don’t want to read about the same thing over and over. Think about an activity that has had a significant impact on you that you haven’t elaborated on elsewhere in your application. This can include a club at school, an initiative you’ve started, a volunteering experience, or an internship or job you’ve had.

You shouldn’t spend any more than 100 words naming and describing the activity. Admissions officers want to know less about what you do daily as part of the activity, and more on how it has helped hone your leadership skills and influenced who you are. The key focus of your response should lie in explaining why it has had such a powerful impact on you. Has this experience enriched your connection to your community? Is it connected to your interests and goals? Is there a direct connection between your ideal career and the role you played while participating in this particular extracurricular? Anecdotes are important in getting your point across successfully. Think about instances that emphasize why this activity matters so much to you. Why does it stand out over your other experiences?

Even though you haven’t been asked “Why Vanderbilt” directly, think about the types of activities that students are engaged in at the school, and try to find connections between your activity and Vanderbilt’s offerings . Is there an organization at the university where you’d be able to continue similar work? How does Vanderbilt’s commitment to community engagement align with the activity you’ve chosen?

Your choice of extracurricular should reflect the type of experience that holds the most meaning to you personally, because after all, this is your college application. Admissions officers don’t want an essay outlining seemingly impressive activities that you think they want to hear. The Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 should provide more information about who you are and what enjoy. Make sure to reflect on how this activity has shaped your perspective and the role it plays in your aspirations.

More Tips for the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

  • Think about your leadership role and commitment - When brainstorming the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 , you have to be strategic. The activity you choose should not only be unique but also exemplify your commitment and biggest assets. If you were a general member in a really unusual club for half a year, it’s not the best selection if you didn’t do much. Vanderbilt looks for community leaders who are dedicated to their field. Write about an extracurricular where you’ve been involved for an admirable period of time and taken initiative. Just saying you were a leader isn’t enough either – show your leadership through anecdotes and tangible achievements in your essay.
  • Be wary of your activities list description - Since you’re elaborating on a meaningful activity, you should ideally capitalize on the short space provided to describe your achievements with the club or organization. That being said, your Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 is chance to expand upon—instead of repeating—what you’ve written earlier in the Common Application. Admissions officers expect each component of your application to convey new information about you. Mentioning the same things you’ve touched upon elsewhere in the Common App is not strategic. Read back on what you’ve written in the activities section before you write the essay so that you can make sure that all of the information you’ve provided is new.
  • Take advantage of the word limit - Even though the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 has provided you with a minimum word count of 200 words, you should take advantage of the upper limit. Although a 400-word limit isn’t too high, it’s generous enough to write an informative essay that demonstrates your passion and commitment to a significant extracurricular. Take advantage of the space you’ve got to introduce the activity, go into anecdotes, and draw a conclusion that makes it clear to admissions officers why this activity holds a special place in your heart. 

Since you don’t have multiple prompts to convey to admissions officers who you are and what makes you unique, the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022 must not be taken lightly. Don’t miss this opportunity to highlight your interests and goals by writing a response that demonstrates your passion and dedication to an important extracurricular activity. It’s time to impress the admissions officers with your commitment. Good luck!

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Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Examples

Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Examples

Sitting down to write an essay is a daunting task, and you might fare better if you have seen how others have solved the blank page problem, perhaps by perusing some Vanderbilt supplemental essay examples.

There is no perfect approach to how to write a college essay , and you need to find your own way forward. One of the best college essay tips , paradoxically, is finding your way by looking at how other people have approached their own essays.

So, in this article, we will show you sample college essays for Vanderbilt, including one for the Common App essay , one for the Coalition Application, and all of Vanderbilt’s exclusive supplemental essay prompts. We will also talk about how to write essays, including tips for Vanderbilt in particular.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 10 min read

Essay examples, common application.

There are several prompts for the Common Application. We have selected one ( bolded & italicized , below) to write a sample for, but we have included all prompts for your edification.

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you\u2019ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. "}]">

Word limit: The Common Application has no hard word limit. We recommend approximately 500 words; for the sake of brevity, don’t exceed 650.

I need to lose weight. I need to love my body. I need to be my authentic self and not worry about what other people say, but I’ve got a doctor spitting out a pile of health complications that are hard to ignore. My therapist is telling me that self-acceptance is so important, though. Meanwhile, although my friends at school say, “You’re beautiful!” in every social media selfie, I know I can hear whispering and snickering when I pass by.

All I get are conflicting messages about my body, and it’s my body, but I don’t know what to think. The event that brought all these thoughts to the surface came when I was jogging and my mp3 player shuffled up Adele’s song Rolling in the Deep. I started to cry in the middle of the trail. Adele was a plus-sized woman who lost weight and shed fans with pounds as a bunch of people piled on her for “betraying” the body-positive community.

The Coalition Application also has several prompts. As before, we have included all prompts, and will give you one sample ( bolded & italicized , below)

Submit an essay on a topic of your choice. "}]">

Word limit: Like the Common Application, the Coalition Application has no hard word limit, but we recommend you aim for 500 and do not go over 650 words.

I worked through my problems one note at a time, my fingers on the fretboard, bending and warbling notes until I could get them close to the timbre of a human voice. This might seem like a superficial reason to get the blues, but my cat died last year, and I had had her since I was a little boy. She was very special to me, and her loss left a trench in my life.

One of my interests is the guitar, something I have played since almost as long as I had the cat – my dad is a session musician, my mom a music teacher – and so I picked up my instrument when it was time to mourn. Blues music came out in ways that I couldn’t manage before. It was true what they say; my grief was a propellant that accelerated what I could do, and what I felt in my guts and my throat came out of my fingers, converted into aural paint across the air.

The loss of my cat is less piquant now, although still with me, but my love of guitar music has been reignited, and I immerse myself in my art. It started as obsession, and I practiced more and more than I ever had before, notes piling up inside my room next to the scattered laundry. My teachers thought I might be aimless, but my aim was precise; I just had a different target in mind than they did.

This essay is meant to show how you engage with your community. There are two possible prompts to select from.

Word limit: approximately 250 words for each short answer essay

Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?

Debate club brought me into contact with a lot of viewpoints I was uncomfortable with and made me defend several of them. It taught me to engage with different ideas, back up my own arguments, and understand the vast variety of thought that exists in the world. It did not prepare me for fighting with my best friend.

When Salman Rushdie was stabbed – attacked by a fanatic who didn’t like a book – I was ranting about this with my friends. Obviously, as a debate club member, free expression is important to me. My friend Samuel agreed that what happened to Rushdie was awful. “But,” he said, “there ought to be more hate speech laws; that would stop stuff like this from happening.”

That floored me, and it started an argument that lasted for weeks and nearly cost me the friendship. I thought I would end it by saying that free speech was fundamental, but Samuel didn’t back down.

He showed me a picture of his pen pal from Phoenix. The kid’s name was Abdul, and he was a Muslim. Samuel told me that Abdul didn’t have the right to free speech, because he risked hate just by walking around. Hate speech laws would help him.

I realized that I prided myself on seeing “both sides,” but I still had biases and blind spots. While I still believe in free speech, I have reminded myself to be open-minded, even against myself, and to understand others.

When thinking about how to start a college essay , begin with a good opening sentence that draws in the reader. Then, continue with an opening paragraph that details the main ideas at play in the coming essay.

Smoothly transitioning is a great general practice, which will take you into the body of the essay. There, you will flesh out the ideas you started with, tell the bulk of your story, answer the prompt, and show your personal growth and connections.

Finally, cap it off with a conclusion that wraps up, or fulfills the “promise,” of the opener. You want to leave the essay in a place that makes the admissions committee feel like they would want to know more, not because the essay lacks closure, but because they are more intrigued than ever by you as an applicant, thinking that you will fit perfectly at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt has given you a requirement of only two essays, so the first thing to consider is what they are looking for. While it may seem that they are limiting your scope, they provide an interesting variety of prompts. However, in looking at the “personal essay” prompts, despite the number – seven for the Common Application and six for the Coalition Application – the same ideas crop up in each list: challenges faced, times of change, and personal growth. This speaks volumes about what Vanderbilt has chosen to learn about you.

The second essay – the short answer that Vanderbilt specifically asks for – is about you and your community.

Taken in aggregate, we can see that what Vanderbilt wants emphasized is your personal life; specifically, they want to see how you affect and are affected by your world. When you compose your essays, focus on these aspects of your life – change and community – for maximum effect with Vanderbilt.

Giving yourself the time to write, the training to write, and even hiring a college essay review service will help you write your essays, but taking a look at the examples and tips above will give you the boost you need to succeed.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In the case of Vanderbilt, they do not give a minimum word count for their short answer essays. However, because 250 words is not a lot of space to fill, a good rule of thumb is to aim for close to the maximum. After all, it they preferred a 150-word essay, they would have specified that.

The Common App specifies 250–650 words, while the Coalition Application specifies 500–650 words. With such a range, these are not considered hard limits, but do respect them anyways.

What is most important is to give yourself the writing space to explore your prompts and topics fully. Part of requesting a long essay and a short one is to test whether you are capable of expanding and exploring concepts in depth as well as delivering a brief, concise message.

Don’t, even if it is allowed. Respect that they have provided you with a limit. Even if it is a gentle suggestion, you should realize that they are also checking to see if you can follow instructions and keep to their paradigms. Can you fit your ideas into a smaller word count? They want to know that, too.

You can’t submit just any essay into that slot; you need to have something in mind that will show off yourself, your character, your personal growth, or challenges you’ve faced. You might have a story that doesn’t fit one of the other prompts but does speak to those elements of your life; in that case, you can write an original essay on that topic.

Two things to keep in mind if you choose this option: make sure your essay is not about one of the existing prompts, even inadvertently, and be sure that your original idea is really strong.

Well, first off, you’re not writing a good essay, you’re writing a great one. But to your point, the essay should be crafted over a period of a few weeks – two or three – spending time each day to work on the text. It takes time and careful consideration to build an essay.

Every aspect of your application is important, and you should consider each facet to be necessary and imperative. Don’t neglect any aspect. Each application section has its own, unique purpose. Transcripts show your academic standing, for instance. Essays show you off as an individual – something which no other area in your application will do in such a thorough way. You can use your own words and story here, as opposed to just listing your interests and extracurricular activities.

Yes, and in some cases you will. The Common App essay , or Coalition App essay, will be sent to multiple schools. However, if your Vanderbilt secondary essay will serve another school’s prompt, you may reuse it. Just make sure that it truly fits the other prompt, that it is devoid of school-specific references, and that your word/character counts still apply. In fact, double-check it, because you don’t want to scuttle your chances of acceptance because you just hit copy-paste.

They are very similar. Both the Common App and Coalition App are centralized services to streamline prospective students’ applications. The Common App is more widely used, while the Coalition App is geared toward underprivileged students – students who come from backgrounds that are not represented at, or may have a more difficult time getting into, post-secondary institutions.

Check which schools you’re applying to first. If you’re applying to schools that are only available on the Common App, that’s your choice made for you. Choose the Coalition App if you can make use of their additional services or think they will better serve you as an underprivileged student or member of an underrepresented group.

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supplemental essays vanderbilt

Some results uranium dioxide powder structure investigation

  • Processes of Obtaining and Properties of Powders
  • Published: 28 June 2009
  • Volume 50 , pages 281–285, ( 2009 )

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supplemental essays vanderbilt

  • E. I. Andreev 1 ,
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Features of the macrostructure and microstructure of uranium dioxide powders are considered. Assumptions are made on the mechanisms of the behavior of powders of various natures during pelletizing. Experimental data that reflect the effect of these powders on the quality of fuel pellets, which is evaluated by modern procedures, are presented. To investigate the structure of the powders, modern methods of electron microscopy, helium pycnometry, etc., are used. The presented results indicate the disadvantages of wet methods for obtaining the starting UO 2 powders by the ammonium diuranate (ADU) flow sheet because strong agglomerates and conglomerates, which complicate the process of pelletizing, are formed. The main directions of investigation that can lead to understanding the regularities of formation of the structure of starting UO 2 powders, which will allow one to control the process of their fabrication and stabilize the properties of powders and pellets, are emphasized.

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Andreev, E.I., Glavin, K.V., Ivanov, A.V. et al. Some results uranium dioxide powder structure investigation. Russ. J. Non-ferrous Metals 50 , 281–285 (2009). https://doi.org/10.3103/S1067821209030183

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  4. How to Write the 2023-24 Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays

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COMMENTS

  1. Personal Essay and Short Answer Prompts

    For both first-year and transfer applicants, we ask you to complete a short answer essay (approximately 250 words) based on one of two prompts. Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength.

  2. How to Write the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay

    Prompt #1. Pick 1 of 2: Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you. Please provide your response in approximately 250 words.

  3. How to Write the Vanderbilt University Essay 2023-2024

    Option 1: Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you. Option 2: Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences ...

  4. Vanderbilt University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    Vanderbilt University 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations. Vanderbilt decided to keep it short and sweet, so we'll follow suit. A one-question supplement means you've got one shot at perfection. No pressure, though. The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words. Supplemental Essay Type(s): Activity, Diversity

  5. 5 Tips for Writing a Stellar Vanderbilt Supplement Essay

    Reading Vanderbilt essays that worked is like planting a seed for your own success. Vanderbilt Essays That Worked: Analysis. To give you a sense of what an effective Vanderbilt supplemental essay looks like, we tracked down an example of a successful Vanderbilt essay. Keep in mind that this is a response to an older prompt.

  6. Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

    The best Vanderbilt supplemental essays will use the activity/work experience to reveal key information rather than dwelling on logistics. This isn't your resume! Vanderbilt has already seen your activities list. What matters in your Vanderbilt essay is that you expand on your activities list to discuss your interests, values, and ...

  7. How To Write The Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay + Examples

    Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essay Prompts 2023-2024. In addition to the essay requirements for the Common, Coalition, and QuestBridge Apps, Vanderbilt has one required supplemental essay. Having to write one essay has its benefits and disadvantages. You can focus on your response and make it as excellent as possible.

  8. How to Ace the 2023-2024 Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay

    How to Ace the 2023-2024 Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay. Vanderbilt University is a very competitive private school with a 7% acceptance rate. If you hope to gain acceptance into this top-tier school, you must have an exceptional application. Do not underestimate the importance of a stand-out Vanderbilt supplemental essay!

  9. A Strong Vanderbilt Essay Example from an Accepted Student

    Essay Example - The Power of Story. Prompt: Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you. (250 words) At an intersection in Oakwood, an elderly Asian man walks on the sidewalk.

  10. How to Write the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays

    Vanderbilt asks 2023-24 applicants to respond to one of two prompts in 250 words or fewer. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through drafting a distinct essay response. About Kat StubingView all posts by Kat Stubing »

  11. Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays 2023-24

    Below are Vanderbilt's supplemental essays for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with our advice for composing a winning essay. Note: Applicants only pick one of the two prompts. Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Prompt - Choice #1. Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences.

  12. How to Write the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays

    It is okay to write more than 250 words for the Vanderbilt supplemental essays. As always, you should find ways to be concise and direct when writing this style of supplemental essay. Vanderbilt changed their word count policy in the 2022-2023 school year, which is also when they added the second prompt. They give the space to write up to 400 ...

  13. 2023-2024 Vanderbilt University Supplemental Essay Prompts

    Vanderbilt's two supplemental essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2028, which applicants are to choose one to answer in about 250 words, are as follows: 1. Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest ...

  14. Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays

    The Vanderbilt supplemental essays form a major part of the overall Vanderbilt admissions process. Your Vanderbilt essay helps to provide crucial context to your application. It can also help the admissions office better understand how you'll fit on campus. Overall, the Vanderbilt supplemental essays work to build a more holistic picture of ...

  15. Vanderbilt Essay Examples

    The first one of our Vanderbilt essay examples is an extracurricular activities essay example. In this Vanderbilt supplemental essays examples, we learn that this student cares deeply about their community. The student puts a lot of thought into how best to give back to their local community of houseless people.

  16. Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    The Vanderbilt supplemental essays 2023-2024, while sharing some thematic similarities with other prestigious institutions, have their distinct flavor and emphasis. While many elite universities focus on academic aspirations, extracurricular passions, or personal growth, Vanderbilt's prompts delve deeper, seeking a holistic understanding of ...

  17. Vanderbilt Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

    Remember, the Vanderbilt supplemental essays 2022-2023 are your chance to stand out and make a lasting impression on the admissions committee. Take the time to reflect on your experiences, brainstorm ideas, and research Vanderbilt's values and culture. By putting in this extra effort, you will be well-equipped to write compelling essays that ...

  18. Analyzing the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

    To guide you through the Vanderbilt supplemental essay 2021-2022, I've outlined the question, the dos and don'ts for your response, and some more tips to help you write a successful answer. Prompt for the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay 2021-2022. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200-400 ...

  19. Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Examples

    Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Examples Updated: Apr 13, 2024 Sitting down to write an essay is a daunting task, and you might fare better if you have seen how others have solved the blank page problem, perhaps by perusing some Vanderbilt supplemental essay examples.

  20. The flag of Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia which I bought there

    Its a city in the Moscow region. As much effort they take in making nice flags, as low is the effort in naming places. The city was founded because they built factories there.

  21. Elektrostal

    Elektrostal. Elektrostal ( Russian: Электроста́ль) is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia. It is 58 kilometers (36 mi) east of Moscow. As of 2010, 155,196 people lived there.

  22. Machine-Building Plant (Elemash)

    In 1954, Elemash began to produce fuel assemblies, including for the first nuclear power plant in the world, located in Obninsk. In 1959, the facility produced the fuel for the Soviet Union's first icebreaker. Its fuel assembly production became serial in 1965 and automated in 1982. 1. Today, Elemash is one of the largest TVEL nuclear fuel ...

  23. Some results uranium dioxide powder structure investigation

    Features of the macrostructure and microstructure of uranium dioxide powders are considered. Assumptions are made on the mechanisms of the behavior of powders of various natures during pelletizing. Experimental data that reflect the effect of these powders on the quality of fuel pellets, which is evaluated by modern procedures, are presented. To investigate the structure of the powders, modern ...