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In  a trend that isn’t going away, Northwestern (like most other private schools) has changed their essays. I quite like the “Why Northwestern” prompt. But change is good? I guess. So let’s dive in.

  1. The following question is required for all Common Application and Coalition with Scoir applicants (optional for QuestBridge applicants). Please respond in 300 words or fewer:
    • We want to be sure we’re considering your application in the context of your personal experiences: What aspects of your background, your identity, or your school, community, and/or household settings have most shaped how you see yourself engaging in Northwestern’s community, be it academically, extracurricularly, culturally, politically, socially, or otherwise
    • Fairly straightforward, just find a period in your life where your character came into focus and use it to show what you will be like on the Northwestern campus. I prefer the experience be outside of class, but it doesn’t have to be.
  2. The following questions are optional, but we encourage you to answer at least one and no more than two. Please respond in fewer than 200 words per question:
    • Painting “The Rock” is a tradition at Northwestern that invites all forms of expression—students promote campus events or extracurricular groups, support social or activist causes, show their Wildcat spirit (what we call “Purple Pride”), celebrate their culture, and more. What would you paint on The Rock, and why?
    • Skip this one. It’s tough to write in 200 word what you would paint.
    • Northwestern fosters a distinctively interdisciplinary culture. We believe discovery and innovation thrive at the intersection of diverse ideas, perspectives, and academic interests. Within this setting, if you could dream up an undergraduate class, research project, or creative effort (a start-up, a design prototype, a performance, etc.), what would it be? Who might be some ideal classmates or collaborators?
    • Good prompt. Pick a class that you could be great teaching. Should be something you know well. Please avoid a STEM class. Let them see how unique you are. And open your mind to who would be a good collaborator.
    • Community and belonging matter at Northwestern. Tell us about one or more communities, networks, or student groups you see yourself connecting with on campus.
    • Ugh, another community essay. I vote to skip this one too.
    • Northwestern’s location is special: on the shore of Lake Michigan, steps from downtown Evanston, just a few miles from Chicago. What aspects of our location are most compelling to you, and why?
    • Love this one! Get to know Chicago and do a travelogue of the city. Choose only two or three things so you can really get into some detail.
    • Northwestern is a place where people with diverse backgrounds from all over the world can study, live, and talk with one another. This range of experiences and viewpoints immeasurably enriches learning. How might your individual background contribute to this diversity of perspectives in Northwestern’s classrooms and around our campus?
    • Another diversity essay. YAY! (not really) Diversity doesn’t have to be about race, ethnicity, or gender. There’s diversity of thought too. Maybe go that direction.