Princeton’s Supplemental Essays: Tips & Advice

Princeton’s application includes several supplemental essay prompts that give applicants an opportunity to express themselves, their experiences, and their aspirations. These essays are a crucial part of your application, and crafting well-thought-out responses is essential. In this guide, we’ll dive into each of the supplemental essay prompts to help you navigate this challenging aspect of the Princeton application.

Understanding Princeton’s Supplemental Essay Prompts

Princeton typically offers a set of prompts each year, which may change. It’s vital to grasp the nuances of these prompts and what the admissions committee is looking for in your responses. Let’s explore each of the current prompts:

Prompt 1: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.

This prompt invites you to share a snapshot of your life beyond academics. Choose an extracurricular activity or work experience that has had a significant impact on you. In about 150 words, describe it, focusing on the “why” and “how” it shaped you. Share what you’ve learned, the challenges you’ve faced, and how it aligns with your personal values and goals.

Prompt 2: In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no fewer than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed the way you approach the world.

For this prompt, you’re given a choice of several themes to explore. Select the theme that resonates with you the most, and share a personal story that relates to it. Your goal is to illustrate how a specific person, event, or experience influenced your values or your perspective on the world. Make sure to connect the theme, the story, and your personal growth in about 500 words.

Prompt 3: Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects with these ideals.

In this prompt, Princeton seeks to understand your commitment to service and civic engagement. Share your experiences in these areas and how they align with Princeton’s values. Whether you’ve been involved in community service, activism, or volunteer work, use about 350 words to describe your involvement, the impact you’ve made, and the personal growth it has brought about.

Crafting Outstanding Responses

To excel in these essays, remember the following tips:

  • Be Concise: Princeton has specified word limits for each prompt, so make every word count.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: Use vivid anecdotes and concrete examples to illustrate your points.
  • Authenticity: Be genuine in your responses. Avoid writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear.
  • Revision and Proofreading: After writing your essays, revise and proofread carefully to ensure clarity and correctness.


Princeton’s supplemental essays provide a valuable opportunity for you to stand out and demonstrate your unique qualities. Take the time to reflect on your experiences, share your stories, and convey your alignment with Princeton’s values. With thoughtful responses to these prompts, you can increase your chances of impressing the admissions committee and securing your place at this prestigious institution. Good luck with your Princeton application!

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