2020-2021 Princeton University Application Essay Tips

At Opus College Prep, we know that strong supplemental essays are the key to a competitive application. In this post, we will be sharing our best tips for Princeton University‘s supplemental essays for the class of 2025. If you are interested in working with a college admissions expert on your responses to these prompts, schedule a free consultation with us here. We can’t wait to help you stand out!

Princeton University Prompt 2:

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (About 150 words).

This is a great question! We are so thrilled that Princeton offers students the chance to elaborate on an activity that is meaningful to them. There is, of course, a bit of strategy to how you respond to this question.

First, Princeton uses the word meaningful. Of course we don’t want to spend this time elaborating on a insignificant activity. But we also have to differentiate between what is most meaningful to you, and what would be most meaningful to an admissions officer. While it is true that admissions officers care about what matters most to you, don’t overlook a bit of strategy before responding.

Is there an activity you haven’t referenced much yet in your application that shows your leadership and mentorship skills? What about an experience that demonstrates the positive impact you have had on your community? These qualities are what admissions officers want to see from their applicants, so take that into account before responding. And remember, you only have 150 words here, so don’t repeat descriptions or phrases from the actual Activities section of the application. Continue to elaborate on what you’ve already told them about the activity or work experience that was most meaningful to you.

Prompt 3:

Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (About 150 words).

Well, Princeton is telling you directly that they care about how you spend your summers. So, if you are a younger student and are reading this – prioritize summer activities! No, this doesn’t mean you need to apply to the most prestigious collegiate summer programs. But it does mean that eating cheezits on the beach won’t go very far when it comes to college admissions.

With just 150 words, if you are a student who didn’t waste a minute of summer, consider making a list with short descriptions. We would suggest listing activities in chronological order. Include how long you spent at each activity and a brief overview of what you accomplished or learned. However, if you focused your summer months on a small number of activities, take a different approach. Spend more time discussing why they were important to you and what meaning they brought to your summer months. Key takeaways are what the admissions committee is looking for.

Remember, if you have family responsibilities over the summer, those are meaningful too! If you look after your younger siblings, drive your grandmother to doctors appointments or help your dad in a construction business – they want to know that too!

Prompt 4: Short Answer Questions

Princeton loves to offer the chance for students to respond to fun short answer questions. This section will not make or break your application. Please don’t dwell on your responses to these questions. They’re meant to be fun and give the admissions reader a new perspective into who you are.

But word to the wise. If they ask for words to describe yourself, whatever you do… do not say “hard working.” We assure you that any student applying to an Ivy League institution is “hard working.” 😊

We hope our insights are helpful as you tackle your application to Princeton for the 2020/2021 application season! Please reach out if you have questions about these prompts or are interested in personalized feedback., Schedule a consultation or email laura@opuscollegeprep.com. We can’t wait to help!

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