Harvard University has released its essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2026. So what sorts of questions will applicants to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based institution be asked to complete this year? Well, it’s not so different than in years past and it all starts with the school’s typical activities question. Their prompt reads, “Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences” Applicants are asked to respond in 150 words. It’s a question some other elite universities happen to ask as well so one can get some mileage out of this essay prompt for multiple schools.
Harvard’s next essay prompt reads, “You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:
– Unusual circumstances in your life
– Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities
– What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
– An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
– How you hope to use your college education
– A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
– The Harvard College Honor code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
– The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
– Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?
– Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.”
Of course, as our loyal readers know all too well, no essay that is “optional” in elite college admissions should actually be considered optional. Why would an applicant not wish to use all of the real estate the school offers an applicant to make their case? Now, there is one prompt that Harvard asked last year that does not make an appearance on this year’s application — and, frankly, we’re glad to see it gone. It was a list. It read, “Your intellectual life may extend beyond the academic requirements of your particular school. Please use the space below to list additional intellectual activities that you have not mentioned or detailed elsewhere in your application. These could include, but are not limited to, supervised or self-directed projects not done as school work, training experiences, online courses not run by your school, or summer academic or research programs not described elsewhere.” Applicants were asked to answer that prompt in 150 words but not any longer since it’s no longer on the application.
Have a question about the 2021-2022 Harvard University essay prompts? Let us know your question by posting it below. We look forward to hearing from aspiring applicants to the Harvard Class of 2026!
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