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The Ultimate Guide to Acing the Princeton Supplemental Essays 2021/22

21 SEP 2021

Like most other universities, Princeton is looking for essays that show introspection, personality, insight, and thought process. Although Princeton has low acceptance rates, these essays can help you stand out in your application.

How to stand out in your Princeton Supplemental Essay for 2021

This year, the prompts ask for deep thought and emotional experience. Be specific, honest, and forthcoming. There is no reason to withhold important thoughts or revelations (as long as you can fit them in the word count!). As with the common application, these essays ask that you "dig deep."


Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admission consulting company. Our expert admission strategist can help you narrow down your ideas and word choice to help you craft the perfect essay prompt response. Get your essay reviewed today!

What are the Princeton essay prompts for 21/22

Prompt 1: Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience

Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words.)

Prompt 2: Your Voice

Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.

  1. At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
  2. Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.

Prompt 3: More About You

Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!

  1. What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
  2. What brings you joy?
  3. What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?

Us Supplemental Essay Ebook

How to answer Prompt 1


Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words.)


How to Write About Extracurricular Activities and Work Experience

For this first short answer question, the key word is meaningful. This essay isn't just an opportunity to brag about an additional accomplishment (although it's ok if this essay ultimately includes one!). It's an opportunity to discuss an experience you've had outside of school that you feel gets buried by the rest of your application. Since it specifies an "extracurricular activity," it likely wants you to write about something that appears on your Common App list of extracurriculars but does not appear elsewhere in your app. Writing an anecdote rather than a mere summary is advised.

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to choose an activity that contrasts with your intended major because it shows your diverse interests and gives your application more texture overall.

How to answer Prompt 2


Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.

1. At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?

2. Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.


How to Approach Your Voice Essays

The Your Voice essays should be approached much like the original Common App essay because many of the same standards apply, including deep insight or self-reflection, grammatically correct language, and compelling language that is clear and concise.

For the first prompt, list several examples in your life where you had to assess, convince, or understand a new perspective. Pick the one that is the most nuanced and complex and where you show your flexibility and capacity for hearing others' opinions and processing them.

For the second prompt, list experiences you've had where you helped others directly or worked for an organization that helped others indirectly. Try to match one experience with a club or group that Princeton offers that has a similar message or helps a similar population. Use your time to show the specific places you can see yourself using the skills you have acquired. If you can identify an unmet need at Princeton, see if you possess the skills to lead a new club or group which fulfills this need. Try to end on a sentence that shows the reader what you hope to accomplish at Princeton in the future.

Remember, every applicant has the same prompts; how can you make yours stand out? How can you creatively spin the meaning of these quotations? How can you take that meaning and apply it to your value system?

These prompts are asking for deep reflection. The committee wants to know how you see yourself and the values you hold as a person.**
As a refresher, please reference our Common App criteria (available here: Essay Criteria 2019-2020.pdf).**

How to Answer Prompt 3


Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!

1. What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?

2. What brings you joy? 

3. What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?


Make Every Word Count

You can only answer these very personal questions. Here you have a chance to show your humor (if you believe that you are a humorous person), your ability to know yourself, your imagination, and your dreams. As with all the supplemental answers, try to be specific, original, and truthful. As you have few words to express all your thoughts, make sure that what you choose to put into your answer is how you want to be perceived.

Final Thoughts

Now is the time to dig deep. Supplemental essays help Princeton admissions learn more about you and why you would be the perfect fit for their campus community. Don’t hold back. Let the real you shine through.

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admission consulting company. Our expert admission strategist can help you narrow down your ideas and word choice to help you craft the perfect supplemental essay responses. Get your essay reviewed today!

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