Unpacking the Northwestern University Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

Unpacking the Northwestern University Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

Known for its highly specialized colleges, Northwestern University attracts students from all over the world who wish to study a multitude of disciplines from communications to engineering. When you apply to this Evanston, Illinois school through the Common Application, you have to select one of the six undergraduate colleges within the university as your primary institution: 

  • The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences 
  • The School of Communication 
  • The McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science
  • The School of Education & Social Policy
  • Bienen School of Music
  • The Medill School of Journalism

While the prompt remains the same for all the schools, make sure to research what makes each of them special before making the decision to apply to the college of your choice. 

Whether you’re applying to the Medill School of Journalism or the Bienen School of Music, putting your best foot forward in the Northwestern supplemental essay 2021-2022 is a highly effective way to emphasize your interest in the university. Use your response to outline specific Northwestern resources which fit your current interests and future aspirations. To guide you through the process, I’ve outlined the prompt, the dos and don’ts for answering it, and more tips to help you tackle the Northwestern supplemental essay 2021-2022.

Prompt for the Northwestern Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are also excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community.

In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

Do you plan to complete the ''Why Northwestern'' Statement?

(We strongly encourage a response, as your answer will help us connect the dots across your application to imagine what kind of college student you might become.)

Admissions officers have learned about your interests and goals from other parts of your application, and they already personally know what features make Northwestern a great school. The Northwestern supplemental essay 2021-2022 asks that you combine those two components to answer how the unique resources at Northwestern University will be beneficial to the way you hope to grow and achieve your goals. The key to any “why this school” essay is to spend a big chunk of your time researching the college. 

You might notice on the website that Northwestern asks some questions to help you get an idea of what they’re looking for in applications. Some questions you can ask yourself before trying to articulate how you’re a suitable fit for the school are:

  1. What topics are you excited to explore? What kinds of questions drive you forward?
  2. What role(s) have you played in the communities around you? What impact have you had? How have these communities shaped you?
  3. What achievements are you proud of?
  4. What types of involvement have been the most meaningful to you? Why?

Once you’ve figured out your areas of interest and strengths, it’s time to connect the dots to Northwestern.

Start with academics—what is your prospective major and how does the program at Northwestern suit your career plan more than any other top school? How have your specific experiences prepared you for a Northwestern education? Which courses can help you achieve your goals? Are there any research opportunities or study abroad programs that can enhance your ten-year plan? Anecdotes that vouch for your commitment to the discipline are important for your Northwestern supplemental essay 2021-2022. Follow the classic “show not tell” advice and discuss instances that demonstrate that you are not just dedicated to the field on paper.

Make sure to leave at least 120 words for which extracurriculars appeal to you. Since there isn’t room to rehash your activities list, focus on organizations at Northwestern which align with your interests. Showcase your enthusiasm for opportunities that await you outside the classroom with fellow Wildcats. The more specific to Northwestern your essay, the better admissions officers can understand that you’re a strong fit for the school and how you would contribute to the community. 

Additional Tips to Write the Northwestern Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

  • Think About the Northwestern College of Your Choice: Before you sit down to write your Northwestern supplemental essay 2021-2022, you should think carefully about the specialized college you’ll apply to and tailor your essay to highlight unique program offerings at that particular school. Even though you are allowed to take classes across the different schools, your essay needs to be as specific as possible to your primary field. If you’re applying to the School of Engineering, don’t rave about classes in the School of Communication!
  • Remember to Connect Your Answers to Yourself: While it’s pretty easy to fill up a page with everything appealing about Northwestern, remember that the Northwestern supplemental essay 2021-2022 is designed to get to know you. Your answer to the question does not have to be extremely deep or existential if such a theme has no relevance to you. You need to write a 300-word essay that will help make you memorable: avoid writing about cliché features that have a hundred other essays and brochures about them.
  • Don’t Repeat What You’ve Written for Other Components: Remember that admissions officers have already seen your activities list and your personal statement through the Common App. It’s important that you cover an entirely different experience in your supplemental essay and not repeat the same reasons why you want to pursue a certain major or career. Admissions officers don’t want to read about the same thing over and over again, so you need to focus on adding new information and showcasing the depth of your knowledge about Northwestern. 


Northwestern University wants to know that you’re not just applying to the school on a whim. Taking advantage of the Northwestern supplemental essay 2021-2022 to show how the school’s resources can benefit your goals is the perfect way to convey to admissions officers that you have made an informed decision. Get started on your research as soon as possible. Good luck! 

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