Princeton 2017-2018 Supplemental Essay Prompts & Short Answer Questions

September 04, 2017

Is Princeton your dream school? Here’s everything you need to know about applying this Fall!

Located in New Jersey, Princeton University is one of the 8 Ivy League universities and one of the most competitive universities to get into. Princeton’s prestige and reputation is strong for a reason: Princeton offers students a well-rounded education with strong programs in the Humanities and the Sciences. It’s still important, however, that you do your research and learn more about the campus culture, student body and internship opportunities. See if Princeton’s really the best fit for you!

Does Princeton offer what you’re interested? If you are applying this fall, here are the short answer questions and supplemental essays for the 2017-2018 application season:  

1. Short Answer Questions

  • Your favorite book and its author

  • Your favorite website

  • Your favorite recording

  • Your favorite source of inspiration

  • Your favorite line from a movie or book and its title

  • Your favorite movie

  • Two adjectives your friends would use to describe you

  • Your favorite keepsake or memento

  • Your favorite word

TIP: Don’t spend too much time on these questions, and be true to who you are! These short answer questions are meant to help the admissions office know a little bit more about you and your personality.


2. Extracurricular Activities Supplement

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

TIP: This is a perfect opportunity for you to elaborate on an extracurricular activity you dedicated much of your high school career to. Do not panic if you didn’t do a ton of extracurriculars. While it’s impressive for students to take on a lot of different extracurricular activities, it’s equally impressive if you focused on one or two extracurricular you were really passionate about. Take the time here to tell the admissions office why this particular extracurricular activity was important to you, and what you learned from it.


3. Summer Experience Supplement

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

TIP: If you didn’t do much during your summers, don’t freak out! No matter how small or insignificant your summer experience may seem against a college summer program for example, it could still have a lot of value. Experiences are valuable not because of what you did, but because of what you took away from it. What did you learn by being a part of a summer program? What did you gain from babysitting for the summer? Your summer experiences do not have to be flashy for them to be meaningful. 

4. Additional Essay Supplement

In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application or the Universal College 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 in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application or Universal College Application.

Prompt 1: Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.

Prompt 2:“One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.”—Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics, Princeton University and co-founder of This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.

Prompt 3: “Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.”—Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and director of the Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows, Princeton University.

Prompt 4: Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.

TIP: While all these essay prompts are slightly different, they are all asking you the same question: How has it influenced your or your way of thinking? Use this supplemental essay to demonstrate your way of thinking and your values. How do others actions and thoughts influence yours, and vice versa? How do you take in new experiences and knowledge and transform the way you think or do things? As you write this supplemental essay, keep one thing in mind: show, don’t tell. 


5. Engineering Supplement

This supplemental essay only applies to applicants who indicate they wish to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Science in Engineering. 

If you are interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, please write a 300-500 word essay describing why you are interested in studying engineering, any experiences in or exposure to engineering you have had and how you think the programs in engineering offered at Princeton suit your particular interests.

TIP: If you’re an applicant pursuing engineering, take this supplemental essay into account! Take advantage of every opportunity you have to tell the admissions office something new about you. If you choose to write about your interest in engineering in your Common App essay, then use this supplemental essay to further demonstrate your passion for engineering and how Princeton’s engineering department can help you achieve your dreams. Don’t simply just reiterate what you’ve already said in your Common App essay! 

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About The Author

Frances Wong
Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.


Browse Successful Application Files

Northwestern ‘18

Accepted to Northwestern, Emory, WashU, UMich

Hey everyone, I'm a current Northwestern student (Class of 2018, although I may finish up a little early) and I absolutely love it! Admissions really is a tough time, so try to keep your head up and don't be afraid to take chances.
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, Wheaton, Pomona

I love languages, exercising, and eating!
Princeton ‘19

Accepted to Columbia, GA Tech, Northwestern, Princeton, UGA

As a part of Princeton Class of 2019, I know how difficult the application process is...I got denied, accepted, and wait-listed to several places. Let me help you find your path to success!
Rutgers ‘20

Accepted to Rutgers, NYU, Fordham, UMass, Colorado, MSU, Illinois, Arizona, Washington

Your local political astronaut with a passion for the prolific things in life.

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