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5 Princeton Supplemental Essays That Worked

Ryan
by Ryan ChiangUpdated Aug. 7, 2022

Are you applying to Princeton University in 2022? Or perhaps you're a parent curious about what it takes.

If so, writing great application essays is the most effective way you can stand out.

In this article, I've gathered 5 of the best Princeton essays that worked so that you can get inspired and improve your own essays.

What is Princeton University's Acceptance Rate?

As a world-renowned college, Princeton has highly competitive admissions. Located in Princeton, New Jersey, the Ivy League school received 37,601 applications this past year and only 1,647 of those students were accepted.

That gives Princeton an overall admit rate of 4.4%, or in other words only 1 in every 18 students get accepted.

Princeton University Acceptance Scattergram

While admissions into Princeton is difficult, this only means that your application essays have more of an impact.

To have your best shot of getting admitted, it's important you write stand-out essays in response to Princeton's writing supplement.

What are the Princeton Supplemental Prompts for 2022?

This year, Princeton requires applicants to write three short essays and answer three short answer questions. Princeton also requires that you submit a graded academic paper as a part of your application.

The questions on this page are being asked by Princeton University:

Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience

  1. Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words) (1-200 words)

Your Voice

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

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? (50-350 words)

  1. Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals. (50-350 words)

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? (1-50 words)

  2. What brings you joy? (1-50 words)

  3. What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment? (1-50 words)

Princeton requires you to submit a graded written paper as part of your application. You may submit this material now or any time before the application deadline. If you choose not to upload the required paper at this time, you may mail, e-mail, or upload your paper through the applicant portal. Detailed instructions for our graded paper requirement can be found here.

Do you wish to submit a graded written paper at this time?

  1. Upload the graded written paper here. (0-2000 words)

  2. Additional Information (Optional)

Please attach a document if you wish to provide details of circumstances or qualifications not reflected in the application. (0-2000 words)

5 Princeton University Essays That Worked

Here are 5 of the best Princeton essays that worked, inclunding responses to Princeton's writing supplement.

I've also included some Common App essays written by admitted Princeton students.

Princeton University Essay Example #1

Supplemental Essay

Prompt: Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words) (200 words max)

For the past five years, I have participated in a service group called CTeen (Chabad Teen Network). It is comprised of about twenty-five Jewish teenagers from surrounding high schools. Every Sunday morning we have breakfast and class with our rabbi. We discuss current events and world dilemmas from a Jewish point of view. These discussions have deepened my understanding of Judaism and brought me closer to other members of CTeen. Through CTeen I have met many of my closest friends. My chapter annually travels to Brooklyn for a shabbaton in Crown Heights with 200 other CTeen chapters from around the world. Every year during this time I am imbued with the dedication of my community to our faith, and I experience a heightened connection to both Judaism and my friends. As president of my CTeen chapter and member of the International CTeen Leadership Board, I continue to be impacted by the authentic ideas and dedicated people I meet.

(158 / 200 words)

Princeton University Essay Example #2

Supplemental Essay

Prompt: Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (200 words max)

Two summers ago I took AP Chemistry at Northwestern University through the Equinox Program. Taking an entire AP class in five weeks was extremely challenging; I learned time management, collaboration, independent living, and scientific laboratory and inquiry skills. This course really piqued my interest in the sciences, as it was my first exposure to chemistry at the university level. I became intrigued with the research happening in the labs I saw every day. My interest in research gained from that summer translated to last summer when I participated in Boston University’s Research in Science and Engineering program as a part of the intensive molecular biology practicum. I conducted scientific research with a group of my peers and learned many facets of university laboratory work. These experiences were pivotal to my passion for the sciences and guided me towards my interests in university level work.

(144 / 200 words)

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Princeton University Essay Example #3

Supplemental Essay

Prompt: Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way. (250-650 words)

Last summer I participated in molecular biology research at Boston University. Surrounded by 39 other high school seniors, I perceived with new clarity how an inquisitive, curious mind must interact in an unapologetic manner. Entering lectures about the basics of molecular biology, most of us initially thought we knew a great deal about biology. I quickly realized my naivete, and once I accepted my own ignorance, I settled into a passive absorption mode. The looks on all our faces told the same story. Well, all of ours except Kelsey’s.

Brilliant and inquisitive, Kelsey exhibited no fear raising her hand and boldly asking questions. Even during the portions of the lectures when we were simply reviewing concepts of biology, she never ceased to question the current topic. The first few times she asked questions, I thought she had little background knowledge so she just needed clarification. Yet as the first week progressed, I realized that not only did she have the background information required for this course but also the grit and determination needed for success in research. The levels of her questions stumped our lecturer at times and he responded, “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”

Often I just wanted to yell, “PUT YOUR HAND DOWN!!!”, as my tolerance for her constant inquiry began to erode while sitting through her questions and their subsequent answers. Due to her deep and thought-provoking questions, she became the class pariah; not necessarily because she was annoying but because of her resolute and indefatigable inquisitiveness. She was insatiable in her pursuit of knowledge, like a ribosome clinging to the endoplasmic reticulum.

Yet as the course progressed, I finally began to notice the value of Kelsey’s questions. She asked questions of importance, questions researchers must ask themselves every day. Her inquiries were thoughts no one else my age seemed to have. The depth and breadth of her ideas fascinated me, especially given that she was only sixteen.

Kelsey’s questions made me realize the importance of questioning preconceived notions.

Subsequently, I became aware of my own willingness to challenge concepts that were accepted and taught as seemingly concrete, and I recognized the danger of blindly absorbing information without disputing it. Seeing the scholarly nature of Kelsey’s intellectual curiosity, I began to emulate her queries during the final few weeks of the program. Not only did I get more out of the lectures, but I also gained the experience necessary to question ideas and facts and search for answers, a vital skill in every academic realm.

As a student with an interest in the sciences, I ask questions that may not have an obvious answer. As someone who strives for knowledge, I am willing to do research if what I am asking has no answer, but I do not simply possess an affinity toward knowledge. I wish to create it. Most young people cite coaches, teachers, or other adults as influential; however, for me, a peer-modeled approach to learning also has merit.

(499 / 650 words)

Princeton University Essay Example #4

Personal Statement Essay

Common App Prompt #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. (250-650 words)

As I sat alone in a crowded airport, I felt both excitement and nervousness. I took my laptop and opened it to the Facebook profile of my third cousin Joey. I remembered how curious I was the first time I learned about his existence. He seemed just like me. I could not have been more excited, for I was on my way to New Jersey to spend spring break at his parents’ house.

It may seem strange that I was so eager to meet a third cousin, as most Americans have minimal contact with relatives as distant as third cousins. As the child of two Russian immigrants, however, I have grown up in a household where family sticks together at all costs to avoid the feelings of displacement experienced by persons leaving their homeland. Meeting distant relatives meant expanding the family tree, forming new connections, and expanding support networks. Setting down new roots by travelling to New Jersey to meet Joey not only felt right but also necessary.

After landing and meeting Joey and his mom Alla, I felt awkward; we had absolutely nothing to discuss. ​Maybe visiting people I have never met was a mistake.

That night Alla explained to me that partner dominos was a family tradition dating back 50 years in the Soviet Union. I had never played dominos with a partner. Absolutely stunned, Alla cried, “YOU HAVE NEVER PLAYED PARTNER DOMINOS? HOW THE HELL IS YOUR MOTHER RAISING YOU?” The rest of the night we played partner dominos, and let me admit, I was awful. Nevertheless, I experienced a strong sense of belonging and connection to my heritage by taking part in an old family tradition. That game broke the ice and made me realize that we share a cultural and personal connection; starting with that game, I actually felt like we were family members. Unsure of what else my mom had neglected, Alla inundated me with an entire rundown of my extended family. I learned that I could travel to almost every continent, knowing there would always be someone to whom I am related. Due to my family’s Russian heritage, I would always be welcome, adept at partner dominos or not.

A week later when I sat waiting for my flight home, I smiled. People whom I had just met, who had their own busy lives to live, took me in and made me feel welcome. At the end of the visit, I felt as if I had known Joey and Alla my entire life. I had to acknowledge that I had underestimated the need for extended family in my life. Furthermore, as I contemplated the transition from stranger to family member, my mind took me further to comprehend that whether related or not, I would live a more fulfilling life if willing to make vital connections. I consider every person with whom I forge a connection part of my “family” network, regardless of how remote. Though I had thought of “family” as merely a support system, I realized now that it is comprised of the people who, through powerful shared experiences, help one find a place in the world.

When I launch into the next phase of my life, I am hoping to forge relationships with roommates, classmates, and professors. As a global citizen, I am also dedicated to connect with others and help them find a place in this world, just like Alla and Joey did for me.

(575 / 650 words)

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Princeton University Essay Example #5

Personal Statement Essay

Common App Prompt #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (250-650 words)

Uncomfortable Truths
People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is…uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are...
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Summary

These 5 Princeton essays that worked showcase great examples of responses to the Princeton writing supplement.

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