9 Accepted Northwestern Essays for 2019

Example Common App Essays and Supplements
Home Essay Database Northwestern University
Last updated on March 5, 2019
Northwestern

Introduction

Ryan Chiang
By Ryan

Northwestern University is situated in the suburban setting of Evanston, Illinois, about 12 miles from downtown Chicago. Located right on the shores of Lake Michigan, Northwestern combines a gorgeous campus with a strong academic environment. Northwestern's five most popular majors are economics, journalism, communication studies, psychology, and political science.

As a world-renowned university, Northwestern is highly selective. This past year Northwestern was ranked #10 by USNews and World Reports and out of over 40,000 applicants for the class of 2022, Northwestern accepted only about 3,400, making its 2018 overall acceptance rate 8.4%.

In order to get your best shot of acceptance to Northwestern, your essays must make you stand out from the thousands of other qualified applicants. Below are some accepted Common App essays and supplements written by a real student who was accepted by Northwestern University.

Enough of an introduction, let's jump right into the essays!

Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in the essays and supplements have been replaced to keep the authors' privacy.

EssaysThatWorked does not condone nor tolerate plagiarism. Do not copy, reuse, repost, or modify any part of the written works posted on this site without express written consent.

Northwestern University Essays

Table of Contents

Common App Essays (4)


Common App Essay #9

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

“A plate of spaghetti, six pieces of chicken nuggets, a bowl of fish soup, and a plate of French fries covered in chili sauce. And, don’t forget the dessert, make it warm chocolate with milk. Oh… I could also use that 500ml lemonade as you process the order please.”

The disbelief printed in the face of the waiter as he scribbled my order confirmed to me that he definitely heard me right. I get that look a lot and I kind of got used to it. In fact most of my friends have teased that my extremely huge appetite is a genetic disorder. Well if you ask me, I think they just envy me.

I come from a family that most people would refer to as humble although I think we eat as ‘Royalty’. Ma spends her day either preparing for the next meal or cleaning up after the previous one. Meals are the only time, if you were lucky enough, you could slip in a request to Papa and at least get a promise. Further, when anyone got sick, they would first be served with twice their average consumption as the first medication; if symptoms persisted then you could see a physician. The ‘chiemo,’ Ma’s name for our meals, was guided by one rule, ‘Your plate had to be cleared regardless of how much food you were served.’ Probably that and Ma’s belief that food consumption was directly proportional to physical and intellectual growth, are responsible for my eating tendencies.

As I grew older and started going to school, I picked up a habit that anytime something made me uncomfortable, whether it was a sum or Sam the bully, I would seclude myself and devour whatever Ma had packed in my lunch box. Surprisingly once I was satisfied, my mind was composed and I could think straight or face my fears. I rode under this without noticing any oddity till I got to high school.

School was thousands of miles from home. All my conscious childhood memories were made inside our camp bubble and I hadn’t as much as stepped out the camp let alone travelled that far. Papa and Ma hadn’t gone to high school and had no advice whatsoever to help me cope. I remember Ma looking into my teary eyes promising to bring me as much food as she could the next time she was allowed into the school.

The subsequent weeks were rough as I not only kept unsuccessfully asking for extra portions but also had to bear the perplexed stares from fellow students. When I eventually adapted to the rations, I had a change of perspective. I got a deeper understanding of addictions as mind illusions that we are totally dependent on some amounts of different substances which couldn’t be further than the truth. That prompted me to join my school’s guidance and counselling team where I shared my story to counsel fellow students who were reported to be drug addicts.

Since then through my appetite for different taste of food I have learnt to identify and appreciate different cultures in my country. For instance when served beef I could identify the economic activity, geographic location, and even guess the mood of the cook by looking at the sizes, the amount of soup in the stew, and how precisely the spices have been added respectively. This has led me to appreciate our different cultures in defining who we are and celebrating our diversity.

However, control over my appetite doesn’t mean it got any smaller. When I miss home, I eat. When I code, I eat. When I am worried, I eat. When people get worried that I eat too much, I eat. The only difference is I have a choice, but mostly I still chose to eat.


Common App Essay #83

Written by Anonymous Student

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.
(650 words max)

Chubby fingers outstretched and round cheeks flattened against the window, I leaned further into the plexiglass. Although I could feel a firm hand tugging at my shirt, urging me to sit back in my seat - at ten, I possessed little concept of manners (or sanitary awareness), both of which I abandoned as I refused to cease standing on the chair of the CTA train - at the moment, all that mattered was that I was soaring above the streets of Chicago. Eyes darting across the ever changing expanses of the city, I refused to lift my gaze in fear of missing anything.

For the first time, I was taking a trip in the belly of a gargantuan silver beast, known familiarly to most Chicagoans as the “L.”

What distinguishes the L from its relatives - the Tube, le Me?tro, the MTA - is its ability to burst through concrete and asphalt streets to rise above, guided only by wood and steel, and glide through the towering skyscrapers that dot the Chicago skyline. It elevates and cultivates a sense of infinite wonder in its riders, from the all-too-serious businessmen I’ve caught gazing dreamily out the windows to the young children futilely yet passionately attempting to balance in the center of the car as the train weaves throughout the city. From that first ride to the present day, my fascination with the inner and outer workings of the L and its passengers has refined itself to an infatuation.

Each ride presents a chance to ponder the overlooked, to question the seemingly mundane: You can quantify the number of people that find themselves teeming through the L’s sliding doors, but can you quantify their experiences? Who is that woman, man, student, small rodent, and what is their story? I adopt the lenses of journalists, economists, marketers, sociologists, historians, and the mere fellow passenger to analyze: the placement of an ad for Planet Fitness adjacent to an ad for Pizza Hut, the change in the racial makeup of passengers as the train travels North to South, the origin of unassuming stains or abandoned books. More recently I pondered, if they say the beat of a butterfly’s wings can induce a hurricane halfway across the world, can a five minute train delay get me into college?

The L is a catalyst between my vim mind and the seemingly elusive outer world, a seventy-five cent silver chariot that I can ride to whatever adventure I see fit. Since that first ride, I persist in search of the optimal collection of train stops, forging a mental map of Chicago shaped by my life experiences - all accessible by a simple swipe of a ventra card. The multitude of train lines that branch from the L’s “Loop” are dotted with my discoveries. The boathouse, where I strain my vocal chords from hours of training (and hours of laughing with my teammates). The school, where I test the waters of political responsibility, explore the depths of socioeconomic research, and conquer the wakes of edits delivered on my reporting for the newspaper. The small urban farm, located in a former project, that I help create and cultivate each spring and summer.

My thirst and and hunger for the knowledge of anything and everything was, and remains, insatiable. This train, this beating artery, pumping from the birthplace of the city to its outer reaches, is what quenches my thirst and satiates my hunger. Riding the L not only gave me the access to pursue rowing, a liberal education, and volunteerism; it forged a sense of adventurousness deep into the synapses of my nerves, a sense driving me into the intersections of journalism, student government, fashion, and aiding my beautiful city. That first L ride instilled the interests that lie within me, passions that subsist on experiencing life at its fullest and engaging my sponge-like intellectuality. I thrive on discovery; It defines who I am.


Common App Essay #107

Written by Anonymous Student

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
(650 words max)

I have seen 2017’s Power Rangers exactly five times in theaters, and it was the best 50 dollars I ever spent.

There is nothing extraordinary about a movie filled with gaping plotholes, inconsistent writing, and cheesy cliches: what makes Power Rangers unique is its diversity. The content we consume should properly represent our world, and Power Rangers does just that. The film’s positive representation of marginalized groups is a stepping stone for Hollywood; four out of the five rangers are people of color, one is autistic, and another is queer.

Power Rangers wasn’t the catalyst for my passion regarding diversity, but it demonstrates how eagerly I will consume anything with realistic representation. From as early as elementary school, I knew that, as an Asian girl coming home to watch the Disney Channel, there were few people who looked like me whom I could idolize. My white friends could relate to the shows’ families, yet my household customs never appeared on screen. The few Asians that did appear faded into the background, forgotten by the audience or reduced to racist caricatures.

Ironically, I never realized the harmful effects of this erasure until I discovered proper Asian representation. Believing that my race made me inferior in our white-dominant society, I unconsciously succumbed to the “reserved and quiet” Asian stereotype, purposefully shying away from the spotlight. When I finally saw Asians as protagonists, my craving for diverse media grew, and I sought to learn as much about the importance of minority representation as I could. The countless TED talks and think pieces I discovered, which described the conundrum of marginalization I had encountered, helped me come to terms with the experience, and to recognize the need for change.

Despite the contemporary push for female-driven narratives, I know that Hollywood’s fixation on “white as default” remains (Leia and Rey from Star Wars, Wonder Woman and Black Widow of DC and Marvel Comics). I know that when storylines showcasing cultures of color become popular, producers want to cast white actors for roles - even if whitewashed movies have collectively lost $500 million in revenue over the years. I know that LGBT characters of color are virtually nonexistent. I know that the problem extends beyond actors to people behind the scenes, that most scriptwriters, directors, authors, and producers are still straight white men.

As someone whose identity has historically been ignored by the media, my existence is validated by the rare but increasing presence of Asians in books, movies and TV. Seeing Asian content creators use their platforms to talk about the importance of representation and their firsthand experiences in fighting bigotry inspires me, in turn, to engage in my own brand of activism. I’ve participated in a panel about race relations following a school incident in which we discussed topics ranging from the danger of whitewashing to living life as a minority - ideas I’ve pursued more intensely in my blog. Additionally, I co-founded my school’s first multimedia magazine in the hopes of offering others a means of self-expression. I continuously challenge myself to push past society’s ideals of what I can and cannot accomplish; by using my voice, I strive to educate others while simultaneously educating myself.

With a college education, I hope to further explore the damaging psychological effects a lack of representation or, worse, erasure of representation can cause, and study ways to reverse or even prevent them. Most importantly, we must make it easier for marginalized groups to share their stories. After all, if more people start advocating for more diversity, positive representation will emerge - a recent example being Hidden Figures, whose empowering portrayal of black women was universally praised and inspired people everywhere.

My race and gender will always play a huge part in who I am. So instead of letting the media dictate how people like me are perceived, I am ready to write my own narrative.


Common App Essay #110

Written by Anonymous Student

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
(650 words max)

I was 4.

Blue blanket in one hand, cookie monster in the other, I stumbled down the steps to fill my sippy cup with coffee. My diplomatic self gulped down his caffeine while admiring his Harry Potter wands. My father and I watched the sunrise through the trees and windows. I cherished this small moment before my father left, disappearing in and out of my life at the wave of a wand, harassing my seemingly broken, but nevertheless, stronger, family.

I was 10, and my relationship with coffee flourished as my father vanished. I admired the average, yet complex beverage and may have been the only ten-year-old to ask for a French-press for his birthday. Nonetheless, learning to craft intricate cups of coffee became my favorite pastime. I spent hours studying how to “bloom” the grounds in a Chemex or pour a swan. Each holiday, I would ask for an aeropress, an espresso machine. I became a coffee connoisseur, infinitely perfecting my own form of art.

As the years went by--I was 11, 12, 13--I began to explore the cafes in Pittsburgh with my grandmother, capturing them through our shared love for photography. Coffee (one of the few positive memories I have of my father) is also the bridge that allows my grandmother and I to converge our distinctly different backgrounds into one harmonious relationship. Inside quaint coffee shops, we would discuss pop culture, fashion, and the meaning of life. We made it our mission to visit every cafe and document them not only through the camera lens, but also through the conversations we shared.

I was 16 years old, and working at a family-owned coffee shop training other employees to pour latte art. Making coffee became an artistic outlet that I never had before. I always loved math, but once I explored the complexities of coffee, I began to delve into a more creative realm--photography and writing--and exposed myself to the arts--something foreign and intriguing.

When my father left and my world exploded, coffee remained a light amongst the darkness. As the steam permeates my nostrils and the bitterness tickles my tongue, I learn a little more about myself. The act of pouring water over grounds allows me to slow down time for a moment, and reflect upon my day, my life, my dreams, and my future. When I dive into a morning cup, I take a plunge into the sea of the self, and as I sip, am struck with the feeling that coffee is a universal link between cultures. I picture my great grandmother sitting on her front porch in Rome, slurping LaVazza and eating her coffee-soaked biscotti. Every cup takes me back to my heritage, forces me to reflect upon where I came from and where I must go, and who else, in another world, is sipping the same drink and reflecting upon the same principles. You see, coffee is like the ocean. It bridges two culture, two lands, two brains, all through conversation, exposure, exploration, but by one medium. I do not see it as simply a beverage, but rather, a vehicle for so much more.

At 18, coffee is a part of who I am--humble, yet important, simple, yet complex, and rudimentary, yet developed. As I explore new coffee shops, I explore a new part of myself, one once hidden beneath the surface of my persona. My grandmother and I--we are conquistadors of the cafe scene, conquering the world one coffee shop at a time and, in the process, growing endlessly closer to each other and ourselves. Coffee has allowed our relationship to flourish into a perpetual story of exploration and self-reflection.

Now, I often think about my father and how someone whom I resent so much could have introduced me to something I love so much. It is crazy to think that it took losing him for me to find my true self.

Supplemental Essays (5)


Supplemental Essay #10

Written by Anonymous Student

Other parts of your application give us a sense for how you might contribute to Northwestern. But we also want to consider how Northwestern will contribute to your interests and goals. In 300 words or less, help us understand what aspects of Northwestern appeal most to you, and how you'll make use of specific resources and opportunities here.
(300 words max)

The only reason I fear going for lunch in a hotel is probably because I wouldn’t choose between fried chicken and roasted meat and so is my dilemma over my college major. The multifaceted whole brain approach at McCormick, however, grants me the perfect opportunity to pursue my interest in Computer Science whilst acquiring the appropriate skills in entrepreneurship to a one day startup as an innovator.

As a NU computer scientist, I particularly look forward to Software Development EECS 473 – NUvention: Web, through which I would not only learn intricacies of Software development, but have related studies in real time software development in relation to market requirements in CS+X that would form a base for a startup. That would also provide a bridge for me to join Prof Todd Warren at Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation where I would specifically join the NUvention; Web + Media. Through this unparalleled program I would have the intimacy of working in a team with fellow wild cats towards an innovative business project. The results of which will be an introduction to the Northwestern Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) through which I look forward to gaining practical exposure in launching businesses to the general public.

Outside McCormick, I would be excited to pursue the Managerial analytics Certificate program at Kellogg to acquire intelligent business management skills, let off steam at SPARK exploring hacks while fostering entrepreneurial habits, and eventually joining preparations for the Benedictine Eagle Invite at the Henry Crown Sport’s Pavilion (SPAC) with the NU track club. I may not the best of singers, but I do have intense phases of music obsessions and where best to let it off than taking non major classes at Bienen and, joining one of the numerous Acapella groups as I await Armadillo day!


Supplemental Essay #11

Written by Anonymous Student

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.
(250 words max)

I held my breath as my trembling fingers, made for the enter key, my eyes glued to the screen savoring every moment. In a split of a second, the results of my sleepless nights were imprinted on the screen.

>>>syntax error

I felt my eyes became watery but I quickly forged a smile convincing myself I wasn’t about to cry.

However disappointed I felt that moment, it wasn’t something new to me. I am not a natural programmer and I have failed more than a million times when running my codes. In fact, I have gotten used to failing, that anytime I get it right on the first attempt I assume I got lucky and I redo the code. Every time I get a syntax error I have eventually learned something new from the code. It’s at these moments that I have learnt more about my world.

Through coding, I have learnt to appreciate shortcomings in life as room for improvements. I have come to understand being raised in a camp in Chalbi dessert is a chance for me to have the first-hand experience of what needs to be done to make the world a better place. I stopped being disappointed I was born in a less tech-savvy country and seen it as an opportunity for me to create an impact with the much I have learnt. I understand with every syntax error, every life obstacle, I learn and take a step closer to a perfect code, achieving my dreams.


Supplemental Essay #84

Written by Anonymous Student

Other parts of your application give us a sense for how you might contribute to Northwestern. But we also want to consider how Northwestern will contribute to your interests and goals. In 300 words or less, help us understand what aspects of Northwestern appeal most to you, and how you'll make use of specific resources and opportunities here.
(300 words max)

Think Purple: Aspiring journalist dreams of being a Wildcat F?iled under ?A?dmissions?, ?Top Stories

After brochure browsing, website wandering, and campus canvassing what felt like hundreds of different schools, it took [Author name] exactly 32 seconds on the Northwestern University campus to realize she had found the one. “Northwestern is undefinable in the best way, an addicting hub of intellectuality, creativity, and school spirit - something especially appealing to a football lover,” laughed [Author Lastname]. “But what excites me most about NU is the opportunity to study at the Medill School of Journalism.”

A writer with hopes of becoming a foreign correspondent, [Author Lastname] has always been drawn to people and their stories, especially those completely unfamiliar to herself and her experiences. Once learning she could start on day one at Medill acquiring investigative journalism experience writing an enterprise story and end on day 600 with a journalism residency and international experience already under her belt, she was hooked.

“Conducting groundbreaking research on the socioeconomic disparities in the CPS system for the Medill Justice Project, spending a semester abroad reporting on cultural crisis in Greece, interning at the Post - at Medill, my options are boundless,” remarked [Author Lastname]. “I could explore the world of print news writing in-focuses for the Daily Northwestern, dabble in magazine editing laying out spreads for North by Northwestern, even try my hand at broadcast reporting for WNUR.” A journalist at heart, [Author Lastname] is fascinated with the intersections of other disciplines. As an NU student she would be free to engage her passions for international studies and business through outside concentrations in addition to investigative journalism, uncovering the adventures (and discovering the tenacious Wildcats) that lie between Evanston and the shores of Lake Michigan.

“My story is just beginning,” said [Author Lastname]. “And Northwestern is the perfect lede.”


Supplemental Essay #108

Written by Anonymous Student

Other parts of your application give us a sense for how you might contribute to Northwestern. But we also want to consider how Northwestern will contribute to your interests and goals. In 300 words or less, help us understand what aspects of Northwestern appeal most to you, and how you'll make use of specific resources and opportunities here.
(300 words max)

Why Northwestern? Because this introduction was so difficult to write; because I cannot possibly summarize these reasons in one introductory sentence. Simply put, my interests span across a wide range, and Northwestern has a place for them all.

As an enthusiastic programmer and advocate for positive minority representation in the media, I hope to combine both these interests and conduct research on the influence of media on society. To my delight as a prospective communications major, the School of Communication's research labs showcase project topics ranging from the depiction of STEM in media to improving digital communication. I look forward to taking advantage of the high-quality research, internship and even career opportunities offered to explore my ideas.

My multiple passions keep me creative and energetic, and I plan to continue pursuing them at Northwestern. With years of editing and writing experience for school publications under my belt, for instance, I hope to join the staff of Helicon and North by Northwestern.

Last but not least is the constant school spirit and sense of inclusion present within campus. During my campus tour, each tour guide seemed genuinely excited to introduce prospective students to the school. As my particular tour guide described the quarter system and tradition of guarding and painting the rock with passion in her eyes, I knew that only at Northwestern could I find students as enthusiastic about the school itself as they are about their majors. I also spotted many students of color while visiting; as an Asian woman, Northwestern's focus on diversifying reassures me that not only will I not be judged for my background, but that I will get to meet students of all ethnicities and cultures.

College is a time of self-discovery, and I firmly believe I can see my dreams become reality at Northwestern.


Supplemental Essay #111

Written by Anonymous Student

Other parts of your application give us a sense for how you might contribute to Northwestern. But we also want to consider how Northwestern will contribute to your interests and goals. In 300 words or less, help us understand what aspects of Northwestern appeal most to you, and how you'll make use of specific resources and opportunities here.
(300 words max)

I felt the cold sheets beneath me and the beeping sounds of a monitor next to my bed, my chest moving up and down and my body sinking into the mattress. I opened my eyes and was greeted with a plastic surgeon holding the cyst that was once in the corner of my eye. Medicine, I decided, was my destiny.

Flash forward to 8th grade, the year I decided to read 100 books. Emerson, John Green, Ernest Cline--you name the author, I read them. I became instantly inspired to learn to write like the wonderful authors I had read. So, writing, I decided (maybe), was my destiny.

Wait--or was it medicine?

Well, perhaps it can be both.

The thing I find most striking about Northwestern is its emphasis on the word “AND.” Northwestern students can love computer science AND music theory, poetry AND Latin History, journalism AND business--I can love science AND English. At Northwestern, my interests would not be hindered by strict and unwavering guidelines. Rather, they could be effortlessly streamlined and integrated into one another. I could go from ?PSYCH 361--Brain Damage and the Mind to ENG 206 - Reading and Writing Poetry to Carol Clayberger’s Lab to continue my extensive research on T-lymphocytes, similar to that I conducted at UPMC. I would be learning each level of the human psyche, communicating my thoughts through writing, and putting them into action through my research.

At Northwestern, I plan to take advantage of the various resources that would enable me to pursue my passions, find new ones, and combine them into one, pulling from both sides of my brain. I know that I am right for Northwestern and Northwestern is right for me because we have a mutual understanding of what education should look like--emphasis on “AND,” not “OR.”


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