With an acceptance rate of just 17 percent, Georgetown is ranked as an extremely competitive school. If you want to be a part of the student body, you need to impress, and one of the best opportunities you have to do that is in your Georgetown essays.
Don’t let the Georgetown essay prompts intimidate you. Though they may look complicated at first—and they do ask complex questions—some foresight and planning will help you write essays that are sure to impress.
This guide will walk you through the Georgetown essays, giving you a look into the expectations and thought process behind each of the essay prompts.
Feature Image: Patrickneil/Wikimedia Commons
What Should You Know About the Georgetown Essay Prompts?
Georgetown doesn't use the Common or Coalition Application. Instead, you’ll be filling out an application tailored specifically to their desires, though it may cover most of the same information.
Because of that, you’ll want to pay extra close attention to what you discuss in your essays. Your essays should be tied specifically to Georgetown rather than the more general approach of the Coalition or Common Application.
The Georgetown essays include one short essay of about a half-page, single-spaced, one longer one-page essay required of all students, and a second one-page essay specifically tied to one of Georgetown’s four schools: Georgetown College, the School of Nursing and Health Studies, Walsh School of Foreign Service, and the McDonough School of Business.
Students in the arts—specifically music, dance, theater, and studio art—may submit additional portfolios as part of their application, but it isn’t required.
Writing your Georgetown essays might feel something like this, but there's a clear path through!
What Are the Required Georgetown Essay Prompts?
Because Georgetown’s application is only for Georgetown, you’ll immediately notice that they’re a lot more specific than the Common or Coalition prompts. You should keep that specificity in mind as you answer the questions, thinking not just about why you want to go to a good school, but why you want to attend Georgetown specifically.
How to Answer the Georgetown Short Essay Prompt
Briefly discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved. (One half-page, single spaced.)
This question is pretty straightforward. Though you’ve no doubt discussed your extracurriculars throughout your application, this question asks you to think deeper about one of them. Ask yourself why you do those activities, and what they personally mean to you.
“Why,” not “what,” should be the question you’re answering. Flesh out your mentions of extracurriculars in your application with discussions of why you do them and what you’ve learned. The activity you discuss should be significant to you—not something you do purely for fun or something you do because your parents make you.
As with the first question, don’t inflate things to look more impressive. If you spent most of your summer watching TV, that might be relevant if you’re an aspiring screenwriter, and you can mention it—but again, answer the question of why. Why did you choose the shows you did? What did you learn from them?
That said, watching TV isn’t the best choice. You’d be better off discussing how you spent your summer working on an original short film or participating in a workshop for aspiring screenwriters—but no matter what your preferred activity, there is a way to discuss why it’s significant to you and what you learned from it.
This prompt gives you space to discuss your interests, particularly the things that can’t be represented by numbers as grades and test scores can. It gives Georgetown a clearer picture of you, which helps in their decision.
This is also a space to expand on participation. Maybe you never became captain of the swim team and you’ve been worried that the lack of leadership might count against you. In this essay, you can explain that though that was your goal, you didn’t quite make it—but that you learned a lot anyway.
This essay really is about what’s significant to you, so there are no wrong answers—it’s your execution that matters. Avoid being too general, or focusing too much on picking the most impressive thing from your roster if that thing didn’t actually matter to you. Be genuine with what’s significant to you and your essay will be stronger for it.
This essay is the perfect one to show off what makes you unique.
How to Answer the Georgetown Essay Prompt for All Applicants
As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you. (One page, single-spaced.)
Notice how the emphasis on this question is on you. This is called a “Why You?” style essay—though the application is for Georgetown, the admissions office wants to know why you’ll be a good fit for the college and what you in particular will bring to the student body.
What this means is that Georgetown doesn’t want to hear about how they have the best program or the greatest campus. They want to know about you and what makes you unique.
When answering this question, think about what makes you a good fit for Georgetown’s student body. Consider their mission statement, their origin as a Catholic and Jesuit college, and what that means today.
That doesn’t mean that you need to identify yourself as Catholic if you aren’t (please don’t do that), but that you should consider the role that faith plays in Georgetown’s approach to education. How does their mission statement connect to your own life and educational goals?
Demonstrating that you understand the school’s mission and how you can contribute to it as a student is one of the most important parts of this question.
But “Why You?” is only part of the question. The specific mention of diversity is important, too. Its inclusion in the question means that it’s important to Georgetown, and they want you to demonstrate that it’s important to you, too.
Don’t get too fixated on typical meanings of “diverse.” We often use the word to refer to the variety of genders, sexualities, races, socio-economic statuses, and so on that exist in the world, but diversity of thought is worthwhile, too. Of course, you should write about your gender, sexuality, race, and so on if it’s relevant to what you’ll bring to campus—and it often is—but don’t feel like it’s all you have to offer.
Think about what your experience has taught you, and how those lessons will contribute to Georgetown’s diverse student body. That can mean discussing overcoming socio-economic hardship, or it can mean relating how you and your seven brothers used to squabble until you realized working together got chores done faster. Everybody has a unique story to tell, and this is Georgetown offering you space to tell yours.
Georgetown invites you to get creative here, but if you want to take a more embellished approach than a traditional essay, be sure that that creativity comes through in your writing and language rather than in the events. Don’t inflate things to look more interesting or diverse than you are—this is your chance to flesh out the grades and test scores with your personality, so be sure it’s your personality that the admissions office sees.
How to Answer the Georgetown College Essay Prompt
Georgetown College is the largest undergraduate school at Georgetown University, and contains many of the school's arts and sciences programs.
What does it mean to you to be educated? How might Georgetown College help you achieve this aim? (Applicants to the Sciences and Mathematics or the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics should address their chosen course of study.) (One page, single-spaced.)
This question is asking about your personal relationship with education and learning. But more than that, it’s asking you why you want to attend Georgetown, making it a “Why Us?” essay.
When answering this prompt, think about your goals and how Georgetown fits into them. They don’t need to hear about how they’re a good school and you’ve always wanted to attend a competitive college—they already know that, and most other students also want to attend a good school. Why Georgetown specifically, as opposed to all the other possible schools you could apply to?
This is a good place to demonstrate familiarity with their mission and curriculum. Are there particular classes or faculty driving your decision to attend? Mention them!
Think holistically here. How will attending Georgetown enrich your education and help you reach your career goals? Keep their mission statement in mind as you write—consider the ideas of diversity, service to humanity, and community and how those fit into your goals.
Again, avoid generalities. Your essay should have enough concrete connection to Georgetown that you couldn’t easily swap another school’s name in and still have it make sense. Of course, there will always be some overlap with other schools, but be sure that the true spirit of Georgetown comes through in your essay.
Give yourself some time to prepare for your Georgetown essay and you'll be feeling like this.
How to Answer the Georgetown School of Nursing & Health Studies Essay Prompt
Georgetown’s School of Nursing and Health Studies is exactly what it sounds like. This is where you’ll be applying if you’re interested in any of the health care fields, which is reflected in the prompt.
Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care. Please specifically address your intended major (Global Health, Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, or Nursing). (One page, single-spaced.)
This question isn’t quite a clear-cut “Why Us?” or “Why You?” question, unlike the previous ones. Instead, it’s asking “Why Health Care?”
Again, always keep in mind Georgetown’s mission as a college: diversity, discussion, and the wellbeing of humanity. All of these things can factor into your essay in a meaningful way.
Think beyond health care being a reliable and well-paying field. Why do you want to care for people? Why the health field, specifically? Tying Georgetown’s mission into this question is a great way to demonstrate your interest in the field, but also in the specific ways that this school teaches.
In this question, Georgetown wants you to demonstrate your interest in the field. If you’re invested in health care, you’re more likely to succeed in the program. The admissions office also wants to know what passion and interest you’ll bring to the school, making you a student they want to invest in.
If you don’t already know why you’ve chosen to pursue health care over other fields, now’s the time to start thinking about it. Health care can often be thankless, difficult, and even frightening if you’re working in emergency situations. What drives you to do it anyway?
Maybe you’ve struggled with illness yourself, and you want to commit to researching cures. Or maybe you’re fascinated by the ways that disease impacts society, and you want to learn more about prevention and how to enact it on an individual basis. No matter what your career goal is, it’s important that you can explain why you’ve chosen this field over all others.
However, be sure you can tie your interest to Georgetown specifically. Your essay will be even stronger if it explains not just what appeals to you about health care, but why Georgetown is the right college to help you achieve your goals.
How to Answer the Walsh School of Foreign Service Essay Prompt
If you’re interested in international relations, Wash School of Foreign Service is likely where you’ll be applying.
Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it. (One page, single-spaced.)
Though college essays are generally not the place to launch into potentially inflammatory political topics, this question is specifically asking you to discuss a global issue. However, your answer should be well-reasoned and informed, demonstrating a thorough understanding of not just the side you agree with, but also the arguments of the opposition.
This question wants you to demonstrate your awareness of the world. As a student of foreign service, you should be acquainted with what’s happening around the world and concerned with how to address important issues. You should use this opportunity to demonstrate not only what you know, but how you think about it, keeping in mind Georgetown’s mission of diversity and care for humanity.
If you can show that you are interested in and engaged with the world, you demonstrate to Georgetown that you have a genuine interest in foreign service. But the service part is also important—don’t forget the part of the question that asks for your suggestions as to what can be done about the issue.
Though Georgetown will no doubt be impressed if you manage to truly solve world hunger in your application, don’t worry too much about coming up with a wild, unheard-of solution. You need to support your ideas more than anything, showing Georgetown how you can address issues on a global scale with thoughtfulness and an understanding of context.
Avoid focusing on an issue solely because it's a popular one if you don’t have the understanding to back it up. Georgetown wants your informed thinking on a specific topic, not an uninformed opinion on a global problem.
Poverty is a global issue with plenty of potential solutions, but it's also a complex issue with many contributing factors, all of which vary throughout the world. What's one angle that you understand well enough to speak confidently about it? A global issue is naturally going to be a big topic, but by focusing on an area you understand—such as food scarcity, a history of colonization, or climate change—your essay will be sharp and clear.
The McDonough School of Business' prompt is all about why you've chosen Georgetown.
How to Answer the McDonough School of Business Essay Prompt
The McDonough School of Business is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re attending Georgetown with an interest in business, you’ll need to answer the following prompt:
“The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.” (One page, single-spaced.)
The McDonough School of Business prompt is a classic “Why Us?” question, asking you to identify not just that Georgetown is a good school, but why it’s the right school for you and your interests.
To answer this question, consider the university’s ethos and curriculum. Look at their course offerings and consider those as well as whatever reasons you have for applying. Think specifically, not generally—beyond it being a well-respected university, what does Georgetown have to offer you that other well-respected universities do not?
Georgetown wants to hear that you’re committed to their program specifically, so answer in specifics. Identify features of their program in particular, and be sure to answer the question of why those features draw you to Georgetown.
If you have a personal anecdote about Georgetown, such as a moment on a tour, a personal connection to the campus, or admiration for a particular alumni, this essay is a good place to discuss it. If not, it’s always a good idea to use concrete specifics, such as classes and extracurriculars that appeal to you. Fold those into a discussion of Georgetown’s mission and your own career goals to paint a complete picture of why this is the right school for you.
This could be you and your new classmates at Georgetown.
What Does a Successful Georgetown Essay Look Like?
Planning an essay can be difficult as you try to weigh what the school might want against everything you could possibly cover. Thankfully, there's at least one successful Georgetown essay out there you can read in its entirety:
"Listen, girl. He's over 60 and speaks no English. There is no way we would hire him." His tone was rude, but I sadly understood why my dad wasn't hired. I faced my hopeful dad and watched his smile drop as I told him that Dave just remembered that they hired someone yesterday and that they really couldn't afford to hire anyone else. My dad was disappointed, but nonetheless he graciously shook Dave's hand and thanked him for his time.
Job searching is difficult for everyone, but in a world full of Daves, it's almost impossible. Daves are people who look at my family and immediately think less of us. They think illegal, poor and uneducated. Daves never allow my dad to pass the first round of job applications. Daves watch like hawks as my brother and I enter stores. Daves inconsiderately correct my mother's grammar. Because there are Daves in the world, I have become a protector for my family. I excuse their behavior as just being a "typical American." I convince my mother that they are only staring at her lovely new purse. I convince my dad they are only shouting about store sales to us. Aside from being a protector, I am also an advocate. As an advocate, I make sure my family is never taken advantage of. I am always looking out for scams and discrepancies. I am the one asking the questions when we buy or sell a car. I make sure all details are discussed and no specifics are left unanswered.
It’s not hard to see why the writer was accepted to Georgetown. This essay clearly demonstrates her experience and understanding of the world. The last paragraph is a great example of how to turn that experience into something actionable—she wants to go into public service, politics, or diplomacy because of how she’s helped her parents and the bigotry she’s witnessed as she’s done so.
We know from reading exactly what the writer will bring to Georgetown: an understanding of the world and the way it’s treated her and her family. She demonstrates her understanding of diversity clearly, which answers the first prompt—it shows what makes her unique as well as what she’ll contribute.
The essay shows her personal story and how that’s influenced her lifelong plans. Because the admissions office understands where she comes from and the essay finishes with where she hopes to go—as well as covering some of the obstacles she’s overcome—they have a complete picture of her as a student.
One area the essay could be improved is strengthening the connection to Georgetown specifically. This essay is quite strong—she did get into Georgetown with it—but spending a little more time reflecting on how her life experience connects to Georgetown’s mission would give it a little extra oomph. As it is, this could be an application essay for pretty much any school. Drawing a clear connection from your experiences to the college you’re applying to demonstrates a stronger degree of interest, making your essay stand out.
Prepare ahead of time and your Georgetown essays will be far easier.
Key Points of Advice for Georgetown Essays
No matter which prompts you're answering, it's a good idea to follow general advice for your Georgetown essays, too. Though the application for Georgetown is unique to the school, it still follows most of the common rules of college applications, so be sure to read up on some common tips for college applications.
#1: Read Prompts Carefully
Don’t just answer the surface-level question. You have quite a bit of space to answer each of these, so read each one carefully, understand the deeper questions it might be asking, such as “Why You?” and be sure to answer those as well. Brainstorming will be a huge help here, as you can get all of your ideas out and select the ones that support your point the best.
#2: Connect Your Story to Your School
When you're writing "Why Us?" essays, think about your story—the things that have made you who you are, your ambition, your goals—and add in how Georgetown is the next step on your journey. Think beyond that it has a good reputation or that lots of impressive people have graduated from there. Draw a clear line between you and Georgetown by tying your experience in with its curriculum and mission statement. This will demonstrate that you’re not just reusing the same essay for a bunch of schools, and that Georgetown is your real goal.
#3: Edit and Revise
Editing and revision are your best friends when it comes to a polished Georgetown essay. Don’t just fire off a draft and call it good. Spend some time planning, writing, editing, and revising, being sure to start early so you can let your drafts rest between readings.
Spending more time will take some of the stress out of writing and let you put in more effort to get it into shape. The longer you have, the more thought you can put into it, so start early!
Give yourself plenty of time to get your Georgetown essay done by staying on top of all the deadlines for your application.
What else do you need to get into your dream school aside from stellar essays? This guide has all the requirements to get into Georgetown.
Even if you're not going to Georgetown, you should understand the college application process from start to finish. This helpful guide will walk you through applying to college starting from your freshman year of high school!
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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.