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Harvard’s creative ‘letter to your roommate’ essay versus their less creative/more serious essays

MaanniMaanni 6 replies4 threads New Member
Harvard asks for one supplemental essay at the end of their application, and it seems for the most part required. They ask that students write an essay focusing on something either of their own choice, or from a list of prompts. There is one prompt that stands out to me that I would like to write on:

“What you would want your future college roommate to know about you.”

However, here are some of the other essay topics:

“How you hope to use your
college education”

“Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities”

The Harvard College Honor code declares that we "hold honesty as the foundation of our community." As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty. “

I think it goes without question that to roommate prompt is much more naturally a ‘show us you are creative’ prompt while the other essay topics encourage a much more serious attitude. I want to ask: what would be the benefit of choosing the roommate prompt? Surely, it is a chance to have some fun and show colleges a bit about you; but the other prompts also allow you to do that albeit in a very different way, while also allowing you to address other questions/things about you that wouldn’t naturally fit in to the roommate essay.

Are there any Harvard students who wrote the roommate essay and got in? Did you take a more playful/creative approach or something more analytic?

What would you guys say are the reasons to pursue the roommate essay over others? I really want to write that one, but that’s just because I want to have a little fun in my application—so far, my whole application has talked about me investing myself in my special interest, the things I’ve learned from my activities/ECs, and how I’ve learned from people/matured in how I see people. I have a roommate at my high school and think this prompt resonates with me because I know what it’s like to have a roommate—but does that really matter? Would it be worth choosing this prompt to add a little creativity and fun in my essay, while I could be sacrificing some more introspection/deeper look at parts of me?
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Replies to: Harvard’s creative ‘letter to your roommate’ essay versus their less creative/more serious essays

  • skieuropeskieurope 40797 replies7594 threads Super Moderator
    edited August 2019
    Honestly, you're overthinking this. If you want to write the roommate essay, write the roommate essay. If you don't, don't.

    IMO, there is not "right" essay prompt. There is no "right" approach or tone to the essay. Yes, IME, the main idea is to help the AO get a better sense of what makes you you. And only you know which prompt best fits that bill.

    FWIW, I do think the roommate prompt calls for introspection and reflection. You can still inject humor, but save any stories for how you like to sleep late or listen to Ariana Grande or play beer pong for the housing application if you get admitted. Good luck.
    edited August 2019
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • mathmommathmom 32893 replies160 threads Senior Member
    I agree with skieurope.

    My son hated that roommate essay - at the time he applied only Stanford had a version of it.The year he applied to Harvard one of the Harvard choices was a list of books you'd read that year. Not much room for creativity! You should write the essay that YOU can write best. My kid, very much an engineer type, was best served by having an option that was not an essay at all. If the roommate essay inspires you, write that one.
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1274 replies3 threads Senior Member
    Kids approach prompts in many different ways. Which, I guess, is one reason they are used in admissions. My S loved writing to the "roommate" essay.
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