College Essays

University of Pittsburgh – Supplement

Prompt: In lieu of an essay or personal statement, we ask interested applicants to answer a short answer question. The Admissions Committee reviews responses for quality rather than length. However, the most effective responses typically range from 200-300 words per question. Responses that are longer or shorter are acceptable. The question is required for Pitt Honors consideration.


If I were to change anything in the world, I would banish the wicked pain of stubbing a toe. It is such a small injury (toes compose only approximately 0.5% of the human body); however, something so seemingly insignificant can ruin a large percent of someone’s day. It  saddens me to think human beings, a species capable of complex and extrinsic thinking, are so affected by chair legs and table corners.

I understand there are bigger issues to take up in this world: international conflicts, rising climate temperatures, corrupt politics, biased or censored media, the increased incidence of mental illness, violent racism and gender inequality, and even the chance of nuclear warfare ripping apart our world. However, for society to begin tackling these larger issues, every individual needs  to be their best self: open to compromise and willing to listen to other people’s perspectives. 

And it is impossible, unfair, and even cruel to expect complete open mindedness from individuals when we each are so consumed by our day-to-day inconveniences. How can we even begin to think of solutions to end world hunger when we have deadlines to meet, bills to pay, and injured toes to take care of? 

We walk through this world so afraid of table corners that we forget to look at the banana peels beneath our feet, about to trip us up and cause a catastrophe. 

That is why, in order to change the world, if I could change anything I would start by banishing the pain of a stubbed toe. By ridding people of the minor issues that cause such egocentric considerations of life, we would finally have the freedom to start finding solutions to more threatening conflicts. Plus, we would be finally free of fearing those menacing table corners.

Tips for Writing:

My method for writing these open-ended supplements is to write out a list of possible ways to respond to the prompt– making sure that each idea conveys an aspect of my personality that I would like for the college to see– and then picking my favorite idea. I then begin writing without concern for any word limit. Write out multiple drafts, see what flows and cut down to fit the word count as a final step. When writing these kind of supplements, it’s very easy to get caught up in trying to make some kind of elaborate metaphor, however you want to avoid overcomplicating the concept of your supplement.You’re advertising yourself to this college, but don’t try selling yourself too hard: write about what you’re passionate about, show the college who you are without sounding “braggy,” and have fun with it!

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