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Barnard Writing Supplement Questions

In addition to the personal essay which you will submit through the Common Application or QuestBridge, Barnard asks first-year applicants to respond to institution-specific Writing Supplement questions. We recommend spending time to thoughtfully consider these questions and your responses. Your answers to these questions, in conjunction with the rest of your application, will help the Admissions Committee understand how you may contribute to our community both academically and personally.

Below are the Barnard Writing Supplement questions for first-year students. Please note that the questions may change from year to year.

  • Required: Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we navigate the world and see ourselves. Tell us about when, where, or with whom you feel your most authentic, powerful self. How might Barnard College further cultivate this version of you? (250 words max)
  • Required: Barnard College celebrates intellectual risk-taking, and we believe that academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What questions do you have about the world around you, and why do they matter to you? (250 words max)
  • Optional: As a college for women, “Barnard embraces its responsibility to address gender issues in all their complexity and urgency to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.” How have you thought about gender in your academic life thus far and how has it shaped your learning experiences? (250 words max)
  • Optional: Barnard College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mission statement says “Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has the potential to disrupt and transform entrenched practices and thinking.” In what ways have you challenged ideas, practices, or spaces? What did you learn from these experiences? (250 words max)
  • Optional: Pick one woman — a historical figure, a fictitious character, or a modern individual — who you’d like to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask her? (250 words max)

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Barnard Supplemental Essays 2023-24

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One of the key steps to getting into Barnard is writing your Barnard College supplemental essays. Like many top schools, Barnard uses supplemental essays to learn more about their applicants during the admissions process. Before we start our discussion of the Barnard supplemental essays, let’s learn a bit more about Barnard.

In this guide to the Barnard supplemental essays, we’ll go over Barnard’s essay and application requirements. Mainly, we will discuss the required Barnard college essays, like the Why Barnard essay, along with the optional Barnard essays. Throughout, you’ll find tips on approaching the Barnard College essays and advice on how to get into Barnard.

Ready to get started? First, let’s review some quick facts about the Barnard College application process.

Barnard Essays: Quick Facts

Barnard college supplemental essays quick facts.

  • Barnard Acceptance Rate: 11% – U.S. News ranks Barnard as a highly selective school. 
  • Why Barnard essay
  • Intellectual curiosity essay
  • Gender essay
  • Challenging ideas essay
  • One woman essay
  • Barnard Application: Students must submit their application through the Common Application or Questbridge . Be sure to have your Barnard supplemental essays and all other required materials ready when you submit your application.  
  • Early Decision: November 1
  • Regular Decision: January 1
  • Barnard Supplemental Essays Tip: The Barnard acceptance rate is highly selective, so your Barnard College supplemental essays must be pristine if you want to gain acceptance. Give yourself plenty of time to rethink and revise your drafts to make sure your ideas are clear and compelling. Then, make sure you do a close, proofreading edit of your final draft – pristine essays don’t have typos!

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website.

More info on Barnard

Barnard College is a private, liberal arts women’s college located in New York City. Founded in 1889, Barnard was the first college in NYC to offer degrees to women. Barnard consistently ranks highly among women’s colleges and is currently ranked #11 in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News.

The college is affiliated with Columbia University , another highly prestigious school in New York. This partnership allows Barnard students to share academic resources with their Columbia student counterparts across the street. So, it should be no surprise that Barnard, like Columbia, is quite selective. That means you’ll need to ace all parts of your application, especially the Barnard College supplemental essays, to gain admittance. Let’s get into it.

Does Barnard have supplemental essays? 

Yes, Barnard College has supplemental essays, which are incredibly important. They contribute greatly to the overall impact of your application and are vital to crafting your personal narrative . Your Barnard College essays, in combination with the rest of your application, should paint a picture for Barnard Admissions. Who are you, and how will you contribute to the Barnard community?

The Barnard supplemental essays give you the perfect opportunity to stand out among other competitive applicants. Some of the Barnard supplemental essays, like the Why Barnard essay, are required, while others are optional. Whichever prompts you choose to answer, be sure to address the questions with thoughtful and unique responses.

When choosing how many Barnard essays to submit, consider the writing process. You’ll want to brainstorm , plan, edit, and revise your Barnard supplemental essays several times before submitting them. Consider your Barnard supplemental essays as critical personal reflections – there are no shortcuts to achieving depth and cohesion in your essays.

As previously mentioned, there are required Barnard essays and optional Barnard essays. Let’s start with the most important: the required Barnard essays.

How many essays does Barnard require? 

barnard supplemental essays

In addition to your Common Application or Questbridge essays , first-year applicants must submit responses to the Barnard supplemental essays questions. Currently, Barnard requires two Barnard supplemental essays and allows students to write responses to three optional prompts. For the best shot at overcoming the Barnard acceptance rate, we recommend submitting responses for all five Barnard supplemental essays.

Currently, each of the Barnard supplemental essays allows responses of no more than 250 words. So, while completing all five Barnard essays sounds like a lot, they do not require long responses. The goal of the required Barnard supplemental essays is to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity, interest in Barnard, and personal values.

One of the required prompts is a Why Barnard essay, while the other pertains to curiosity. Both the required and optional essay prompts are outlined below.

What are the Barnard essay prompts? 

Barnard’s application provides prompts for two required Barnard supplemental essays and three optional Barnard supplemental essays. Below are the Barnard Writing Supplement questions for first-year applicants. (Remember, the Barnard supplemental essays may change from year to year, so be sure to visit Barnard’s Admissions website.)

Why Barnard Essay

barnard supplemental essays

The Why Barnard essay requires you to explain why you want to attend Barnard College. Many colleges and universities ask students to write a Why This College essay as part of their application. A Why This College essay should include the specific details that have drawn you to the school. Additionally, it should demonstrate how you would fit into the campus community. The Why Barnard essay is no different!

The Why Barnard supplemental essay prompt is as follows:

Why Barnard College Essay Prompt

Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we navigate the world and see ourselves. tell us about when, where, or with whom you feel your most authentic, powerful self. how might barnard college further cultivate this version of you.

This prompt requires you to explain to the admissions team why you think Barnard is the best college for you. Specifically, they want to know how the college will impact your personal growth and future goals. While the Why Barnard essay may seem simple, you’ll want to make your answer as rich and detailed as possible.

Your Why Barnard essay should be specific to Barnard’s academic experience and offerings. To best prepare your response to the Why Barnard essay, research Barnard’s curriculum, location, campus culture, and values. Being informed about Barnard will help you craft a more compelling Why Barnard essay.

Focus on the qualities that set Barnard apart from other colleges and universities. If you want the experience of living and learning in New York City, tell them why Barnard specifically. Be specific and purposeful when answering the Why Barnard essay prompt. And, rather than writing a long list, focus on only the most important details.

Remember, the Why Barnard essay is a required component of the Barnard application. Be sure to invest adequate time and energy into writing a compelling response. Want to read more about Why This College essay prompts and other college essay prompts? Check out our 8 College Essay Topics guide! You can also find Why Barnard essay examples and other Barnard essay examples here . 

Barnard Supplemental Essay #2: Bold Questions

barnard supplemental essays

We’ve talked about the Why Barnard essay. Now, let’s talk about the second of the two required Barnard supplemental essays:

Barnard College Supplemental Essay Prompt #2

Barnard college celebrates intellectual risk-taking, and we believe that academic inquiry starts with bold questions. what questions do you have about the world around you, and why do they matter to you.

The key to this prompt is in the wording. Make sure your interest is framed as a question/questions in the context of academics. If your topic doesn’t relate to an academic area of study, it probably isn’t a strong topic for this essay.

This prompt is a great place to touch on something the admissions team may not know about you yet. Or, you could elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities that relates to a topic you are curious about. However, be sure to focus on the framework of the prompt. For instance, don’t just state that you are interested in robotics and are on your school’s robotics team. Share the questions your experiences have prompted in you, and why you are driven to find answers to them.

Even though this isn’t a Why Barnard essay, it’s still an opportunity to show you are a good fit for Barnard. Barnard values critical thinking, openness, engagement, and diversity. How can you embody these values in your approach to your chosen topic?

Because the choice is yours, you get to set the narrative. Be sure to choose something you are genuinely passionate about or that is thought-provoking for you. An uninspired essay may fall flat and won’t give admissions the same idea of you that an inspired essay will.

Optional Barnard Supplemental Essays

There are three optional Barnard supplemental essays. However, just because they are optional doesn’t mean you should skip them. The highly selective acceptance rate requires you to stand out in every way possible. So, you should take advantage of all the optional Barnard supplemental essays. 

The three optional Barnard supplemental essays cover a spectrum of topics. This is valuable because they allow you to demonstrate yourself as a well-rounded and culturally competent individual. To help you feel confident approaching these additional essays, let’s go over each prompt in more detail!

Barnard essay #1 – Gender

barnard supplemental essays

Here is the first optional Barnard supplemental essay prompt:

Barnard College Optional Essay Prompt #1

As a college for women, “barnard embraces its responsibility to address gender issues in all their complexity and urgency to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.” how have you thought about gender in your academic life thus far and how has it shaped your learning experiences”.

In developing your response, you’ll want to demonstrate how gender has played a role in your studies so far. While not explicitly asked in the question, you’ll also want to consider how it’s ultimately impacted your desire to attend Barnard. Women’s-only colleges offer a unique academic experience, which you may want to touch on in your essay. 

A successful essay will reflect on your personal experience with concrete support. It may be helpful to ground your essay in a specific anecdote or situation you’ve found yourself in. Maybe there was a moment when you felt gender was somehow an obstacle to your learning. Or, maybe you’ve noticed patterns or made connections between gender and different topics you’ve studied.

While technically optional, writing a reflective, insightful, and motivated response to this prompt can significantly strengthen your application. This is a great opportunity to connect to Barnard’s values, especially given gender is highlighted in Barnard’s mission :

“As a college for women, Barnard embraces its responsibility to address issues of gender in all of their complexity and urgency and to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.”

Barnard supplemental essay #2 – Challenging ideas

barnard supplemental essays

The prompt for the second of the optional Barnard supplemental essays is as follows:

Barnard College Optional Essay Prompt #2

Barnard college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion mission statement says, “our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has the potential to disrupt and transform entrenched practices and thinking.” in what ways have you challenged ideas, practices, or spaces what did you learn from these experiences.

Barnard is looking to enroll in a class that is culturally competent and shares the same values and mission. This essay requires you to demonstrate your relationship with cultural diversity. How has it shaped your identity and what have you learned from it? This Barnard College supplemental essay prompt requires the student to be personal, specific, and vulnerable.

Your response can be broken up into two parts. First, you’ll need to detail the specific experiences you’ve had challenging others. Maybe you’ve had discussions in your church group or with your family where you question the status quo. Or, maybe, you’ve created opportunities to hold space to discuss conflicting and challenging ideas. Whatever your experience, make sure to touch on what you learned from it. How did this particular experience help you grow, and what lessons will you take with you into the future?

Barnard essay prompt #3 – One woman

barnard supplemental essays

Finally, we have the fifth Barnard College supplemental essays prompt:

Barnard College Optional Essay Prompt #3

Pick one woman — a historical figure, a fictitious character, or a modern individual — who you’d like to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. why does this person intrigue you what would you talk about what questions would you ask her.

Prompts in this style are common across college applications. If you could pick anyone, who would you invite to dinner or coffee? Since Barnard is a women’s college, it makes sense that this prompt is interested in knowing which woman you would choose. 

This Barnard College supplemental essays prompt really gives you free rein. Use the opportunity to develop yourself beyond your academic accomplishments. This Barnard College supplemental essays prompt presents multiple questions. Be sure to answer all components of the prompt entirely. It is important to remember there is a 250-word count max, so you will have to balance being clear and succinct in your response with addressing all three questions. 

Start by brainstorming a list of women you would be interested in writing this essay about. Just as with any of the prompts, you should not pick a woman to write about with the sole purpose of sounding impressive. Remember, there is no right answer. Be sure to write about a woman you are truly curious about and explain your reasoning. The admissions team should be able to feel the inspiration behind your choice. 

Are these Barnard essays really optional? 

The optional Barnard College supplemental essays are not a technical requirement of the application, so yes – they’re really optional. If you don’t feel like you have something to say that speaks to your character or values – don’t worry. You won’t be penalized for not writing all five essays. However, if you’re truly excited about attending Barnard, you’ll certainly have something valuable to speak on in response to these prompts.

If you’re passionate about attending Barnard, show admissions you’re invested by writing all five essays. The more essays you write, the more the Barnard admissions team gets to know about you. Not only that, but the essays allow you to control the narrative of your application. Taking the opportunity to write the optional Barnard College supplemental essays demonstrates your willingness to go above and beyond!

Choosing which essays to write 

There are many reasons to write optional Barnard College supplemental essays, but let’s start with some reasons why you should not. When choosing which optional essay prompts to respond to, you should consider your passions, strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t write optional Barnard College supplemental essays just for the sake of writing. Admissions officers will be able to spot this misguided and uninspired attempt from a mile away. Only craft a response to an optional essay if it is purposeful and passionate.

With that being said, the more essays you write, the better chance you have of letting Barnard get to know the real you. Use the optional Barnard College essays prompts as an opportunity to elaborate on yourself and your interest in Barnard College. These essays are especially useful if you feel like your academic portfolio is not an accurate reflection of who you are as a student and a person. 

When choosing which Barnard College essays to write, read the prompts carefully so you can answer the question fully. Barnard College supplemental essays provide you with an opportunity to provide additional information to the admissions committee. However, avoid repeating yourself or recycling information found elsewhere in your application. Writing about different topics demonstrates that you are a well-rounded applicant who will contribute to various aspects of Barnard’s community.

5 Tips for writing outstanding Barnard essays

barnard supplemental essays

Tip #1 – Start early

Writing outstanding essays that beat the highly selective Barnard College acceptance rate requires ample time to plan, write, and revise. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the application deadlines and current supplement questions, especially the Why Barnard essay. Most importantly, make sure you have budgeted enough time to write both required and all three optional Barnard supplemental essays.

Tip #2 – Show, Don’t Tell

Use the Barnard supplemental essays as an opportunity to show the admissions team who you are beyond your academic achievements. The best way to do so is by painting a vivid picture and engaging the reader with stories. If you claim to have certain traits, qualities, or values, you should demonstrate these with specific anecdotes and actions. Use this technique to make your application come alive and your essays shine . 

Tip #3 – Write authentically

We’re sure you have heard it before, but the most vital aspect of any successful college essay is being yourself. Your Barnard supplemental essays should accurately reflect your experiences, values, and interests. Don’t write what you think the admissions team wants to hear. Being true to yourself has the power to demonstrate your unique perspective and strength of character. 

Tip #4 – Be clear and concise

Your Barnard supplemental essays are limited to 250 words. So, you have to make every word count and showcase your ability to communicate effectively. Narrow your thoughts down to your strongest arguments and most valuable experiences and only elaborate on these. This will make it easy for you and the admissions team to follow your reasoning and connections between points!

Tip #5 – Leave time to proofread and revise your essays 

Your Barnard essays are evaluated for content as well as writing style and grammatical skills. When you think you have finished your Barnard College essays, you should:

  • Proof-read for spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Edit out unnecessary words or phrases
  • Ensure you have responded directly to the prompt and have answered all parts of the question.

Before you submit, it’s a good idea to get input from trusted sources. While you should consider external input, it is vital that you maintain your own writing style and voice. That way the admissions team gets to know the real you. 

Be sure to use these tips to help you plan your own Barnard essays! And, feel free to refer to this guide when you begin your Barnard College essays writing process.

Barnard Supplemental Essays: Final Takeaways 

If you’re looking for a final takeaway, it’s this: prepare careful and thoughtful responses to all of the Barnard supplement questions. While your grades and test scores are important parts of your application, they aren’t enough to gain admission. Your Barnard essays have the power to round out your application and help you stand out in a competitive application process. Use your supplemental essays to tell the admissions team who you are beyond your academic achievements. Wow them by showing the Barnard admissions team something they won’t see anywhere else in your application.

If you want more advice pertaining to Barnard College, check out this guide on how to get into Barnard College. And, take a look at past Barnard essay examples for inspiration while writing your own. Want to learn more about going to school in Manhattan? Get the inside scoop on what it’s like to attend NYU, Columbia, and Barnard by watching this webinar . 

We hope this guide has helped you better understand the Barnard College essays and how to get into Barnard. Whether you’ve just started your college list or you are already working on your application – CollegeAdvisor has tips for you. Happy writing!

barnard supplemental essays

This essay guide was written by Bailey Bennett. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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Want to see your chances of admission at Barnard College?

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Barnard College’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Self realization short response.

Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we navigate the world and see ourselves. Tell us about when, where, or with whom you feel your most authentic, powerful self. How might Barnard further cultivate this version of you?

Intellectual Curiosity Short Response

Barnard celebrates intellectual risk-taking, and we believe that academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What questions do you have about the world around you, and why do they matter to you?

Gap Year Short Response

In the box below, please indicate if you are considering a deferral to Fall 2025 if you are offered admission for Fall 2024. Please note that admitted students will be required to submit a deferral request form with a detailed outline of their plans by February 2024 for students admitted through Early Decision and by April 2024 for students admitted through Regular Decision.

Science Pathways Scholars Short Response

The Science Pathways Scholars Program (SP)2 aims to support underrepresented students of color and first-generation students as they pursue careers in science research. Please discuss your interest in science research and future career goals. You may choose to reflect on past experiences or projects, role models, or ideas for research that you would like to explore.

Select-A-Prompt Short Response

If you would like to respond to one of our optional questions, please choose from the selected prompts below:

Barnard’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion mission statement says “Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has the potential to disrupt and transform entrenched practices and thinking.” In what ways have you challenged ideas, practices, or spaces? What did you learn from these experiences?

As a college for women, “Barnard embraces its responsibility to address gender issues in all their complexity and urgency to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.” How have you thought about gender in your academic life thus far and how has it shaped your learning experiences?

Pick one woman — a historical figure, a fictitious character, or a modern individual — who you’d like to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask her?

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

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.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

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?

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.

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barnard college essay examples

How to Write the Barnard College Essays 2019-2020

barnard college essay examples

Barnard College is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, just across the street from Columbia University. This women’s college was founded in 1889 when Columbia refused to admit women. Since then, it has flourished as one of the premier women’s colleges in America. Barnard offers a traditional liberal arts curriculum to its 2,600 students and has a very competitive acceptance rate of 11.3%. 

Barnard requires two supplemental essays for all applicants, plus additional essays for applicants to the HEOP Scholars Program, Science Pathways Scholars Program, and Arts Program. Read on to learn how to tackle this year’s prompts! Want to know your chances at Barnard? Calculate your chances for free right now.

How to Write the Barnard College Essays

The first two essays were removed partway through the admissions cycle. They are no longer required on the Common App, but we left them here for reference.

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words) **REMOVED PARTWAY THROUGH THE APPLICATIONS CYCLE. NO LONGER REQUIRED.**

Think of the activity in which you’ve shown the most commitment, or the one that has shaped you the most. Is there an activity that has equipped you with new skills, strengthened your personality traits, or changed your perspective? Activities like these tend to be the best subjects for your essay.

If you already elaborated upon the activity to which you’re most dedicated in your Common App essay, pick the “next best” activity. You want to make sure you’re sharing different aspects of your personality. You should also avoid activities that “look good” on a resume, but you don’t have a strong passion for, as this will show in your essay. 

A strong extracurricular essay is not about your achievements, as those can be learned about via your activities list. Instead, a strong extracurricular essay is about two things: your state of mind in the moment you participate in an activity, and how that activity has helped you develop skills and positive personality traits. This can be achieved by either a deep dive into an anecdote that prioritizes in-the-moment reflection, or a reflection interspersed with at least one anecdote. 

For in-the-moment reflection, you can take the reader to a specific experience that stands out in the arc of your extracurricular. Maybe it was auditioning for the lead role of a play for the first time and the nervous excitement you felt. You can also choose to narrate something more mundane but equally important, such as your daily soccer practice and the thoughts in your head as you dribble. 

The vital thing to remember is to incorporate reflection into your writing, not just to tell a story. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of your anecdote without showing how the extracurricular shaped you. Let us know what skills you’ve developed because of the activity, what personality traits have been strengthened, and whether the activity impacts the way you live other parts of your life.

If you don’t want your anecdote to span the entire essay, you can take the route of reflection interspersed with one anecdote. In this case, the opening of your essay might take us to a specific moment as you do your activity, which can be 20-30% of the essay, but the rest should be devoted to how the activity impacted you.

Who in your life is depending on you? What are they depending on you for? (250 words) **REMOVED PARTWAY THROUGH THE APPLICATIONS CYCLE. NO LONGER REQUIRED.**

You may not have entered the so-called “real world” of postgrad life, but there are already people who depend on you to meet their needs big and small. Applicants often choose a family member, friend, or teammate as the subject of this essay, but remember that you can pick a more creative focus too; your garden, the ingredients you cook with — basically anything is fair game as long as the topic reveals more about who you are, and the subject isn’t too far of a stretch .

To get started, describe why and how this person/thing depends on you. Maybe you support your family financially by working at the local grocery store. Maybe your volleyball teammates depend on you to organize bonding events. Maybe you tutor a classmate in math and help boost their confidence. Maybe the vegetables in your garden depend on you to be watered and cared for.

If you have responsibilities for someone that exceed what is required of your typical American high school student, be sure to use this space to discuss that dynamic in your essay. For example, if you have a child or financially support another family member, this is the place to describe that relationship.

Even though you are writing about someone/something that depends on you, make sure the focus of your essay is still you. Show us your responsibilities and how this relationship has shaped who you are.

What factors influenced your decision to apply to Barnard College and why do you think the College would be a good match for you? (100-250 words)

You want to consider a few factors when crafting your response to this prompt. 

First, identify what you are looking to get out of college in general. What excites you about embarking on this journey?

Next, think about what Barnard does best. You may want to do some research on the school, including scouring the school website and making a visit if it’s possible.

Write about the intersection of what you want and what Barnard has to offer. Be as specific and enthusiastic as you can. You can include the names of professors, courses, clubs, or programs on campus to show admissions officers that this school has what you need to fulfill your dreams. 

Maybe you’re a prospective psychology major who wants to one day work as a lawyer. You could mention the Forensic Psychology course, which explores the role of psychology in legal situations. In the class, you would cover relevant questions such as: What is the risk of a violent offender repeating the offense? What kinds of information influence juries? This class fuses two of your passions, and would help prepare you for your career in law.

Or, maybe you’re passionate about arts education and want to join Meet Me At the Museum, a group dedicated to providing educational museum tours to elementary school students. Be sure to mention at least one extracurricular aspect of Barnard, along with at least one academic one. Attending college is not just about what you do in the classroom, but also how you engage with the campus and broader community!

Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about? (100-250 words)

It’s time to get creative! The sky is the limit when it comes to answering questions like this one. The more personal and unique your answer is, the better.

While you can choose absolutely anyone, we recommend selecting a figure about whom you know a good deal and consider a role model. Many applicants might choose Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, or JK Rowling even though they don’t really relate to them. Their stories are so widely discussed as to feel like common knowledge, but you want to come across as someone with a deeper understanding of whomever you select. 

A better example might be someone like Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teen climate change activist. Maybe you, too, are an environmentalist, and you admire Thunberg’s staunch dedication. You might ask her about her transatlantic sailboat crossing and how she recommends talking about climate change with others. Remember that you can also pick a fictional character. Maybe you would like to sit down with Aibileen, one of the main characters in The Help . You might ask her whether writing has helped her find closure in her son’s death and the harsh reality she faced as a Black woman in the sixties. You would discuss with her the current state of race relations in the U.S. and hear about how things have changed, or not.

What’s most interesting about this essay is not who you pick as much as why you pick her. You can and should give a brief summary (50-100 words) of who she is and what she’s done (especially if she’s lesser-known), but most of your essay should focus on the hypothetical conversation (150-200 words). What questions would you ask her? What would you tell her? How do you think the two of you would get along, and why? Use this essay to reveal more of your interests and the qualities you admire in others.

barnard college essay examples

Applicants to the HEOP Scholars Program

Describe the impact that an academic or personal challenge had on you during high school. how did you overcome the challenge what sources of support did you utilize along the way (100-250 words).

This scholarship exists to help students who have not had the same privileges as others excel in a college setting. The brief essay helps admissions officers figure out who will benefit most from this gift. In the few words you have, you want to write an essay that shows you can overcome major challenges.

With that in mind, we recommend writing about a pretty significant setback you have faced. A lot of students don’t feel comfortable writing about challenges they have faced. They think it’s too personal.

While it is always your call what to put in an essay, we encourage students to be as vulnerable as they can be for this prompt. Unless you show the admissions officers what you have overcome, they have no way of knowing how you’ll react to challenges in the future.

As you write about a particular challenge you have faced, be sure to emphasize the ways in which you have overcome it. For that reason, be sure to pick a past challenge rather than something you are working through currently.

Focus on what you did to resolve the issue. By the end of the essay, your readers should feel as though you have succeeded even though the odds were stacked against you.

Applicants to the Science Pathways Scholars Program for Underrepresented Minority and First-Generation Students

Please outline your interest in pursuing science and scientific research. you may reflect on your past experiences, discuss your role models, or describe your educational and career goals. (350 words).

If science is your passion, the committee for the Science Pathways Scholars Program wants to know it. This essay offers you the opportunity to explain what drives your scientific curiosity directly to the people who decide whether to grant you the scholarship.

When you first read the prompt, you may notice that it’s really broad. It asks for information about past experiences, role models, future goals, basically an outline of everything that makes you want to pursue science.

The good news is that you DO NOT have to address each of those areas in your essay. They have provided a list to give you ideas, but the question you really want to focus on is, “Why does pursuing science matter to you?” Feel free to use any anecdote that speaks to that core question, even if it doesn’t fall neatly into the categories given by the prompt.

Since most people learn best by stories, it’s a good idea to think of one or two turning points in your pursuit of science so far. Maybe learning about someone else’s work made you want to follow in their footsteps. Perhaps you made your own exciting discovery in a science class.

Try to remember one or two of the defining moments in your relationship with science, and portray it in your essay. From there, go on to explain the reasons why that defining moment sparked or deepened your love of science.

“Passionate” is the best tone for this essay. After you write your essay, give it to a trusted friend or mentor and ask, “Does this essay make it sound like I really want to study science?” If the answer is a resounding yes, then you are spot-on.

Applicants to the Arts Program

Optional: artist’s statement—briefly address your choice of medium, influences, themes, or approaches you feel would help us in understanding the sample you have submitted..

While this essay is optional, it is common for artists to write about their work. Keep in mind that this is not a creative essay. Your creativity is already on display in the art itself. Instead, keep your Artist’s Statement short and sweet.

Spend no more than two paragraphs introducing your work. If a few words will help the committee experience your work with new eyes or ears, be sure to share. Otherwise, simply state the medium and title of each piece.

You can use technical jargon, but on the whole make sure your statement is understandable even to someone outside your field.

Here is an example:

I have included photographs of my paintings for your review. All featured works use oil paints on canvas. I prefer this medium for the vast palette it offers and in honor of Vincent Van Gogh, whose art has inspired my own.

In all my paintings, I try to capture optimism in the face of adversity. The first image, “Acadia,” is an open air work inspired by the mountains of Acadia National Park. The three self-portraits explore light, texture, and color respectively. The two still life paintings, “Lilac” and “Lily” can be viewed separately or as a diptych. Photographs of each one on its own and of the two together are included. Thank you for your consideration.

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Barnard College Undergraduate College Application Essays

These Barnard College college application essays were written by students accepted at Barnard College. All of our sample college essays include the question prompt and the year written. Please use these sample admission essays responsibly.

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College Application Essays accepted by Barnard College

Harmony anonymous, barnard college.

Entering the music room in LaGuardia Community College for the first time, I sit down before the upright piano and take out Mozart's Fantasy in D Minor. It is a simple piece, but one of my favorites. It consists of three parts, the first with a...

The Summer Volunteer Anonymous

Ping! The elevator doors opened on Floor Nine, and I was in another world. Leaving the chaos of panicking patients and bustling doctors in the floors below, I found myself walking down a deserted hallway.

This was my first day volunteering at the...

A Newfound Nostalgia Katherine Perry

Describe an aspect of your childhood/upbringing that shaped the person you are today.

In a navy blue Volvo station wagon my entire childhood evolved. Inside, memories rested alongside the hardened French fries and squashed fruit snacks that lined...

Crack & Grow Up Grace Anzalone

I firmly believe that antidrug campaigns whose values instill the “just say no” attitude in elementary school children should be extended to encompass the wretched habit of knuckle cracking. I have done it since I was a young tot, I am told, which...

A Fork Rose Tran

I have encountered a fork. Should I again submit to my father’s demands as I am sent to the kitchen to serve or should I refuse and risk tainting my role as the ideal Vietnamese daughter? I succumb, and fetch a repulsive-smelling platter of duck,...

Walking My Dog Anonymous

Every morning before I go to school, I take my dog, Buxton, on a walk around the neighborhood. It is a very mundane task, but because of the struggle I faced to finally own Buxton, the time I spend with him each morning is special to me. I had...

"We've Done It." Wong Jia Yi Geraldine

I wish I could do it all but I’m no superwoman; I’m just an ordinary girl with 24 hours a day. Deciding to write and direct for DramaFest, an intra-school Drama competition, meant sacrificing other clashing commitments including leading in...

The Backyard Anonymous

I remember when the flowers stopped blooming.

All throughout my childhood there was always one thing that would instantly make me happy. I had a beautiful backyard in my childhood home. The smell of the ripe red mango trees and the chirping of the...

Augusta, Nice to Meet You Najaad Dayib

With as much grace as I can summon, I'd begin a conversation with Augusta Savage by thanking her. I’d tell her, “Thank you. Thank you for being a warrior in the Civil Rights Movement, for following your passion and being a great educator, artist,...

Fighting Sexism with Lightsabers Loie Plautz

“This Jedi is female, so she’s not as smart.” The young man, Max, chortled this to his scene partner as our improvised Star Wars play came racing towards its climax. I stood backstage, suddenly feeling jarred. My character throughout the play had...

Feminist Photographer Anonymous

Behind the camera’s shutter, I am never calm or collected. I am, more often than not, trying to figure out my next shot, my eyes darting from my subject to the light source to a detail of the scene. However, I am perfectly content.

When taking...

A Place in the Sky Anonymous

There’s something oddly comforting about sitting in an airplane and barreling through the sky at 37,000 feet. Granted, the food could be better and the seats a little bigger, but I’ve never been able to find a place quite like this one. When I’m...

A Meaningful Place Sophie Lis

The soft reminder of warm light, the neat rows of novels and biographies and volumes of poetry against mahogany shelves back to back in a literary continuum… I walk further into Barnes and Noble. Swim in circles around the small brown tables in...

Virginia Woolf Sophie Lis

The thick aroma of yellowed pages wafting in and out the small library room, I sit on the small stool, knees hunched together nervously, my back bent over in a style that would render Rodin pleased. In the first glimpse of the tip of the large...

Majoring in Unafraid Anonymous

“There is a one percent chance of rain,” my camp counselors told us as we packed for our overnight. We threw in just what we needed, leaving our raincoats behind.

The next day, after a trek through the beautiful Yosemite backcountry, it began to...

Tea with a Trailblazer Anonymous

If given the opportunity to sit down with any woman and converse for an hour, I would select Jeanine Tesori, the first woman to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score. Tesori is credited with composing the musicals Fun Home, Thoroughly Modern...

Why Barnard? Anonymous

When I was in eighth grade, during the 2012 Presidential Election, I ran to represent President Obama in my American History class’ mock election. Despite the obvious differences between the President and myself, I believed that with preparation,...

The American Dream in All Its Flavors Anonymous

My childhood included everything from waking up to my mom’s dramatic wake up calls in the mornings, eating ice cream from the carton with my siblings, rough-and-tumble play with my father, to family dinners at our Chinese restaurant, filled with...

Being the Next Generation Role Model Anonymous

Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, awed me when I first met her at Fashion Institute of Technology. Originally a politician who became the first Indian American woman to run for Congress, Mrs. Saujani had no technological skills to...

K-Pop Blooms a Thousand Stories Anonymous

It was my turn to speak.

The Korean girl across the table and I had spent the past hour in a back-and-forth of stilted conversation. Our pre-collegiate institute had demanded that all disciplines “mingle,” and the silence told a story of two...

Jaggery Shyla Singh

The alarm heralding the dawn becomes redundant as a mix of dread and excitement has kept me up all night. It’s 5 am. Today I will compete in my third Junior National Equestrian Championship in Pune at the National Defence Academy.

I’ve determined...

How Grief Helped Me Recognize My Vulnerability Anonymous

I search “how to grieve properly” in the naive but hopeful belief Google knows the answer. An article tells me “broken crayons still color.” This strikes me as not only condescending but false. I am in pain and I am healing, but I am not broken....

Barnard as a Catalyst for Self-Discovery Audrey Pettit

In childhood, amid Barbies and pink wallpaper, I had the privilege of ignorance. But when I was catcalled by a man twice my age, the uncomfortable reality came into focus. At age thirteen, I realized my gender influences how others perceive me....

The Incredible Barnard Community Anonymous

“We’re so close... We can just talk on and on,” the Barnard tour-guide said to our group, laughing. To my surprise, she wasn’t talking about a relationship with a faculty member, as was customary on college tours. She was actually talking about...

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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Barnard Supplemental Essay Prompts

barnard college essay examples

Barnard College is a private women’s liberal arts college that is found within Columbia University. It is located in the heart of the city that never sleeps, New York City. Barnard is extremely selective as its acceptance rate lies around 11%. So, how do we help make you a part of that 11%? In order to apply, students must complete two Barnard supplemental essays and one optional Barnard supplemental essay.

Before you begin answering the Barnard supplemental essay questions, it is important to do your research. Find out what parts of Barnard excite you and differentiate from other colleges. Here’s our guide for how to ace the Barnard College supplemental essay questions!

Before answering the essay questions 

All Barnard College applicants have to respond to two required 250 word maximum Barnard supplemental essays. There are also three additional optional Barnard supplemental essays that also have a 250 word maximum, 

250 words is not a lot. Therefore, it is best to be direct and concise with your responses! To ensure you do not drag on, brainstorm! This will allow you to plan out responses carefully to fit your personality into your response without it being over the word count. 

If your response ends up being too long, try to get rid of filler or transition words. Give your essay to someone you trust to read it over to help get fresh eyes to eliminate words as well! Doing this will make your Barnard supplemental essay responses stand out from the rest! 

Required: Essay question #1 

“Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we navigate the world and see ourselves. Tell us about when, where, or with whom you feel your most authentic, powerful self. How might Barnard further cultivate this version of you? (250 words max)”

Barnard recognizes that everyone is different and comes from different walks of life. So, this is your opportunity to describe your unique qualities, background and experiences. However, it is important to note that the second part of this prompt “How might Barnard further cultivate this version of you?” is the real question Barnard is asking! Draw connections between where or how you feel your most authentic, powerful self and qualities Barnard demonstrates. For example, if your Latina heritage is an important part of your identity, you should discuss your interest and excitement about joining the Mujeres club for Barnard Latinas . 

The way you should format your response to this prompt is by first telling a story about a background, experience, identity, etc that demonstrates your authentic self! Then, describe 1-2 aspects of Barnard you are looking forward to participating in or being a part of that connects to this identity. If you cannot find an aspect of Barnard that completely matches your identity, then you can even discuss a club or idea you have that you hope to bring to the Barnard community! 

Questions to consider

  • What makes you unique? Can you describe a story that demonstrates important parts of your identity or culture? 
  • Who or what makes you feel like your authentic and true self?
  • What aspects of Barnard are you excited to discover or join? Is this a specific club, a class, a piece of equipment on campus? Describe it in detail to demonstrate your interest! 

Required: Essay question #2

“Barnard College celebrates intellectual risk-taking and we believe that academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What questions do you have about the world around you, and why do they matter to you? (250 words max)”

This prompt is essentially asking you to describe what interests you. Barnard wants to get to know its applicants. 

Choosing just one or two “bold” questions is a difficult task. Therefore, you must brainstorm before answering this essay prompt. Write a list of questions that you have always wondered about. You can approach this prompt by choosing two to three broad issues or one in-depth question. 

Once you have selected what question or questions you want to dive into, make sure to connect these back to Barnard’s resources. How will Barnard be able to help you explore these questions? Is there a particular class or club offered that will allow you to quench your curiosity? Remember, Barnard wants to see applicants who have done their research and are serious about attending their college. 

  • How have you been challenged in the past? 
  • Have you ever changed your mind on a topic? Why or why not? 
  • What is a topic you are passionate about? If you had to give a TED Talk on a specific topic, what would it be about? 

Optional: Essay questions 

Although this essay is optional, no essay is truly optional when it comes to the college admissions process. Be sure to complete each of the Barnard supplemental essays, as you want to take advantage of any presented opportunity to reveal more about your personality.

Optional Essay #1

“Barnard’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion mission statement says “Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has the potential to disrupt and transform entrenched practices and thinking.” In what ways have you challenged ideas, practices, or spaces? What did you learn from these experiences? (250 words max)”

This prompt is interested in getting to know the core beliefs of students and how far they’ve gone to uphold these beliefs. Ultimately, Barnard wants to invite students to campus who act to make change. So, if this prompt sounds up your alley, respond to it! 

Try and think of a time in which you disagreed with some sort of regulation, rule, statement, etc and what you did to disrupt or transform these entrenched practices and thinking. This example can be as big or as small as you would like! Remember, Barnard knows that you are just a high school student, so they are not expecting you to have organized a huge uprising! For example, you can discuss a time you stood up to your principal over an unfair and sexist dress code or how you attended a local politician’s rally to protest their want to shut down a local business. Whatever your experience, a strong response will feature a story about the experience and then most importantly a reflection that shows what you learned from this experience and what you will take with you to Barnard in order to make some changes there. 

  • What are some core beliefs you hold? 
  • Have you ever challenged an idea, practice or space? Why? How did you go about doing so? Would you do anything differently? 
  • Why is disrupting unfair practices important? 

Optional Essay #2

“ As a college for women, “Barnard embraces its responsibility to address gender issues in all their complexity and urgency to help students achieve the personal strength that will enable them to meet the challenges they will encounter throughout their lives.” How have you thought about gender in your academic life thus far and how has it shaped your learning experiences? (250 words max)”

Barnard is an all-women college which is an important part of their identity and values. Therefore, they unfortunately understand and recognize that women are typically a marginalized community in a lot of aspects. Barnard is interested to hear about how being a woman has influenced your learning experiences thus far. So, this could be the perfect opportunity for you to discuss any challenges you have faced. For example, perhaps in your engineering elective class in high school you are the only girl which has unfortunately come with some snide comments in class. Or perhaps you had to work hard to get your voice heard during an English presentation in which 2 boys were paired with you. Be sure to be as specific as possible while writing your response! And remember, no challenge is too small of a challenge to write about! All Barnard wants to hear in this response is that you have worked harder to become the smart and amazing woman you are today. 

  • How has being a woman brought challenges in your academic life? 
  • What have you learned about yourself from these challenges? 
  • Why do you want to attend an all-women college? What differences in your education do you believe there will be, if any? 

Optional Essay #3

“Pick one woman — a historical figure, fictitious character, or modern individual — to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask them? (250 words max)”

Barnard is an all-women college. This means that your answer should reveal how much being surrounded by strong women appeals to you. This essay provides you with a lot of creative freedom. 

To begin, you should pick a woman who means something to you. You can spend a few minutes writing down a list of women who are important to you or have inspired you in some way. Then narrow down this list to one woman you should love to talk with for an hour. Some women you can choose from are Taylor Swift, Hermonie Granger, or your grandma! The limits are endless. 

Remember that this essay is about you and not the woman that you are choosing to write about. Therefore, make sure to tie all of your statements back to yourself. Be sure to reveal pieces of your personality that you have not already in this application. 

Choose someone that you genuinely admire! Do not pick someone that you think the admissions officers want to hear. Rather, be true to yourself and your heroines. 

  • Who is the most inspirational woman in your life? 
  • Who is the strongest woman you have learned about? 
  • Who is your favorite woman in a television show or book? 

Should I answer the optional Barnard College questions? 

Even though some of these questions are optional, responding to as many questions strongly should be a priority if Barnard College is a top-choice for you! Try to think about your application as a whole, if there are some aspects of your background or academic progress you feel need to be reiterated, then taking advantage of the optional essays might be a good idea! 

Additionally, optional essays are a great opportunity to showcase your unique qualities and experiences that will make you a valuable addition to Barnard’s community. So, if you have something exceptional to share that hasn’t been covered by the required supplemental essays, definitely consider using the optional essays for this purpose! 

Overall, keep in mind that it’s better to submit a strong, well-written essay than to submit an optional essay that adds little value to your application. Do not feel compelled to write an optional supplemental essay just for the sake of responding to it! Rather, respond to the optional essays in order to enhance your application and increase your chances of being accepted into Barnard. 

So long story short, respond to as many Barnard optional supplemental essays as possible as long as they are still strengthening your application and providing valuable information not covered elsewhere. 

Next steps after applying to Barnard College

Congratulations! You are now done with the Barnard College supplemental essays! It is time to submit your flawless application! 

The next step after you submit your application would be to continue to show demonstrated interest in Barnard so they know you are committed and prioritizing their school (even if you have a few other top choices.) 

How can I show demonstrated interest in Barnard College? 

  • Apply Early Decision
  • Interview, if offered
  • Attend a campus tour
  • Complete any optional essays
  • Contact an admissions officer

Essentially, by taking advantage of one of the above suggestions, Barnard will see how committed you are to their college. This will give you a leg up above the competition. 

Additional resources

As you are in the middle of the college application process, it can be stressful. There are a lot of tough decisions you will have to make. Luckily, we have an abundance of resources to make the college process a little easier on you. 

  • How many schools should you apply to?
  • How to find safety, reach, and match schools
  • Should you send your test scores to test-optional schools ? 

Finally, make you that you apply to all the scholarships you qualify for!

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Other colleges to consider

  • New York University (New York, NY)
  • Columbia University (New York, NY)
  • Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
  • Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY)

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Barnard College 2019-20 Supplemental Essay Guide

Regular Decision: 

Barnard College 2019-20 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Seven Sisters aren’t just women’s colleges, they’re also historic institutions that have helped carve out space for women in higher education. Barnard admissions will be looking for a commitment not just to women’s education but to the type of community they aim to create as they build each incoming class. In other words, a perfunctory application won’t cut it! The smaller the school, the higher the scrutiny. So give yourself time to brainstorm, draft, and refine before you hit submit!

The Requirements: 2  short answers of 100-250 words; 2 essays of 250 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why , Oddball ,   Short Answer

What factors influenced your decision to apply to Barnard College and why do you think the College would be a good match for you? (100-250 words)

In a way, this prompt is redundant. We would hope that the factors influencing your decision to apply are directly related to the reasons you think you’d be a good match! “I’ve grown up hearing about the benefits of attending a women’s college and now I’m ready to see for myself,” makes for a much more cohesive and convincing story than, “My mom went to Barnard so that’s why I decided to apply, and also I love New York.” So, how do you craft a winning answer that weaves together the practical and aspirational aspects of your decision to apply? Research, research, research! If you’ve been planning to apply to Barnard for a while, it will help you solidify your reasons with concrete details. On the other hand, if you’re relatively new to the idea of applying to Barnard, spending a few hours on the school website will help you paint a picture of what your experience could be like. Allow yourself to get genuinely excited and that enthusiasm will shine through in your writing. (Sounds silly, but mindset matters!)

Since this is a relatively short prompt, try to focus on one clear, cohesive reason and support it with a few choice details from your life and research. Think: “Coming from a small town, I want to push myself to experience college in a global setting, while still maintaining the kind of close-knit community I’m used to.” With such a specific topic sentence, this student could fill her essay with personal details from her life at home while drawing a connection to the type of experience she hopes to have.

Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about? (100-250 words)

You’ve probably been asked a version of this question before: Who would you invite to an imaginary tea party or dinner party? If you could summon anyone from the grave, who would it be? In this case, unsurprisingly, Barnard wants you to write about a woman. But hold up, isn’t this your application? (Not Madeleine Albright’s or Rosa Parks’ or Nefertiti’s.) Why would a school ask you to write about someone that isn’t you? And what do they expect to learn? A question like this one is probing for an inkling of your interests and motivations. Who do you admire? What are your aspirations? What kinds of things do you know ? When you come upon a prompt that directly or indirectly asks you to demonstrate your academic or cultural knowledge, the key is to be confident and genuine. Don’t second guess your own interests or strain to write about a topic simply because you think it will impress admissions. It will be easier to write about someone you are genuinely interested in — and the results will be more personal and memorable!

For this type of prompt, brainstorming is key. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and jot down every person that comes to mind: Charlotte Bronte , Tarana Burke , your great-great grandma, your biological mom, Katherine Johnson , Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger… no idea is too absurd during the brainstorm. Once you have a solid list, you’ll be in a better position to home in the right person. Who do you know the most about? Which person would allow you to reveal something new to admissions? An interest in politics, or fashion, or ancient history? Some undiscussed aspect of your personal history? You could even try to put a twist on a person that might feel like a common choice. Many women interested in computer science might like to bend Ada Lovelace’s ear, but how many of them would ask her about the representation of women in the media?

Who in your life is depending on you? What are they depending on you for? (250 words)

*This prompt was removed partway into the admissions cycle*

You may not have thought of yourself as a source of support before, but dependence takes many forms and it’s happening in your daily life. Your story can be as obvious as the kids you babysit or the dogs you foster with your family. But it can also be less cut and dry. Remember: Your friends depend on you for compassion and inspiration. Your siblings depend on you to set an example or to cheer them on in their endeavors. One way to think about this is to ask yourself, “who would be disappointed if I didn’t show up?” Walk yourself through your day, week, or the past year and take note of who counts on you. You might surprise yourself with how integral you are in the lives of those around you. In telling this story, show admissions that you take your responsibilities seriously and appreciate the part you play in the lives of those around you.

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

Take a look at your activity resume and visualize a day in the life in each job or activity. Admissions officers know that working at an ice cream shop demands punctuality, but do they know how buff your forearm gets after scooping 500 Rocky Roads? Admissions knows that being a camp counselor can be exhausting, but do they know that you get a burst of energy when a shy kid smiles and tries something new? Share with Barnard the experiences that may go unnoticed and use this as an opportunity to show admissions a new side of you that you haven’t listed on the application.

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Home — Application Essay — University — Barnard College

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Barnard College Admission Essays

My interest in studying medical science.

‘Medical science has proven time and again that when the resources are provided, great progress in the treatment, cure, and prevention of disease can occur.’ ~ by Michael J. Fox Recent ‘World Health Organization’ statistics shows a 9.6 million cancer deaths in 2018 and it…

Why I Am A Student Striving To Be A Physician

I cannot pinpoint one moment that leads me to believe being a physician will bring me the most satisfaction and joy, but it is instead a series of events till today. As a child, I eagerly followed my father to the hospital for ‘Take Your…

My Desire To Become A Medical Student

Through my exposure to the medical field and other experiences in the community, I have developed a strong desire to undertake a career that involves giving back to the community with medical knowledge. My determination to be in this field began at 10 years old,…

Born A Warrior: Medical College Admission Essay Sample

My mom says I was born a warrior. And yes, I am. On 6th Nov, a Six & half month premature baby was born in the family of doctors. Since that day my fate has been trying to meet its destination as a researcher in…

Why I Want To Pursue A Career In The Medical Field

My decision to study medicine stems from neither a life-changing event nor is it a childhood ambition. It is, rather a product of in-depth research and first-hand experience. Shadowing a pediatric intensivist allowed me to witness and observe several high-pressure situations, from the administration of…

Exploring Cultures and Societies

Barnard College, an all-women’s liberal arts college in New York City, has always been my dream school. From its academic reputation to its location in the heart of the city, Barnard College has everything I am looking for in a college experience. In this essay,…

Fighting Sexism with Lightsabers: College Admission Essay Sample

“This Jedi is female, so she’s not as smart.” The young man, Max, chortled this to his scene partner as our improvised Star Wars play came racing towards its climax. I stood backstage, suddenly feeling jarred. My character throughout the play had been a hero,…

A Feminist Journey Through Photography

Behind the camera’s shutter, I am never calm or collected. I am, more often than not, trying to figure out my next photography shot, my eyes darting from my subject to the light source to a detail of the scene. However, I am perfectly content….

Being the Next Generation Role Model: College Admission Essay Sample

Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, awed me when I first met her at Fashion Institute of Technology. Originally a politician who became the first Indian American woman to run for Congress, Mrs. Saujani had no technological skills to create an organization about…

Between Space and Ground: Travelling by Plane

There’s something oddly comforting about sitting in an airplane and barreling through the sky at 37,000 feet. Granted, the food could be better and the seats a little bigger, but I’ve never been able to find a place quite like this one. When I’m up…

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Barnard College: 2017-2018 Supplemental Essay Prompts & Examples

  • college application essays
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  • women's college

Want to attend a small liberal arts college for women in a big city? You find the best of both worlds in Barnard College.

barnard college essay examples

Barnard College, located in New York City, is a private women’s liberal arts college, affiliated with Columbia University. For students who can’t decide between a liberal arts college and a large coeducation university, Barnard College might just be the perfect school. Students are allowed cross-enroll in classes and in student clubs, expanding the diversity and network of students you’ll meet during your 4 years on campus.  If you’re interested in applying to Barnard, the college applications includes 3 additional writing supplements.

Here are Barnard’s 2017-2018 Supplemental Essay Prompts

A. what factors influenced your decision to apply to barnard college and why do you think the college would be a good match for you (100-250 words).

General Essay Tips:

Why do you want to be a Barnard Woman? Just like any other “Why Us” school-specific essay, the prompt is asking you to explain why you’re applying to Barnard and why do you think you’re a good fit for the school. To reiterate, it’s important you’ve done your research into the academic programs Barnard offers, what’s unique about the campus, and what the student body is like. What are some characteristics or interests of yours align with what they offer?

Here are some Why Barnard supplemental essay examples:

1. Why Barnard Supplement Example: STEM Majors

barnard college essay examples

Essay Excerpt from Ramisa125, Barnard College ‘21

“But at Barnard, I see myself surrounded by hundreds of other brilliant young women, all working towards a common goal: to better the world while doing what we love. We’re not hindered by our gender; we’re empowered by it. Barnard is perfect for STEM not only because of research opportunities like the Beckman Scholars Program, but also because of the community of motivated women creating possibilities out of the impossible.”

Essay Analysis:

Ramisa125 incorporates what Barnard offers as a women’s college and the STEM opportunities the college offers. Earlier in her essay, she explains a past image she grew up with, something she hopes to be free of by being in a supportive environment, where she is surrounded by like minded women. By doing so, she was able to share a personal anecdote about herself, highlighting her interests and quirks, and demonstrate how she fits into Barnard’s student body.

Unlock her full Barnard College profile to read her full application essays and advice!

2. Why Barnard Supplement Example: Barnard Student Body

barnard college essay examples

Essay Excerpt from MeganChang97, Barnard College ‘19

“While standing in front of the Diana Center, I was surprised to see how friendly and diverse the students were. When I returned to California, I continued to keep in touch with several students who would all gush about Barnard. By talking to the students, I began to love the idea of going to a women’s college and what it means to become a Barnard Woman.”

MeganChang97 focuses on student body as a primary reason for wanting to attend Barnard College. In her supplemental essay, she talks about her conversations with her aunt, a Barnard alumna, and other Barnard women, and how she identified with them. In this particular excerpt, while she doesn’t explicitly mention her conversation details with current students at Barnard, she demonstrates her interest in the college and her compatibility with current Barnard students.

barnard college essay examples

B. Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about? (100-250 words)

Take some time and brainstorm. Write down some female figures you look up to as they come to mind. They can be family members, writers, scientists, entrepreneurs, or even fictional characters! Next to the names you’ve written down, jot down 3 characteristics you like about each of them. Look at your options: Is there any that you can link back to your own personality? Or perhaps about a subject you’d like to pursue?

While you’re writing a supplement about a woman you look up to or are interested in, you are also sharing something about yourself. Who you choose to talk about will indicate your interest, but it’s up to you to demonstrate your thought process and motivation behind it. They want to know how you uncover stories, how you engage with someone, and what you’re interested in (academically or not!).

Here are some supplemental essay examples:

1. Barnard Supplement Example: My Grandmother

barnard college essay examples

Essay Excerpt from Ccg32, Barnard College ‘19

“In China 50 years ago, women were expected to conform to their gender roles and if they strayed from their given paths, they could easily be seen as “unwanted” when trying to find a husband. Despite the fact that she would have been looked down upon, my grandmother decided to unbind her feet at a young age and attend college.”

Choosing a family member can be a good choice for this essay topic if family background is an important of who you are, and you haven’t been able to touch on that in your application so far. In this essay excerpt, Ccg32 touched on her family heritage and goes on to explain how that has impacted her. More importantly, she does on to express how she wishes to get to know her grandmother better for further guidance and inspiration for her own future.

2. Barnard Supplement Example: A Neurosurgeon

barnard college essay examples

Cjjo96, Barnard College ‘18

“The author, Dr. Katrina Firlik, has been my inspiration ever since. One of the few women in the neurology field, her wit, intellect and drive are distinct, impressive, and the reason she has been so successful. Much like me, she is passionate and strong in her opinions. She doesn’t comply with gender constructs and she has built a life in which she is insistent upon balancing her family and career.”

In Cjjo96’s supplemental essay excerpt, she does an excellent job of talking about the woman she is interested in, relating that back to her own interests and character. She was not only able to share her interest in neurology, but was also able to highlight her own characteristics.

C. Barnard women seek to make a difference in their community, whether through the residence hall, classes, clubs, volunteer work or a part-time job they hold. Describe how you make a difference in your community and what you have learned from that experience. In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the community at Barnard, inside or outside of the classroom? (100-250 words)

This is a new prompt! Last year’s prompt asked students to recount a time “when you majored in unafraid.” They have switched it up this year to focus more on community—what you’ve done so far, and what you plan on doing.

This is a great opportunity to touch on any volunteer work you’ve done, or any extracurriculars you participated in. Why were you dedicated to those efforts? The admissions office wants to know what motivated you to be a part of give back to your community, and if that dedication extends past your time in high school.

It also give you a chance to dive further into how well you know Barnard, and how well you fit in to Barnard’s student body. Admissions officers are not just looking to understand your values and beliefs, but also how your creative thinking and growth. How can you take the contribution you’ve done so far in your community and do more given Barnard’s resources and network? It’s your chance to show your potential.

Hope this was helpful for those of you finishing your Barnard applications! Interested in reading these students’ full personal statements in addition to their full responses to the Barnard supplemental prompts? Unlock all of them in one go with our  Barnard Essentials Package ! 

barnard college essay examples

Our  premium plans  offer different levels of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school. Unlock any of our  packages  or search our  undergraduate profile database  to find specific profiles that can help you make an informed choice about where to apply! We have 60,000+ successful college application files uploaded by college students. See how they got in, and how you can too!

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

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barnard college essay examples

IMAGES

  1. 24 Greatest College Essay Examples

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  2. Admission essay: Being a college student essay

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  3. Barnard Essay Examples

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  4. College Essay Format: Simple Steps to Be Followed

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  5. 33+ College Essay Examples For Admission Image

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  6. 003 Why This College Essay Sample Example ~ Thatsnotus

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COMMENTS

  1. 3 Standout Barnard Essay Examples

    Essay Example #1 Prompt: At Barnard, academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited and why do they interest you? Tell us how you would explore these questions at Barnard. (300 words) There are some questions that can't be answered through classes.

  2. How to Write the Barnard College Essays 2023-2024

    Womanhood. Big topic, isn't it? And it's a good one, because everyone relates to it a different way. Because Barnard is a women's college, you should sit down with some blank paper and list your experiences in relation to this category. Make a flow chart; list the things that come to mind.

  3. Barnard Writing Supplement Questions

    What did you learn from these experiences? (250 words max) Optional: Pick one woman — a historical figure, a fictitious character, or a modern individual — who you'd like to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask her? (250 words max)

  4. How to Write the Barnard College Supplemental Essays: Guide + Examples

    Barnard Supplemental Essay Prompt #1 Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we navigate the world and see ourselves. Tell us about when, where, or with whom you feel your most authentic, powerful self. How might Barnard further cultivate this version of you? (250 words) Barnard Supplemental Essay Prompt #2

  5. Barnard Essays That Worked

    CollegeVine has an article with three example essays submitted by real students, along with feedback on what worked well and what could be improved upon: https://blog.collegevine.com/barnard-essay-example Also check out this CollegeVine article with tips on writing each of the Barnard essays: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-barnar...

  6. How to Write the Barnard Authentic Self Essay

    Barnard Authentic Self Essay Example Draft 1 Growing up in a resource-strapped neighborhood, I witnessed the stark disparity in access to green spaces. Empty lots and trash-filled parks were the norm. However, a local community garden, thriving amidst the chaos, became my refuge. Planting seeds and tending to the plants, I felt empowered.

  7. Barnard Essay Examples

    If you are looking for Barnard Essay examples you've come to the right place. But, before we dive into how to write Barnard supplemental essays and explore six real Barnard essay examples, let's talk a bit about the school itself. First, Barnard College is a women's liberal arts college in the heart of New York City.

  8. Barnard Supplemental Essays

    Bailey Bennett Barnard College " Barnard College ," fakoman | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Barnard Supplemental Essays 2023-24 One of the key steps to getting into Barnard is writing your Barnard College supplemental essays. Like many top schools, Barnard uses supplemental essays to learn more about their applicants during the admissions process.

  9. 2023-24 Barnard College Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    No Time To Lose! The Barnard College Deadline Countdown is on: Early Decision: EXPIRED We can help you draft in time for submission! Barnard College 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations The Requirements: 3 essays of 300 words Supplemental Essay Type (s): Why, Oddball, Diversity

  10. Barnard College's 2023-24 Essay Prompts

    250 Words Barnard celebrates intellectual risk-taking, and we believe that academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What questions do you have about the world around you, and why do they matter to you? Read our essay guide to get started. Submit your essay for free peer review to refine and perfect it. Submit or review an essay

  11. How to Write the Barnard College Essays 2019-2020

    NO LONGER REQUIRED.** Think of the activity in which you've shown the most commitment, or the one that has shaped you the most. Is there an activity that has equipped you with new skills, strengthened your personality traits, or changed your perspective? Activities like these tend to be the best subjects for your essay.

  12. Barnard College Undergraduate College Application Essays

    These Barnard College college application essays were written by students accepted at Barnard College. All of our sample college essays include the question prompt and the year written. Please use these sample admission essays responsibly. Join Now to View Premium Content

  13. How to Write the Barnard Supplement Essays 2020-2021

    How to Write the Barnard Supplement Essays 2020-2021. Barnard is an all women's college in New York City. There is a huge sense of community and there has been a 60% increase in applications over the past five years. Barnard students can take classes at nearby Columbia University, but steer clear of writing about Columbia in your supplement.

  14. Barnard Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    By AdmissionSight Barnard Supplemental Essays 2023-2024 Are you gearing up for your college application journey and eyeing Barnard College as your destination? Well, you're in the right place! Barnard, part of the vibrant Columbia University community in New York City, is known for its commitment to empowering women in education.

  15. What I Wrote About in My College Essay

    Barnard. What I Wrote About in My College Essay With Barnard really emphasizing its holistic approach, the personal statement portion of your application is probably one of the most important aspects. I remember in high school, I was panicked by the idea of writing my entire life story in 650 words.

  16. How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Barnard Supplemental Essay Prompts

    Updated: October 9th, 2023 Barnard College is a private women's liberal arts college that is found within Columbia University. It is located in the heart of the city that never sleeps, New York City. Barnard is extremely selective as its acceptance rate lies So, how do we help make you a part of that 11%?

  17. How to Write the Barnard Supplement 2022-2023

    Barnard is a small all-womens (if you hadn't gathered from the very historical account above) college of about 3,000 undergraduate students. It's very competitive to get into, particularly recently. Last year, Barnard's acceptance rate fell below 10% for the first time ever. They have a couple of supplemental essay questions, two of which ...

  18. Barnard Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

    When it comes to answering the Barnard supplemental essays 2022, there are some things to keep in mind. First, these essays are in addition to the personal statement found in the common app. Second, all of the Barnard supplemental essays 2022-2023 are required. The Barnard supplemental word limit for each essay is 300 words, so you will have ...

  19. 2020-21 Barnard College Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    "I've grown up hearing about the benefits of attending a women's college and now I'm ready to see for myself," makes for a much more cohesive and convincing story than, "My mom went to Barnard so that's why I decided to apply, and also I love New York."

  20. 2019-20 Barnard College Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    Regular Decision: Barnard College 2019-20 Application Essay Question Explanations The Seven Sisters aren't just women's colleges, they're also historic institutions that have helped carve out space for women in higher education.

  21. Barnard College Admission Essays

    From its academic reputation to its location in the heart of the city, Barnard College has everything I am looking for in a college experience. In this essay,… Liberal Arts Schools Fighting Sexism with Lightsabers: College Admission Essay Sample 601 Words | 2 Pages "This Jedi is female, so she's not as smart."

  22. Barnard College: 2017-2018 Supplemental Essay Prompts & Examples

    2. Why Barnard Supplement Example: Barnard Student Body Essay Excerpt from MeganChang97, Barnard College '19 "While standing in front of the Diana Center, I was surprised to see how friendly and diverse the students were. When I returned to California, I continued to keep in touch with several students who would all gush about Barnard.

  23. 27 Outstanding College Essay Examples From Top Universities 2023

    This college essay tip is by Abigail McFee, Admissions Counselor for Tufts University and Tufts '17 graduate. 2. Write like a journalist. "Don't bury the lede!" The first few sentences must capture the reader's attention, provide a gist of the story, and give a sense of where the essay is heading.