University of Rochester Essay Guide: 2021-2022

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Not sure how to respond to a University of Rochester supplemental essay prompt? CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the University of Rochester essay questions will show you how to write captivating University of Rochester essay responses and increase your chances against the University of Rochester acceptance rate.

If you need help writing your University of Rochester supplement essays, create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • The University of Rochester's acceptance rate is 35% - U.S. News ranks the University of Rochester as a most selective school.
  • The University of Rochester is ranked 34th by US News in their current ranking of national universities.
  • We recommend that you complete each University of Rochester supplemental essay thoroughly and thoughtfully to maximize your admissions odds.

What is the University of Rochester acceptance rate?

The current University of Rochester acceptance rate is 35%. According to US News, the average acceptance rate for universities is 68%; this makes the University of Rochester acceptance rate significantly lower than that of many universities.

However, don't let the University of Rochester acceptance rate scare you. After all, many factors influence whether you're accepted to a given school. There are plenty of things you can do to boost your admissions odds. Specifically, crafting strong responses to each University of Rochester supplemental essay. Well-crafted essays, strong recommendation letters, and impressive transcripts can help you overcome the University of Rochester acceptance rate.

Once again, the University of Rochester's acceptance rate is 35%. Given the low University of Rochester acceptance rate and its test-optional ad policy, well-written University of Rochester supplement essays can considerably increase your admissions odds.tending their particular school over another. In other words, whenever applicable in a University of Rochester supplemental essay, you want to show that you’ve done your research on the school. Your essays should show the admissions team your specific goals in attending Rochester (beyond reputation and prestige). To learn more about DI and how universities use it, check out this Forbes article.

Want to learn how to use the University of Rochester acceptance rate to build a balanced college list? Check out our recent blog article.

Is the University of Rochester hard to get into?

US News currently lists the University of Rochester ranking as 34th in the nation. U.S. News takes both the high University of Rochester ranking and the low University of Rochester acceptance rate into consideration when they designate Rochester as a most selective school.

Once again, the University of Rochester's acceptance rate is 35%. Given the low University of Rochester acceptance rate and its test-optional admissions policy, well-written University of Rochester supplement essays can considerably increase your admissions odds.

Since the University of Rochester ranking is quite high, you should do all you can to help your application shine. However, don't let the University of Rochester ranking (or acceptance rate) discourage you from submitting the strongest application you can.

Does the University of Rochester require essays?

Yes. All applicants must complete two University of Rochester essay questions in addition to the required essay for the Common App or Coalition App. Below, we’ll discuss how to best respond to each University of Rochester essay question in this Rochester essay guide.

Need some help writing your Common App essay? Get great tips from our Common App essay guide.

How many essays does the University of Rochester Require?

There are two University of Rochester supplemental essay prompts on the 2020-2021 Common App. All applicants must complete both University of Rochester supplemental essays.

Does the University of Rochester care about essays?

Simply, yes. Like many other universities, the University of Rochester has moved to a test-optional admissions policy. Last year, over 18,000 students applied to the University of Rochester. Of that number, only about 6,500 students were admitted—which is how they calculate the University of Rochester acceptance rate.

With a test-optional policy and a rising number of applicants, the other aspects of your application become even more important. This includes the University of Rochester supplemental essays. If you don’t send standardized scores in your application, the University of Rochester emphasizes that your essays will be even more critical.

To recap, given the low University of Rochester acceptance rate, strong University of Rochester supplement essays could make the difference when it comes to your admissions result. If you want your best shot against the University of Rochester acceptance rate, don't discount your Rochester essays!

How do I write the University of Rochester essays?

Approach each Rochester essay with a thorough understanding of the prompt. Then, take your time to draft a complete response. Spend the remainder of your time polishing each University of Rochester supplement essay. You’ll want to make sure that your openings grab your reader’s attention. Additionally, you should draft each University of Rochester essay with the word limit in mind—keep your language concise! Finally, whenever possible, your Rochester essays should use DI to reinforce your interest in attending the school.

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay – Question 1 (Required)

The University of Rochester motto of Meliora – or “ever better” - deeply integrates critical core values into all that we do. These core values of equity, leadership, integrity, openness, respect and accountability define not only who we are, but also who we hope to become. Please use the space below to highlight a time, creative idea or research experience when you put into action one or more of these characteristics in order to make yourself, your community or the world ever better. (200-word limit).
You may answer one of three ways:
Essay Response: Write an analytical or creative response of 200 words or less.
Creative Response: Upload up to three works of your own art (e.g. pictures, video, performances, literary) and use the space below to provide a brief explanation as to how the art is tied to making the world, your community and those around you “ever better.”
Research Response: Upload an abstract describing your own related research and use the space below to provide a brief explanation as to how the research is tied to making the world, your community and those around you “ever better.”

University of Rochester ranking and reputation aside, focus on how this University of Rochester supplemental essay can help you stand out!

This University of Rochester supplement essay prompt asks you to show how you emulate Rochester's motto of "ever better" by embodying Rochester's core values. The prompt invites you to connect your experiences, art, or research with at least one of Rochester's listed values (equity, leadership, integrity, openness, respect, and accountability) as well as with the motto of "ever better."

Let’s break down this University of Rochester supplement essay and discuss how to choose the best type of response.

Brainstorming Core Values

The University of Rochester wants students who model their core values and strive to make the world around them a better place. In your Rochester essay, you want to demonstrate that you embody Rochester's key values. First, think about the values Rochester lists and how they contribute to making the world a better place. Then, brainstorm times when you lived out one or more of these values.

Making a List

To begin, go through each value listed and free write about a time or experience when you put that value into action. If you find yourself really taking off on one or two of the values, use that as a starting point for this University of Rochester supplemental essay.

Additionally, the values that matter most to you might not necessarily fit the requirements for your Rochester essay. For instance, if you list “equity” in your brainstorm but struggle to remember a time you lived this value, then you shouldn’t choose that value for this University of Rochester supplement essay. Do you value equity? Of course. But let’s choose a value that meets the University of Rochester supplement essay requirements.

On the other hand, if you list “leadership” and can share an experience when you used leadership to “make yourself, your community, or the world ever better,” you've found a topic for this University of Rochester supplemental essay.

Choose one or two of your strongest values that you have put into action to make the world "ever better." Whichever values you choose, make sure you can back up your experiences with specific details.

Making a Choice

Once you have chosen a topic for your University of Rochester supplemental essay response, it's time to choose a form. Rochester lets you get creative with this prompt—your University of Rochester supplement essay might not even be an essay at all!

Let’s look at each option and consider which one is best for you:

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay Option 1: The Essay Response

While writing an essay (rather than submitting a creative response or a research project) might seem unexciting, there are plenty of ways you can make your essay response shine. So, if you don't have artistic projects or research to use for your first Rochester essay, don't worry! The essay response is the route for you; let's make the most of it.

For this University of Rochester essay, you need to identify a core value from your brainstorming list and describe how you used that value to better yourself or others. With only 200 words, you don't have much space. You'll want to include specific details—while your word count might be limited, your Rochester essay should still tell a story. You might open your essay with an anecdote before discussing how this value impacts your relationship to the world.

While you can address multiple values in your essay, you should do so with caution. Don't try to tell multiple stories; instead, remain focused on one general idea. It's better to address one topic in detail than to attempt to write about multiple experiences.

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay Option 2: The Creative Response

Art can be a powerful way to communicate your values. Do you have any creative work (pictures, video, performances, literature, etc.) that demonstrates one of your core values? If so, you might consider this option for your University of Rochester essay.

If you go this route, you can upload up to three artistic works. You must also provide a 200-word written explanation that details how these works align with making the word "ever better" for the University of Rochester supplemental essay.

Any files that you upload must meet the file type and size requirements provided. Name each file logically:

Ex. “Video 1” “Video 2” or “Photo 1” “Photo 2”

If you use specific file names, you can easily refer to them in your written explanation. Your explanation should clearly identify the work, the value it demonstrates, and how that work is “tied to making the world ever better.” As with all University of Rochester supplemental essays, you should be as specific and detailed as possible.

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay Option 3: The Research Response

The University of Rochester prides itself as one of the leading research universities in the US. This is one of the reasons the University of Rochester ranking is #34 in National Universities. Consequently, if you have published research, you might choose this option for your University of Rochester supplement essay. Relatively few students will have done extensive research projects, so this Rochester essay response can help your application stand out!

Upload your research abstract—follow the file upload requirements provided in the directions. Next, provide a 200-word discussion that explains how this research expresses a core value and is making the world “ever better.”

In your 200-word University of Rochester supplemental essay, you should use as many details as possible to directly describe how this research improves the world. Why did this research matter to you? How might it relate to projects you hope to continue while studying at Rochester?

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay Key Questions:

  • Does your University of Rochester supplemental essay response identify a matching core value?
  • Does your University of Rochester essay tie your core value(s) to your actions?
  • Did you choose the best method of response to illustrate your value(s)?
  • Does your response show how you will make yourself, your community, and the world "ever better" while studying at Rochester?

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay – Option 2 (Required)

Please select one of the following prompts to respond to in 200 words or less.
1. American social reformer, abolitionist, writer and statesman, Frederick Douglass said, “Some know the value of education, by having it. I knew its value by not having it.” Explain ways in which education has directly influenced you and your ability to do good in the world. How will you use the curricular flexibility and co-curricular opportunities of the University of Rochester experience to grow and to promote positive change for yourself, your community and your world.
2. Dr. Donna Strickland, University of Rochester alum and 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Physics said, “There’s no point in me being anything other than me.” The University of Rochester encourages each student to embrace who they are and create their own individual curricular path and experience. How will you use the opportunities here to fully be who you are? What unique experiences will you bring to our community?
3. The University of Rochester benefactor entrepreneur, photography pioneer and philanthropist, George Eastman said, “What we do during our working hours determines what we have, what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are.” Looking forward toward your college experience, what do you hope to do outside of the classroom at the University of Rochester? What will enhance who you are as a person? How will specific academic and social opportunities here help you grow?

The University of Rochester wants students to build their own program of study and engage in campus life. This University of Rochester supplemental essay gives you an opportunity to connect with their ideals.

Let’s check out each of your options here and strategize for your best choice.

Evaluating The Prompts

Both the first and second options mention “curricular flexibility” and “individual curricular path.” So, take some time to understand this unique Rochester Curriculum before selecting a University of Rochester essay prompt.

In some ways, each of these prompts is akin to a "Why Rochester" essay. This means that in your University of Rochester supplement essay, you should try to mention specific programs and opportunities only available at Rochester. This is your chance to show the Rochester admissions team that you're invested in their school—don't let it go to waste.

Each of these University of Rochester supplemental essay prompts takes a slightly different angle. Let's break down what each of these questions asks:

Prompt 1: Education and its Influence

This University of Rochester essay prompt directly asks how education has influenced you to do good in the world. You can choose this prompt if you've had a unique experience with education that has contributed to your identity and goals.

Remember, your University of Rochester supplemental essays should help the admissions team learn more about you. Do you have a personal experience connected to education that informs your desire to study at Rochester? If so, this might be a great prompt to choose for your University of Rochester supplemental essay.

For example, you might discuss how a volunteering experience you had influenced your desire to promote education for underserved groups. Or, you might describe how your own struggles in the education system have inspired you to help make learning more equitable.

Identify your previous learning experience and connect it to your academic planning with the Rochester curriculum. By connecting your experiences to your goals at Rochester, you can use this University of Rochester supplement essay to show both your understanding of curricular programming at Rochester and your desire to affect change in your community.

Prompt 2: Being Who You Are

This University of Rochester supplemental essay requires you to identify a distinct personal feature and demonstrate how you will express that trait at the University of Rochester.

At Rochester, community extends far beyond the classroom walls. Ninety percent of University of Rochester students participate in student clubs and organizations. Take this opportunity to investigate the student organizations on campus. Consider what qualities you will bring to Rochester and how you will contribute to the student body.

You might choose a particular club that accords with your identity or interests and describe how you would interface with that aspect of campus culture. For instance, if you're a first-generation college student, you might talk about your desire to join Rochester's 1st Gen Society and help connect the first-generation community. Whatever you choose, make sure to include as many specific details as possible.

Prompt 3: Life Outside the Classroom

In some ways, this University of Rochester essay prompt combines Prompt 1 and Prompt 2. This University of Rochester essay prompt asks you to identify your goals and describe how the University of Rochester will help you grow into the person you want to be.

Once again, you'll want to be as specific as possible. Focus your University of Rochester supplement essay not just on what opportunities Rochester offers but on how these opportunities will help you grow. The admissions team should come away from your Rochester essay with a solid sense not just of what you will bring to Rochester, but, moreover, of what Rochester (and only Rochester) can do for you.

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay Key Questions:

  • Do you use your University of Rochester supplemental essay to highlight your understanding of Rochester’s opportunities?
  • Does your University of Rochester supplement essay demonstrate your long-term goals and how Rochester will help you reach them?
  • Does your Rochester essay response illustrate how you’ll contribute to campus life?

University of Rochester Supplemental Essay Questions – Final Thoughts

The University of Rochester essay prompts may seem overwhelming, especially in light of the high University of Rochester ranking and the low University of Rochester acceptance rate. However, don't let that discourage you! With these tips, you can write an engaging set of University of Rochester supplemental essays and maximize your chances against the University of Rochester acceptance rate. Good luck!


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This 2021-2022 essay guide was written by Sasha Litzenberger. Want help crafting your University of Rochester supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

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