Harvard expands essay requirement for admission

Harvard’s 2023 College Application now contains five required short-answer supplemental questions, instead of the previous single optional essay.

When the Common Application portal opened on Aug. 1, high school students found a significant change in the Harvard College application: the Harvard supplement optional essay has been replaced with five required 200-word limit short answer questions.

“As part of the undergraduate admissions process, an optional essay is being replaced by five required short essays to provide every student the opportunity to reflect on and share how their life experiences and academic and extracurricular activities shaped them, how they will engage with others at Harvard, and their aspirations for the future,” Harvard College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo wrote in an email.

The questions ask about applicants’ life experience, intellectual interests, extracurricular activities, how they hope to use their Harvard education in the future, and the top three things that they want their roommate to know about them. The new short essays draw directly from prompts in the old Harvard College application.

Harvard College’s New Required Short Prompts