October 25, 2018

Princeton University Engineering Essay

Princeton University

If you are interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree, please write a 300-500 word essay describing why you are interested in studying engineering, any experiences in or exposure to engineering you have had and how you think the programs in engineering offered at Princeton suit your particular interests.

*This essay is required for students who indicate Bachelor of Science in Engineering as a possible degree of study on their application.


You may wanna address the elephant in the room, which is… “are you pursuing engineering because your parents made you”? hahah. It’s either gonna be EXACTLY your situation (you wanna be an artist but your parents say “Nuh Unh”), or the exact opposite (your parents want you to be an artist, and YOU say, nope, me like engineering), or it’s somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter which one it is. What matters is emerging with the reader saying “this kid is GENUINE about it.” More often than not, the argument you THINK makes for the most compelling sell on why you’re interested in something (in this case engineering), is the least convincing. Usually, because it makes… too much sense. Sounds too perfect. Is too predictable. The best arguments are the ones that are surprising, unpredictable, off-balance somehow.

“Hey so, both my parents are engineers and have kinda insisted that I also be an engineer and have threatened to disown me if I don’t become an engineer, so that’s part of it. I decided to do it, but I decided that I would HATE it. Because I was a kid and that’s what kids do in response to anything their parents say. So that’s what I did. I took classes with a “Harumph” arms-folded attitude, cuz it’s all I had. The thing is? No matter how hard I tried, I frickin loved it. DAMNIT! Must. Not. Let. Parents. Win…” yada yada. It’s possible to take what COULD have been a predictable version (parents said I had to) and turn INTO something a little surprising.

You just need to find the element that’s true to YOUR experience and bring it front and center. That’s your ticket into to SELLING your interest in engineering, your plans for it, your love of the study OF it, etc.

All that selling of YOUR draw toward engineering, your plans, etc., should take up maybe 70% of the thing. The final piece is convincing us that of all the engineering programs out there, somehow the one at PRINCETON snaps into place with you and your interests and skillset… differently and better than others. In order to make that argument, you need to map specific elements of the Princeton engineering program to specific aspects of what YOU NEED in order to excel… the most. This isn’t easy. And it’s all about specificity and making those connections. Not simply in IDENTIFYING aspects of the programs which seem promising or noteworthy. Gotta connect to something specific about you.


You can also read through our team’s analysis of the rest of Princeton’s application essays.

Learn more and explore each step of Princeton’s undergraduate application process here.

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