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Very Few Black Colleges and Universities Require an Application Essay:

Admissions offices at the nation's most selective colleges and universities receive thousands of applications each spring. A large number of these applicants are "A" students who also score very high on their standardized college entrance tests. Often there is very little to distinguish one applicant from another. Therefore, the application essay is becoming an important component in the admissions decision at many of the nation's highest-ranked colleges and universities.

At a large number of these highly ranked institutions, essay questions that simply ask the applicant to relate a significant event in his or her life are a thing of the past. Colleges are asking prospective students questions that allow for a great deal of creativity and expression. For example, the University of Pennsylvania asks applicants to submit page 217 of their 300-page autobiography.

JBHE has surveyed a large number of historically black colleges and universities to determine if they require students to write application essays. Most do not. Our research found that only 14 of the 90 HBCUs in our survey require applicants to write an essay.

Of the few black colleges that require essays, most simply ask why the applicant wants to attend the particular college or to describe a significant event in the applicant's life. Perhaps the most interesting essay question this year among the black colleges was found on the application for Hampton University. This predominantly black college in Virginia asked applicants to write on the topic, "How do today's youth combat negative moral influences?"

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