Essay Scoop: How to Answer Harvey Mudd Essays

Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

Are you gearing up to answer the Harvey Mudd essays? Harvey Mudd College is an unsuspecting heavy-hitter. As part of the Claremont Colleges network, the school is naturally well-funded to dedicate plenty of resources to each student. Despite this materially supportive environment, however, something else sets Harvey Mudd apart in the eyes of high-achieving students: the competitive atmosphere.

Are you intrigued and excited by a challenge? Do you thrive on healthy competition and a high pressure atmosphere? Then you might be the perfect fit for the intellectual forge of Harvey Mudd.

Not interested in that kind of intensity? Remember; there is more than one path to success, so you don’t need to force yourself to jump into the deep end!


Let’s review the stats. Located in Claremont, California, this science and engineering school shares resources with the entire Claremont College system. Though expensive (highest cost for 2 years running from 2015-2016 in the whole country) you get a bang for your buck: the experience is intense. You benefit from small class sizes, great professors, and inspiring collaboration and brainstorming sessions with some of the best rising technical minds in the world. 

But the gauntlet doesn’t just start once you set foot on campus. Admissions are cutthroat too. The most recent admissions statistics show an acceptance rate of a mere 13.7% of the pool, and sky-high test scores almost a prerequisite for consideration. 

I’m ready

Ready to take on the challenge? Let’s kick it into high gear, because there’s no time to waste. In addition to the Common App or Coalition prompts, Harvey Mudd requires 2 pieces of writing: one essay (500 words), and one short answer (100 words). 

If you’re interested in reading more about the Harvey Mudd essays, check out their whole site here. Below, we’ve got the exact wording of the prompts and advice on how to get started on the right foot:


Harvey Mudd Essay

Please answer the following (500 word limit): What influenced you to apply to Harvey Mudd College? What about the HMC curriculum and community appeals to you?

This is your chance to answer the one word that’s not in the prompts: “why“? This boils down to a pretty straightforward “Why Us” prompt that you’ve probably already answered for another school. Don’t need to overthink it, but do take the time to flesh out your response fully and with evidence. 500 words is nothing to sneeze at, and considering this is the biggest chance to convey your passion, now is the time to double down. Dig through all the information about the school to find the unique connections and opportunities that resonate with your life goals.

Short Answer Question

Many students choose HMC because they don’t want to give up their interests in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts – or HSA as we call it at HMC. Briefly (in 100 words or less) describe what you’d like to learn about in your dream HSA class.

Stretch your wings and let your imagination run a little wild for this prompt! It’s short and snappy, weighing in at only 100 words total, so if you can cut to the chase you can pull it off. Demonstrate your well-roundedness (and aptitude for applying technical skills of analysis and logic to broader contexts and settings) with active curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

And then you’re already off to the races. Empowerly believes in you. We’re more than happy to support your family at any stage of the process, whether that’s deciding whether you honestly think you would thrive at a school like HMC, or finding the perfect university you’ve never heard of.

If you want to be part of the 13% that gets to call Harvey Mudd home, start now.

Questions? Let us know!