How to Write the Lehigh University Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2021/2022

This is the “Why Major” for all majors. Unlike Prompt 1, this one doesn’t specifically ask about Lehigh’s program in that major (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add a bonus Why Lehigh example!) 

For Art-Engineering and CSB program applicants, since you’ve already covered your interest in your particular program, use this prompt to show your interest in your wider major(s) of choice.

Read our full guide to the “Why Major” here. Or, here’s the short version:

Step #1: Imagine a mini-movie of the moments that led you to your interest in a specific subject or your intended major and create a simple, bullet-point outline.

For example:

Why biology?

  • Elementary school: Getting my first dinosaur toy and reading dinosaur books

  • Middle school: Visiting museums, seeing water under a microscope

  • High school: Doing online research, getting internship where we analyzed brainwaves and dissected a stingray

Step #2: Put your moments (aka the “scenes” of your mini-movie) in chronological order, as it’ll help you see how your interests developed. It also makes it easier to write transitions. 

Step #3: Decide if you want to include a specific thesis that explicitly states your central argument—in this case, what you want to study and why. You can put this thesis at the beginning, middle, or end of your essay. For a short prompt like this, you may really only need a single sentence.

Here’s a Lehigh example we love. Note that this was written for a version of the prompt that allowed for a longer word limit, so you’ll have less space to work with.


Springtime. My backyard bursts in a flame of color–clematis, lilacs, and Black-eyed susans blooming, and a garden patch with tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and watermelons. There was never a time when I was not cultivating and sustaining gardens. I worked to preserve life in other ways too, investing my time in research and innovation. Lehigh University compels me to look for ways to continue sustaining life and growth.

I look to major in biology and spark growth on the micro level by minoring in molecular biology. I am intrigued by research projects at Lehigh like “Biomarkers of Mood Disorders in Blood” which examined changes in gene expression and stress. I hope to build on this with a research project angled towards development of biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s.

When I interned with Professor Vershon at the Rutgers Waksman Institute, I investigated the DNA coding process and its contribution to the constant sustenance of life through protein-building in the duckweed plant. At Lehigh, I hope to receive the Strohl Research Grant, which would allow me to independently study how the duckweed plant’s potential as a long-lasting energy source can be used.

When I think of growth and life, I also consider surgery, which sustains life by giving people a second chance. As STEM Club officer, I’ve researched how the technological and surgical worlds intersect by modelling a robotic arm after a surgical robot. As surgery is the career I am most passionate about, Lehigh’s Health, Medicine, and Society Program will expose me to how medical care through surgery impacts both individuals and their families.

As someone who is driven by scientific research, I am most intrigued by Lehigh’s unique opportunities in the field, ones that are centered upon sustaining life and engaging people with the natural world. 

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Tips + Analysis

  1. Consider giving your mini-movie a theme. One way to tie together the moments that led to your interest in your major (those “scenes” of your “mini-movie”) is with a thematic thread. For this student, the thread is her devotion to “sustaining life and growth.” After setting the scene in the intro, she uses variations of those keywords as transitions, helping her string together her Why Biology reasons in a pretty compelling way. This structure can propel the piece forward and keep readers engaged. 

  2. Talk about Lehigh’s program. This is a great opportunity to speak to how Lehigh’s offerings in your program of choice are especially appealing. This essay is full of such examples, from the Biomarkers of Mood Disorders in Blood research project to the Strohl Research Grant to Lehigh’s Health, Medicine, and Society Program. 

  3. Show how you’d take advantage of Lehigh opportunities. Notice how this student doesn’t just talk about what interests her about Lehigh’s biology major and molecular biology minor but what she’d do with those interests at Lehigh. Ex.: building on the Biomarkers of Mood Disorders in Blood project with a project “angled towards development of biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s” and studying the “duckweed plant’s potential as a long-lasting energy source.” These details help us imagine her on campus—not just learning but contributing.

And because we like bonuses, here’s a bonus example for this prompt (also written for a longer version of this prompt).

Bonus example:

I embody two souls: an untamed businesswoman and her introverted companion. I’m one of those people who talks to strangers at auctions for hours, but can’t explain her feelings to friends. At the same time, I’m a leader in my own little universe: daughter, sister, self-reliant real estate magnate (so I’d like to think). In Lehigh I see similar dichotomies: classic, but contemporary by nature; a deeply American institution, but one that celebrates its cultural diversity. At Lehigh, this confident entrepreneur who’s still looking for her voice will thrive on competition. Business is my forte, math is my happy place, and I look forward to majoring in Business Economics with a minor in Mathematics. 

My future is also firmly tied to my identity as a Muslim woman and my commitment to my faith. As I publicly become the person I am in private, I can see myself as a leader in Lehigh’s MSA, Best Buddies, or the Family Business club. I also look forward to creating collaborative spaces with other like-minded folks in my own “Economics of Food” club.

Speaking of which, I’ve been a foodie since childhood, passionately consuming Mauritian Gato Pima, chicken feet, and the Bangladeshi delicacy Sweet Shemai. At Lehigh, I can begin my journey of becoming a great restaurant maven with classes like “Supply, Cost, and Risk Management” and “Entrepreneurship and Enterprise.” As a restaurateur and polyglot who loves to travel, I hope to add three or four languages to my arsenal, starting with “Latin Prose,”  “German Conversation and Composition,” and “Elementary French.”

And someday, in addition to running my Bengali/French/Italian fusion restaurants, I will become the next Cathy Engelbert, fighting for the next generation of ambitious young women, a journey I started at Lehigh. (291 words)

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