Yes it’s that time of year — the 2018-2019 applications for Common Application colleges and universities are live. While many of you have spent part of the summer working diligently on your major personal statement/essay and maybe even have a second draft, don’t forget the importance of the supplemental essay(s) required by many schools. Far too often, the supplemental essay is the forgotten step child compared to the major personal statement. Students put so much time and effort into writing the perfect Common Application / Coalition Application essay, that supplemental essays take a back seat. Big mistake!
If you think about it, perhaps the supplemental essay is one of the most important essays you’ll write for your college applications. Why? Because the supplemental essay, in most instances, requires students to answer the “Why Us” question — what are the reasons you want to attend our institution and how can you contribute to our campus community.
Here are a few tips on how to write the best supplemental essays:
- Start early. Find out what supplemental essay(s) are required by the colleges of serious interest to you and those where you know you will apply.
- If you haven’t already done so, take good notes when you attend campus tours and information sessions. Yes, each college provides basic information about their academic programs, residential housing, health and wellness services, and food plans. But the most important information relates to your interests and what the college offers that is aligned with your academic and personal interests. Create a document on your computer with your notes about a college within a day or two of the visit. Down the road, you’ll find the “Why Us” essay much easier to write and more personal.
- Avoid talking about the location, weather, or city (unless it’s related to a particular program or internship of interest to you). Stick to the more substantive impressions you came away with from a college visit, an info session at your high school, or another event. Make your reasons for wanting to attend a particular school personal, substantive, and something that differentiates you from other students.
Don’t wait until the last minute to write this essay — you’ll end up visiting that college’s web site and regurgitating information college admissions staff already know.