Writing Supplemental Essays

In addition to your personal essay, some schools require a supplemental essay as a part of the application process. In the supplemental essay, you are often asked to explain why you want to apply to that particular school and why you would be a good fit. Here are some tips to help you out as you tackle these types of prompts:

Identify your passions 

Before you get started on the essay, think carefully about where your interests lie. In addition to studying, what else do you hope to do while at college? Are you passionate about science and want to work in a research lab? Do you love sports and plan to join an intramural soccer team? Do you enjoy writing and dream of working for the school newspaper? Write it all down and come up with a list of a couple of things that are essential to your college experience. 

Do your research 

Now that you know what’s important to you, go onto the school’s website and find out what opportunities they have in those fields. Most schools have a list of available extracurriculars and student groups that you can join when you get there. It’s also beneficial to look up different academic programs, research opportunities, internships and study abroad options. As you’re doing this, jot down everything you find that makes you genuinely excited. 

Culture matters 

Another aspect you should touch on in your essay is the school culture. Is the school’s community based around sports? A tiny liberal arts college with a small-town feel? Is there a strong religious presence on campus? In your essay, you should identify the school culture and explain why it’s a good match for you. Use as much first-hand experience as you can. If you’ve visited, mention something you learned on the tour that stood out to you. If you haven’t had the chance to visit, browse on the school’s website and look at class sizes, research the city the school is located in and read about student experiences. The more information you can get, the better.

Quality over quantity

Once you’ve done your research, you’re ready to begin writing the essay. These essays are usually short: only one or two paragraphs. Since you do not have a ton of space, prioritize quality over quantity. First, in a few sentences, explain why the school would be a good culture fit for you. Then, rather than listing out every activity you find interesting, select two or three of the opportunities from your list and talk about why you want to do them in detail. Be as specific as possible, mentioning the exact names of the programs or student groups you’ve researched. Colleges will be impressed with your attention to detail and it’ll show that you’re serious about the school. 

Be authentic 

Sometimes students write down the things that they think colleges want to hear. However, you should always be true to yourself. For example, if the school is super religious, and that’s not something that matters to you, don’t say that it is. The most important thing is that you’re happy and successful wherever you go to college. This essay provides an excellent opportunity to think critically about your values and determine whether they align with that schools mission. In your research, you might find that it’s not a good fit, and that’s okay! It’s better to know early on. 

Don’t stress 

There are no right or wrong answers for this essay. As long as you put some thought into it and do your best to explain yourself, you’re all set.  Colleges want to see you for the student you are. Look at it as a chance for them to get to know you better. Don’t forget to have fun with it!