College applications are stressful: you have to write your common application essay, fill out the rest of the application, and apply through different systems for certain colleges. On top of all that, there seems to be a never-ending list of supplemental essays to write.
Supplemental essays are the extra essays that most schools require as a part of the application process:
- Why do you want to attend our school?
- Why do you want to study your first choice major?
- What will you contribute to our school community?
These are just a few of the most common supplemental prompts. In this blog, we will talk about general tips for supplemental applications. We’ll also cover common supplemental questions.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Get Organized: Many schools have supplemental essays that are similar or, sometimes, exactly the same. Organize your supplemental essays by due dates and prompts. If you have several prompts that are similar, don’t write them multiple times – create a template and customize it for each school’s prompt!
- Answer the Questions Directly: We often answer these prompts with a related story, but don’t forget to actually answer the question! Make sure you at least end your supplemental with a direct answer to the question. If the supplemental is asking what you will bring to their community, tell them what that is!
- Show Your Passion for Your Field of Study: Don’t answer “Why do you want to study your first choice major?” with “It will provide many lucrative opportunities.” The admissions committee wants candidates who can graduate without getting exhausted or overwhelmed. A key factor in accomplishing this is passion for what you’re studying – make sure to show that!
- Demonstrate You Have Researched the School: The admissions committee is looking for students who are excited about their college and will participate in what the school has to offer – think about specific classes, programs, or opportunities that the school offers. They are not looking for someone who is applying just because they saw the school on a list of “Best Colleges for Engineering”.
- Paint a Picture: Use these supplementals to tell stories that complete the picture of who you are as a well-rounded person.
- Panic: While it may seem like you have a million questions to answer, most of them are actually quite similar. If you Do #1 (Get Organized), it’ll be much less overwhelming to get these supplementals done.
- Write About Things That You Don’t Want to Talk About in an Interview: If you interview with a school, they will pull from your application for talking points. If there is an experience that you don’t want to talk about, don’t write about it!
- Turn It Into a Resume: The admissions committee already has your resume–don’t write it all over again.
- Repeat yourself: Don’t repeat activities or ideas from your Personal Statement in your supplementals. Use this space to tell them something new!
Let’s Get Specific
Why do you want to attend our school?
Translation: Have you done your research? Do you really want to go here, or are you just applying because you know our school by name?
This is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee why their school is appealing to you. What programs do you want to be involved in? What aspect of their academics make you want to pick this school over others?
- Be school-specific: Don’t mention classes or clubs that you can take at any school (e.g. Comp Sci 101). Make sure you’re mentioning things that are specific to this school.
- Do your research!!! If you didn’t do your own research on the school and just relied on rumors, the admissions officer will notice and won’t be impressed.
- “Why are we perfect for each other?” Imagine this essay as a compatibility statement. It explains why you and this college are a perfect match.
- State the obvious: Avoid providing general facts about the school’s size, location, weather, ranking or reputation.
- Make mistakes about the school’s details: Especially if you’re using templates, make sure you’re talking about the right school! Messing up the school’s colors or mascot is a great way to get your application set aside.!
- Be vague: The admissions committee is looking for specifics, so avoid vague statements like, “It just felt right”.
- Copy and paste from the website: At many schools, admissions officers participate in generating content for the school’s website. (Read: they will recognize the language you copy and paste from the website). State in your own words why this school will be a great fit for you.
Why do you want to study your first choice major?
Translation: Do you understand your field of study well and are you genuinely excited about it?
In this essay, you want to showcase your passion and commitment to your selected major. Tell them why you’re interested in this field and any experiences that made you interested. Also, explain how choosing this major connects with your future goals.
- Be specific about your interest: Dive into the aspects of the major that intrigue you the most.
- Connect it to your future: Explain how studying this major aligns with your career aspirations.
- Mention relevant experiences: Share any internships, projects, or personal experiences that influenced your choice.
- Provide generic answers: Avoid vague statements like “I want to help people” without specifying how.
- Focus solely on career prospects: While future opportunities matter, also emphasize your genuine interest in the subject.
What will you contribute to our school community?
Translation: Are you interested in giving back and being active on campus, not just taking from the college?
This question assesses your potential impact on the college community. Admission officers want to see that you’ll contribute positively, adding value beyond academics.
- Highlight your unique qualities: Share personal qualities, skills, or experiences that make you stand out.
- Connect to campus activities: Mention specific clubs, organizations, or events you want to be part of.
- Emphasize collaboration: Showcase how you’ll work well with others and contribute to a positive, inclusive community.
- Overstate or exaggerate: Be genuine about your potential contributions.
- Focus solely on academic achievements: While important, they want to see your broader impact on campus life.
- Provide generic answers: Avoid clichés; be specific about your contributions.
To sum up, mastering supplemental essays helps you stand out in a sea of applications. Think carefully about your answers and make sure your strengths match the school’s requirements. As you navigate this challenging process, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from experienced mentors. Mindfish’s team of college essay coaches stands ready to provide personalized support, ensuring your essays truly reflect the exceptional individual you are. Best of luck in your college application journey!