Less Is Not More: 15 Tips for Using #CA4 Writing Supplements to Strengthen Your College Applications
- Embrace Writing Supplements. Most selective colleges using the Common Application have individual Writing Supplements. View these supplements as great offerings, as less is not more in the world of the competitive application process. Colleges that have supplemental essays really want to learn more about you– from you. So give them what they want. Great supplemental essay responses will give admissions officers more reasons to admit you and even give you a scholarship
- Start with the big picture. Take a look at each written piece the college will receive from and about you—include your essays from the Common Application and even your activity list and letters of recommendation. Look at the supplemental essays as a way to flesh out and expand that picture. See all of your opportunities to share information, and make sure you don’t repeat yourself and what you’ve already discussed in the Common Application.
- Each Writing Supplement is unique. While all colleges will see your Common Application, only the individual colleges will see your Writing Supplement. So each one is different. Colleges can ask all kinds of questions. Some will have one essay while others will have several. Each supplement, no matter what it requires you to provide, is another opportunity to provide more valuable information about yourself to the colleges you seek to attend.
- Each Writing Supplement Prompt is different. Be prepared to write a variety of supplemental essays from short one-line responses to medium size responses to 650 word essays. No matter what the length, each response is a new chance to tell a different story or message about what you will offer a college.
- Use our Into, Through, and Beyond approach in each essay. In each essay provide a hook, key context information, and then powerful ending. You can find our tips for writing great essays on our website: www.allcollegeessays.org.
- Be even smarter than the smart writing supplements. Some of your questions will appear based on what you answer in Member Question about particular majors or merit scholarships. Don’t be surprised if an essay disappears if you change your major or select no to a particular program or scholarship. Keep a running track of what you have to write for each supplement based on your Member Question selections.
- Learn deeply about the personality and reputation of college. Think of what each college values when writing your supplemental essays. If the college is large, and asks a community or diversity question, think how you can make a big campus small. Think how you can enrich a diverse community and how well you can join existing communities. If the college is small, think of ways you can truly engage as a member of an intense learning community. If the college is religious, think of ways you can enrich the spiritual community
- Let us help you. All College Application Essays has done the hard work of collecting all the Supplemental Essays for you. You don’t need to waste your time collecting the essays and their formats, if we already have. Spend your time writing powerful essays that communicate even more reasons for a college to accept you.
- Recycle essays and re-use supplemental essays wisely. Remember, each supplement is separate and belongs to the individual college and you. The colleges do not communicate with each other, so you can use some of your essays over and over again, especially the longer ones and the optional activity statements. For example, you can see a way to use your University of Chicago Supplemental essays as your Boston College Supplement. Yet don’t be careless, and cut and paste a college specific essay into the wrong college.
- Prepare an activity statement. A short statement about one of your activities is now optional for colleges to use in their Writing Supplement. You will need to have an activity statement ready to go as many colleges are using it in their supplement. The word limit will vary based on the college so have a short, medium, and long version. Focus on your leadership and initiative while also grounding your response in a specific story. Also some of these essays may lead to even better longer essays.
- Share more core qualities, experiences, and interests in college “Dating” essays. Many colleges have specific supplemental essays prompts geared around why you and the college are a good match. Read the specific word on these prompts. Give colleges what they want, a reason to ask you out and ideally propose. Some colleges want only academic information while others want an overall essay. Understand that if they have this prompt, they want to know how you will fit into their campuses. They don’t want mere recaps of what they know they offer. Think of how you can engage specifically on their campuses. Some campuses even send these essays out to professors or specific communities to read. Give specific examples from your visits, college fair talks with admissions officers, or emails with professors or current students. Let them picture you on their campuses by literally picturing yourself on their campus.
- Nothing is optional. Some colleges give you some optional essays. Do not ignore these options to offer new information. Each essay is a chance to share a new reason why you belong on that campus. Of course, don’t force yourself to answer an essay that doesn’t match.
- Read each college’s specific essay tips. Most colleges now have a variety of ways to communicate their views on college essays. Some even provide model essays, including, Johns Hopkins University, Carleton College, and Connecticut College. Others give great tips from The University of Michigan to Boston University. Read how colleges view the essays on their websites. College specific tips may help you write essays that you engage your admissions readers.
- Use the CA4 right hand tips on each individual section of the Common Application website. Each college has the opportunity to communicate college specific tips on the right hand side of the application. Some of the right hand tips on the Member Questions and Writing Supplements will give you information about particular programs that you can research more about. The tips even provide links to more information on the Common Application or college websites.
- Know the length and format of each supplemental essay. You can submit essays in two ways—paste in or upload. The majority of colleges are using the “paste in” method. Some allow you to upload. All use word limits. Sadly, the text box does not always tell you the word limit even after you paste in. So you can experiment or save your time to write the essay by using our app: All College Application Essays. We provide each submission format—from whether it is required or optional, to word ranges, to submission methods.
BONUS TIP: Use these #CA4Writing Supplements to present even more powerful information about the additional ways you can enrich each college’s campus. You have plenty of time. Now get going. First buy our app, All College Application Essays, and then start brainstorming and writing your college application essays.