The Big Picture: The Power of Writing Supplements
Let us help you. All College Application Essays has done the hard work of collecting all the Supplemental Essays for you. We tell you where to find them, what each additional essay prompt requires, and the length and submission format. If you cannot afford our website, let us know and we can send you a gift certificate to purchase it. We are free for public school counselors.
Here are some tips to write powerful supplemental essays.
- Embrace Additional Writing Requirements. Most selective colleges using the Common Application or Coalition Application have additional individual Member Questions and/or Writing Supplements. View these supplemental essay opportunities, as great offerings, as less is not more in the world of the competitive application process. Great supplemental essay responses will add new pieces to your powerful application. Moreover, view anything optional as a must do.
- 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 and Coalition Applications and even your activity list and letters of recommendation. Look at the supplemental essays as a way to flesh out and expand that picture with new reasons to admit you.
- Each college’s questions are unique. While all colleges will see your Common or Coalition Application main essay, only the individual colleges will see your additional responses. Some will have one essay while others will have several short prompts that vary in size from small to medium to large. Each question and/or supplemental prompt, 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.
- Use our Into, Though, and Beyond approach in each essay. In each essay provide a hook, key context information, and then a powerful ending. You can find our tips for writing great essays on our website: www.allcollegeessays.org.
- Be even smarter than the smart writing questions or 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 running track of what you have to write for each prompt based on your Member Question selections. We help you with that process.
- 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 about 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.
- Recycle essays and re-use supplemental essays wisely. Remember, each question and/or supplement is separate and belongs to the individual college and you. Find ways that some prompts overlap For example, you can see a way to use your University of Chicago Supplemental essays as your Boston College Supplement. You can use some for Honors and Scholarship Essays. Yet don’t be careless, and cut and paste a college specific essay into the wrong college’s box.
- Prepare an activity statement. A short statement about one of your activities is now optional for colleges to use. These statements appear in different places, so be prepared by having two to three statements ready to go. 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.
- Read 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 to Tulane University. Read how colleges view the essays on their websites.
- Know the length and format of each college specific essay. You can submit essays several ways—paste in, upload, or share. All use word limits. We provide each submission format—from whether it is required or optional, to word ranges, to submission methods.