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10 Tips for Writing Great Supplemental Essays for College Admissions

The main personal statement for the Common Application and/or Coalition Application is often just one of the essays you’ll need to write for college admissions.  Many schools include their own school-specific essays, also known as supplemental essays.  These are additional pieces of writing that give admissions officers the chance to get to know you better. Supplemental essay prompts are already out for many colleges including the University of Michigan, University of California, Emory, UT Austin, Indiana University and others.
Here are some tips for writing great college supplemental essays:
  1. Ascertain which of your college choices require supplements. Check our essay list on the International College Counselors website.  Essays are also on the college websites.  Starting in August, you will also be able to see many of the questions on your applications. When you add a school to your list and fill in your major, you can see the prompts you’ll need to answer within the school’s supplemental sections.
  2. Read the essay prompt carefully.  Some schools ask why you want to attend their college, others ask about your interest in a particular program or your major.  If a question asks about a specific program, don’t respond by writing about the college as a whole.
  3. Write about yourself. Use each essay to present information about yourself that will make the college want you.  Even in a “Why XYZ School” essay, you should be telling admissions something positive about yourself.  Even in essays of 10 words or less!
  4. Do not repeat anything from the rest of your Common App or Coalition App.  In each essay, you want to reveal something new about yourself. You can re-mention an activity, but each essay must add something that can’t be found elsewhere in your app.
  5. Do your homework.  When a school’s essay prompt asks you to tell it why you want to go there, use specific details like courses and programs of interest to you at that school.  Make sure everything you mention, including organizations, ties into your goals and interests.  Also know about the college and what its admissions officers might be looking for in their applicants.  For example, Tulane wants to know you are community and community service minded.
  6. Recycle your essays the smart way. If two or more colleges have similar questions, don’t hesitate to re-use one of your stories.  Just don’t be careless and paste in a college specific essay or details for the wrong school.
  7. Know there are no optional essays.  Even if a college says the essays are optional.
  8. Stay within the word count. Many schools won’t let you submit essays which are over the maximum word count, while many others have minimum word counts you’ll also need to meet.
  9. Keep track of the essays you need to write.  You don’t want to realize you’ve missed one on the day of submission.
  10. Let us help you. The expert college advisors at International College Counselors can make the essays easier by guiding you on what to write and how to write it.
For more information on how to best answer the college supplemental essay prompts or with any or all parts of the college admissions process, visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 1-954 414-9986.