In addition to the Common App essay (also known as the “personal statement,”) many schools require their own school-specific essays, also known as supplemental essays. Colleges request these so they can get to know the student even better. If you’re working on your supplemental essays now, you’re almost at the finish line!
1. Know which of your colleges require supplements. Essays can be found on the Common Application, Coalition Application, or institutional application. When you add a school to your list and fill in your major, the required Writing Requirements that you’ll need to answer will appear. This year, a few colleges have added supplemental essays to their application status portal after the student has submitted the application, so make sure to check your portals and your emails.
2. Read the essay prompt carefully. Some schools ask why you want to attend their college; others ask about a program or your planned major. Make sure you answer the specific question with the correct, nuanced answer.
3. Sell yourself. Use each essay to give the college a reason to want to admit you. Let them know what makes you special and how you will likely succeed. Even in a “Why ‘this college’ essay,” students can tell admissions something positive about themselves. Even in short statements of 10 words or fewer!
4. Avoid repeating information. In each essay, you must reveal something new. You can re-visit an activity you mentioned in another essay, but each essay must add something that can’t be found elsewhere in your app.
5. Do your homework. When a school asks why you want to attend, use specific details like courses and programs. Make sure everything you mention, including organizations, ties into your goals and interests. Also, know about the college’s priorities – from a distinct curriculum to community service engagement.
6. Get efficient and effective help. International College Counselors’ sister company Edit the Work can make essay writing easier by guiding students through what to write and how to write it effectively. They use a unique, personalized, and gentle approach that requires no worksheets nor other busy work. Writing counselors at Edit the Work also know what kind of information the colleges are looking for in the essays.
7. Stay within the word count. Many schools won’t let you submit essays which run over the word limit.
8. Write all optional essays. Even if a college says the essays are optional, you should treat them as though they’re really not. One exception is Duke University’s gender identity question.
For more information on how to best answer the supplemental essays or with any or all other parts of the college admissions process, visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 1-954-414-9986.
About International College Counselors
International College Counselors works with students from all over the world to help them reach their college and graduate school goals. Through a personal, one-on-one approach, the expert college advisors create an individualized plan for each student based on the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and passions. The holistic process helps families of middle school, high school, and college-aged students alleviate stress, avoid confusion, and get results.
“Nicole, I want to sincerely thank you for your extensive knowledge, professional guidance, and tireless reviews of A’s application and essay, and many other supports and help. A has been working very hard since freshman year of high school. It is your guidance and counseling that helped him achieve his goal and get accepted by his dream school.”
– Parent of Cornell-bound 2021 senior
“This email is a thank you and a message of gratitude. Ms. Medina has been not only the most outstanding resource for college admissions advice, but she has also been a resource for encouragement and understanding. I am beyond thankful for her…Ms. Medina recommended Barnard College to me. At first, I was unsure, but I am writing to you a few days after my early decision acceptance to Barnard to tell you that it was the best recommendation I have received in this process. Throughout the application process, Ms. Medina helped me edit my essays, learn more about the school, build a resume, and prepare any additional materials needed for my application. I always felt supported, challenged, and encouraged, and I am so beyond ecstatic for my future at Barnard. Ms. Medina also helped me create a perfect college list that fits my needs along with a plan for their applications, so I can safely say that even if I was rejected a few days ago, I would still feel comfortable and excited for the rest of this process. Although I am now committed to college, my family is excited to continue working with her as my little sister enters the college process herself.”
– 2021 Senior
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