9 Tips for Writing Exceptional Supplemental Essays for College Admissions

When applying to college, the Personal Statement essay for the Common Application and/or Coalition Application is often only one of the essays you’ll be required to write. Many universities include their own school-specific prompts. These statements, known as supplemental essays, are additional pieces of writing that allow admissions officers the chance to get to know students better.

Here are some helpful tips for writing your best college supplemental essays:

Confirm which colleges on your list require supplemental essays. The supplemental writing prompts can be found on the college’s application. The essay may be found under the section marked “Application Essay Questions,” under “Writing Supplement,” or they can be hidden somewhere else. When you add a school to your list, you can access the prompts you’ll need to answer within the college’s supplemental sections, but make sure to look around. The International College Counselors website also has a pretty comprehensive list of many of the supplemental writing prompts.

Read the supplemental essay prompt carefully. Colleges ask a variety of questions. This year, college prompts inquire about your interest in a specific program or major, why you want to attend their college, your community service involvement, your resiliency, your favorite word, and numerous other topics. If the prompt asks about an individual program, be as specific as you can – do your research on the college’s website. Don’t respond by writing about the college as a whole.

Write about yourself. Every essay is an opportunity to present information about yourself that will make colleges want to admit you. Even in a “Why X School” supplement, you should be sharing something positive about yourself. Even in essays of 20 words or fewer!

Don’t repeat your Common App or Coalition App Main Essay. Each essay should reveal something new about yourself. You can re-mention an activity you’ve listed on your application, but each essay should add something that can’t be found anywhere else in your application.

Do your research. When a college’s prompt asks why you want to attend this college, mention specific details like courses and programs of interest to you at that school. Everything you mention, including organizations, should tie into the goals and interests you describe in your application. Learn about the college and what its admissions readers might be looking for in their applicants.

Work smarter: re-use your essays! If two or more colleges ask similar questions, don’t hesitate to recycle one of your stories. Just check over your work. You don’t want to be careless and paste in a college-specific essay or details for the wrong school.

There are no optional essays. If a college says the essays are optional, always write them.

Don’t exceed the word count. Many colleges won’t allow you to submit essays which exceed the maximum word count, while many others have minimum word counts that you’ll also need to meet.

Let us help you. The expert college advising team at International College Counselors can make essay writing easier by guiding you regarding what to write about and how to write it.

For more information on how to best answer supplemental essay questions or with any or all parts of the college admissions process, visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 1-954 414-9986.

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