How Do You Write A Supplemental Essay?

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Learn from Brad Schiller, CEO or Prompt, what a supplemental essay is and how to best structure a student's supplemental essay to share information that is not redundant to other information shared in the application.

What Is A Supplemental Essay?

In addition to the main personal statement for the Common Application and/or Coalition Application 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.

Many students might not know some schools will ask for additional essays. These writing supplements are usually shorter than the main college essay, but they’re no less important.

Some colleges ask for just one supplemental essay, while others may require several. Most of the more selective colleges will require at least one additional essay.

 

Are Supplemental Essays Important?

Most college applicants fail to put adequate time into a supplemental college essay. It’s tempting to dash off a generic and vague piece that can be used at multiple schools, resulting in a weak essay.

The most popular supplemental essay prompt is a “Why Us?” question.

Colleges ask this question to really find out why the student is applying to this institution and why have they listed a specific major/program? The best way to approach this question is to consider your visit, do more research, and find an angle that no one will use to capture how differently you see yourself and that specific college.
 
Another popular supplemental essay prompt is to ask students to write about an extracurricular or job-related experience. It’s good to save a this types of experiences for a supplemental essay instead of using it in the main college essay. 
 

Here’s some last piece of advice:

  1. 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.
  2. Keep track of the essays you need to write.  You don’t want to realize you’ve missed one on the day of submission.

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Road2College

Road2College

Debbie Schwartz is former financial services executive and founder of Road2College and the Paying For College 101 Facebook group. She's dedicated to providing families with trustworthy information about college admissions and paying for college. With data, tools and access to experts she's helping families become educated consumers of higher ed.
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