You’ve filled out your Common App — congratulations! But what’s this? More essays? Afraid so; the Common App in and of itself may be complete, but there are still more essays to contend with — these are what’s known as the supplementary essays, which are specific to each school to which you’re applying. Although these will likely be much shorter than your Common App essay, they’re still an important part of your application. So how should you approach the supplementary essays? Let’s have a look:
“Why did you choose our school?”
One of the most common questions on a supplementary essay, which can be asked either directly or indirectly, is the “why this school” question. College admissions officers know that students apply to many different colleges, and want to find students who have a vested interest in attending their school. This essay is a time for specificity — show your knowledge of the school in question with details about their academic offerings, reputation, and even their history! And if you have a personal connection to the school, such as growing up near campus and having wanted to go there since childhood, be sure to mention that too — the more specificity, the better!
Choosing your topic
Some supplementary essays will give you a choice of topics: scenarios to imagine or questions to answer. In these cases, choosing the right essay to write is half the battle. While it’s tempting to look for a magic formula to pick the right essay, this is more of a situation where you have to “go with your gut” — if you’re drawn to a prompt and feel inspiration knocking, go for it! That’s likely the right choice for you to write.
Budgeting your time wisely
While ideas and ambition may be unlimited, time is a finite resource. Supplementary essays are important, but you need to budget your time so that they don’t overshadow the rest of your applications that need writing and managing. Give yourself a week to draft a supplementary essay, and then put it on “pause” to give yourself a break — these are shorter essays, and you’ll be writing several of them, so it’s important not to let any single one chew up all your time!
Review, review, review!
There’s a reason you need to put the essays on “pause” rather than stopping altogether — remember to review! Again, with many students writing several supplementary essays over a relatively short period of time, it’s easy to slip up in your first draft. That’s where review comes in: looking at your essays with fresh eyes to spot spelling and grammar mistakes, poor choices of phrasing, or worst of all, getting the name of the school wrong! It’s advisable to review your essay at least twice before submitting it.
You don’t have to be the only person reviewing your supplementary essays either. Having a parent, a friend, or a professional coach, like A-List offers, look them over can be invaluable, and give you an important outside perspective. And remember, no essay is ever perfect, but with the right approach, and an open mind towards constructive criticism, yours will be the best it can possibly be!
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