When filling out your Common Application, most colleges ask for supplemental information in addition to the information provided in your main essay. These questions feature college-specific inquiries that allow you to showcase your talents and tell your story in a way that demonstrates your unique fit for their particular program. You want to use these additional essays to highlight why exactly you’ve chosen these schools and why you’d be a great addition to their academics and campus life.
Each college has their own set of unique questions. Although two college’s supplemental questions may be similar, it is important to submit unique and distinct essays for each one. For example, the reasons behind you choosing to apply to Brown may be drastically different than the reasons behind you choosing to apply to Franklin Olin. Thus, it will be obvious to readers if you’re simply using a copy-pasted response for each question that may be similar. It is important to tailor your answers directly to the college for which you are applying. Each question or answer is another opportunity for you to convince the admissions officer why they should take a chance on you, so you have to use these opportunities to your advantage! Make sure to take time with each response. Often times, students will spend all of their focus on their main essay, and their supplemental responses will lack the same level of quality or effort.
This is not the image you want to portray to the admissions officers. Make sure you take breaks and don’t let yourself get worn out when filling out applications. Treat the supplemental essays and questions the same way as you treat the main essays, and ask friends and family to help you review and edit your responses. You want to present yourself well from every direction in which you may be analyzed. Most importantly, do your research into the schools you are applying to. You should be familiar with the personality and reputation of every college you wish to attend, and you should know why it is that college appeals to you on multiple levels. The supplemental essays are where you can truly demonstrate how much time you’ve put into researching their schools, and using that in your writing will help readers explicitly see where you plan to fit in and contribute to their institution.
When filling out your application, it’s also important to occasionally step back and take a look at the “big picture” that you’re presenting to the institution. The college will receive many pieces of information about you, and will use these pieces of information in order to try to piece together what you’re like as an individual. It’s important for you to examine each piece of writing the college will receive, and try to envision the story that they tell as a whole. Do two of your essays or answers contradict each other? Does your personality shine through? Be sure to edit your responses to address any conflicts or inconsistencies, while making sure you’re not simply being repetitive.
In addition, many schools give you the opportunity to provide optional writing supplements. In terms of college applications, less does not equal more! If you have something unique or some piece of writing that you are really proud of, feel free to attach it here. View these optional attachments as additional opportunities to let your individuality shine through your application. Attaching additional writing will help college admissions officers get a sense of who you really are and whether or not you will fit in with their institution.