By Liz Jackson
If you have a rising senior, then you have probably heard about the importance of the personal statement–the “big” essay that accompanies all completed college applications. But you may know less about supplement essays–pieces of writing that are specific to each college on your student’s list. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes I see students make is to think of these supplemental essays as secondary in importance.
When I think of supplemental essays, I am always reminded of a conversation I had with a colleague in admissions at a college in southern California about an applicant who otherwise was well-qualified for admission but whose supplemental essay did not effectively convey her desire to attend the college. The lack of specifics in her essay indicated to my admissions colleague that she wasn’t serious about wanting to attend, and that was all the evidence he needed to put the student on the waitlist instead of admitting her.
Supplemental essays are one of the most important ways for students to demonstrate their seriousness about the colleges on their list, or to share important components of their personalities or experiences (and, of course, to demonstrate the strength of their writing skills). What can be challenging, though, is that colleges often change their supplemental essay prompts over the summer. So even the most eager applicants can’t get all their essays completed in June, for instance, when many colleges haven’t updated their questions yet.
However, colleges have been rolling out their new essay prompts throughout the months of June and July. University of Chicago, for example, which is famous for its unusual supplemental essay prompts, released its new slate several weeks ago, and colleges like University of Richmond and Villanova have their essays posted on their websites. It is well worth your senior’s time to check out these prompts and to reflect deeply on them, taking their time to respond to the prompts thoughtfully and with as much dedication and effort as they do their personal statements!
Galin’s essay coaches are experts in helping guide students through supplemental essays, and helping students develop their unique voices and ideas. Schedule an appointment with a writing coach today!