Most students spend hours and hours on their personal essays for the Common Application, polishing them again and again, but they save their supplements for the last minute. This is a big mistake!
Each college asks its own supplement questions, and they read your answers to see whether you will be a good fit for their unique programs and community. Story To College will be hosting a free webinar on December 6, 2012 to help you complete powerful supplements.
Here are tips to master the 3 most common types of supplements and connect with your top-choice colleges:
Why Do You Want to Attend This College? You could say this is the most important question of all. Take the time to get to know each college: What courses will you take? What activities will you lead? How will you make a difference? Connect the things you want to do at that college with activities you’ve already done. For example: “My main extracurricular at Milton High was leading the environmental team, a group of 20 students who follow global environmental news and take action in our school community. I am drawn to Clark’s One World Environment Club and the current engagement around climate change.” The time you take to make these connections for each college will not only help you get in, but also help you hit the ground running once you arrive!
Describe an issue that is important to you. While students often prefer to write application essays that are driven by ideas, college admissions officers warm to essays that come from your heart. So let’s say human rights is a passion of yours, and an issue around which you have taken action and made a difference. Where did that commitment come from? Did something happen to you or someone you know? It’s usually stronger to anchor this type of essay in your own experience—both the ways that the issue came to be important to you, and what you have done as a result. Remember: You show the issue matters by taking action. So pick an issue where you have done something, not just something you think about and might do later.
College X is committed to building a diverse community. What do you bring to the diversity of our community? Take time to think beyond the obvious on this one, and be careful to avoid superficial labels—about yourself or anyone else. What does community mean to you? What do you uniquely bring to your campus community? Are there moments that reveal your beliefs about community? Is there work you have done to build community? What type of community will you engender in college?
Remember, the Common Application and supplement essays you send to each college are a story about you—who you have been in the past, and especially who you are going to be in the future. Take the time to get to know each college you are applying to, and show them with specific details that your past experience makes you a great fit for their community. Want to know if your essay is ready? Sign up for our free webinar and learn even more tips to conquer your supplements.
Carol Barash, PhD, is the Founder and CEO of Story To College (www.storytocollege.com), a company that teaches high school and college students tools to advocate for themselves in college admissions, job interviews, and life in the 21st century. She is a graduate of Yale and Princeton and an award-winning professor and admissions reader at Rutgers University. She advises students, parents, and schools on how to expand educational access and college writing readiness.