Supplement – “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.”

Writing high-quality supplemental essays is one of the most challenging (and most over-looked) aspects of the college application process. Especially at the top-tier, highly competitive schools, the supplemental essays are often what makes the difference in admissions decisions. Here are some tips from The Coach on how to write winning supplemental essays.

First and foremost – know the difference between the Common App Personal Statement and the Supplements.

  • The personal statement is an open-ended prompt, giving you the freedom to tell your own personal story.
  • A supplemental essay is a structured, specific prompt which requires a direct answer.

Most supplemental essay prompts boil down to “why us?” Admissions counselors reading the essays are assessing your demonstrated interest in attending their school. If accepted, how serious/committed are you about attending?

What college admission officers look for in supplemental essays:

  • Maturity of thought
  • Linking high school activities to future college experiences
  • Concise to the point answers
  • Complete and thorough responses that answer prompts
  • That you know what you want & how this college satisfies your needs

When writing your supplemental essays, be sure to:

  • Provide additional information that can’t be found in other parts of your application – don’t repeat the main idea of your personal statement. Supplemental essays do just that – supplement (add to) your file.
  • Do extensive research on the college – identify the specific reasons why you want to attend
  • Show why you are a good match for the school – give as many specifics as you can (academically, socially and/or culturally)
  • Make a personal connection between yourself and the university
  • Give a very direct response (most supplemental essays are 250 to 500 words)
  • Envision yourself on campus as a future student – who will you be and what will you be doing?

For More on Supplemental Essays: