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10 Helpful Supplemental Essay Writing Tips

Here are 10 helpful tips that can help you craft a memorable supplemental essay:

1. Always understand the prompt first. Read the prompt at least three times before you start writing. Highlight the keywords in the prompt that can help you grasp what the college is really asking and what they expect from your response.

2. Do not overlap your supplemental essays with your Common App essay. You need to think of each story as a color and make your application as colorful as you can. Make sure your stories are interesting and personable. Portray yourself as a young professional who cares about intellectual growth.

3. Avoid writing about your childhood. Instead, focus on your stories from 9th grade and beyond. Do not make up your stories. Your essays need to be based on evidence, which is your personal experience.

4. Dig the school’s website, which is the best resource. Familiarize yourself with their mission, values, programs, and unique opportunities the college offers. It will allow you to tailor your essay to demonstrate your fit with the institution. Avoid generic statements that could apply to any schools.

5. Connect your experiences, interests, or aspirations to the opportunities and resources available at the college. Explain how the college's specific programs, courses, or extracurricular activities align with your passions and goals.

6. Stay authentic. Be true to yourself and your own voice. Avoid trying to fit into a certain mold or writing what you think the college wants to hear.

7. Use clear and concise language to convey your ideas. Admissions officers need to digest a lot of information in a short period of time, so being succinct can help your essay stand out.

8. Show, don't tell. Don’t write about self-explanatory activities that Admissions Officers already know about through your activities list. Elaborate on an activity or a self-initiated project that couldn’t fit in the activities list.

9. For the “Why Major” essay, you need to show how it evolved from an interest to something you want to pursue. For example:

  • Must demonstrate your intellectual curiosity. (E.g. “I became curious about…”)

  • Then, you need to talk about how you became certain that this was something you wanted to pursue. (E.g. “It became clear to me that this topic was…..”)

  • Discuss how you are going to continue developing this interest into an accomplishment (E.g. “By pursuing this, I want to…”)

10. Your essays are not your resumes. Your essays are not the place for you to make a list of your achievements. Instead, your essays are for you to reflect on yourself and showcase your personality. Instead of describing all the things you've done for your community, you can highlight your personal growth by only focusing on one memorable story regarding your contribution to your community.

In summary, your Common App essay is about you as a person. Your supplemental essays are about you as a student. When writing your supplemental essays, it’s very important to highlight your talents, skills, abilities, and intellectual curiosity as a future scholar.

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