The match has to be right
Successful supplemental essays for college admission, just like successful dating
and mating, but you’re not there yet, are all about the suitability of the particular match made.
After much skepticism
and playing hard-to-get, I was matched with my amazing husband online–score! A good algorithm found the overlap in our particulars. By contrast, I’ve read about 600 mediocre supplemental essays in the past month that demo a weak match at best.
A primer on better verbal flirting with educational institutions in these important supplemental essays is clearly needed for college applicants who are eager to be passionately and appropriately paired.
False starts can be fixed
Not the writer’s fault: these essays, like dating, can be full of false starts. But here’s how intentionally approaching the supplemental essays like you would online dating helps you produce convincing writing and persuade the target schools you’re a good match.
(And those of you more interested in dating than writing, remember this supplemental fact: wherever you enroll, you’ll likely wind up in romantic relationships too…so consider the pool you enter!)
Get rid of the myth of the perfect person– that is, the perfect school
The myth of the “perfect fit” between student and school blinds a lot of applicants to the variety of schools out there with whom they would make great “couples.”
“Perfect” (which comes from the Latin word meaning “complete”) can really only be determined AFTER the fact. Once you’re in cap and gown with electrolyte water in hand to march in your graduation, you can look back and say, “That was it!”
Likewise a “perfect” match with a person is nearly impossible; for example, my husband loves heavy metal and thinks Pizza is a food group– no no no. If we had to match “perfectly”– forget it, he’d be out looking for a woman whom he could take on a two-for-one slice date. If I assessed our suitability on those points alone, I’d also be single. He is not perfect for me– but he is just right.
Likewise, there are no “perfect” schools– but there are schools that will support the kind of student and person you are and wish to become.
The more you know about the school, the better case you make
The more you know about what a specific school (or person) offers, the better you can assess and express whether you are a match.
A school’s reputation– Is it the stud of the Ivies? is it the bad-ass of the state options?– can cloud you to its particulars.
So research thoroughly to have a sense of what is beneath the reputation, what substance there is that you can uncover with a little further digging, and write it all down.
For example, my husband seemed like a quiet Texan who loved to walk slowly. If I said, hey, I like men who don’t have to dominate conversations and take their time, I’d sort of be describing him. But only sort of.
Turned out, a little research showed he is also a ruthless but kind competitive athlete who makes stealth insightful commentary and only walked slowly to spend more time with me. I love these aspects of him. But they took a little digging to uncover.
Be specific in what you claim
The best piece of advice you can get on writing the supplements is to be as specific about yourself as possible, period, and line up those facts with specifics about the school, period.
Don’t waste time telling them they are awesome– show them that your profile and theirs fit together in XYZ clear way. And more than anything, tell them what YOU bring to the “relationship.”
When dating online, you have to be comprehensive in describing yourself. It’s not enough to say to your potential suitors, “I like music, and I see your earbuds sticking out of your pocket.”
No– you have to say, “I cook to Stevie Wonder, and cry with Opera, and walk with India Arie…” and then your potential match can say, “I put on Stevie when I feel stressed, I cry in pain if someone plays Opera…” and so on.
If you had to date your potential college, what would you need to tell it about yourself in your supplemental essay? And what would you need to know about it? Surely not just that lots of students want to go there, or that they have “stellar academics.”
Tell the Truth
If you BS a potential date about what you’re like, and that date BS’s you, who wins? Nobody.
If you BS in your supplement, even if the adcom reads it as truth, do you win if you get in?
No, because then you get into a relationship (with a school) based on wishful thinking or exaggeration, rather than reality, or on criteria that just don’t align with what you’re about.
And then you’re stuck, because you asked for it.
Also, BS is more noticeable to a keen reader than you’d think when you’re writing it. Can you sense its presence in statements like, “I’m tremendously glad to see your fantastic cafeteria photos which give off the air of studiousness, showing that academics are not limited to the classroom at your institution…”
Right. But you’re not applying to be in the cafeteria pic, or make a cameo on their website- you’re applying to be in a great relationship.
So spare yourself, spare your reader, and spearhead real dreams: aim your supplemental essays for the match that reflects your true interests, qualities, and hopes.
And say what they are, and why they should actually matter to your target school.
It’s a big world
When I was dating, I kept thinking, “Wow, there are so many people out there!” Guess what? There are so many schools too, each with their own winning qualities.
So keep looking until you find a handful of schools that just might work, and tell them why. Everyone likes to be told what their appeal is– no?
Honesty and self-knowing are seriously
sexy attractive to prospective colleges. Or that’s what my husband thinks.
And this is exactly how we will coach you to write all your college essays. And, if you really, really, really want us to give you dating advice, we’ll do it once your essays are all finished, specific and sincere.
Sorry, did you find this post for online dating advice only, and now you’re confused? Contact us-– we’ll be glad to refer you to experts.