Are you stressed as all hell about supplements?
Are you starting to get stiff in your language or overwhelmed by the sheer number of prompts, that all feel vaguely similar?
I'm here to give you a pep talk about the “Why This School?” essays that are most challenging for students to write well.
Are you starting to write supplemental essays that sound like: “The majestic campus enthralled me and I imagined myself walking down the path to the dining hall….”
GAH. Take a big step back.
3 things to remember that will help you avoid common pitfalls:
1) supplements are a dating game
2) go beyond 1-click research to authentic interest
3) don’t tell them what they already know
(OK, and four-- it’s OK to sound like you.)
These Tips Will IMMEDIATELY Make Your College Supplements Suck Less
The supplements are a dating game and you don’t have to treat them any differently.
You might be amazing, and the school might be amazing, but how does that help you be amazing together? It doesn’t. I’ve read so many “vanilla” supplements, with a lot of “right” words but no distinctive flavor about the individual applicant.
If you and this school are really committing to each other (which you are), then use the supplement as a chance to weave in your particular interests.
Tell them a little something you didn’t focus on elsewhere-- that you’ve been deconstructing family toasters since you were 3 and are interested in their engineering track.
Or maybe you spent all of middle school browsing the library and you’re interested in literacy classes.
Or maybe you grew up in a very small town and you’re so excited about their campus cultural initiatives. Make yourself an attractive person to date and commit to.
2. If you try to stack your supplements with “1-click” research, you look lazy.
Dig into their website! Take a virtual tour and come up with a list of questions. Notice specifics. What research are their professors doing? What is student life like? Go at least 3 clicks deep.
If you wanted to move into an apartment, you would NOT just go by the picture on the website and the bullet points. You’ll try to see what this place is like.
Research at least 3-clicks into their website, towards areas of actual interest. Take notes on what you see there that is actually attractive to you, and try to explain why.
3. Don’t tell them what they already know about themselves, tell them something you noticed or found.
Schools paid a lot of money for their website and marketing. They made things look nice. They know their trees are dope and their quad is beautiful or that they are in the middle of NYC.
Tell them instead what you figured out. Do you think you’ve discovered an opportunity to research with faculty analyzing Moon Cheese? Amazing.
Did you want to go deep into linguistic anthropology, and know that their faculty has top scholars in this field?
Do you know someone who played sports there, and the climate is right for scholar athletes?
Finally-- Don't try to "sound" a "type of way."
Trust me if you try to “sound” a type of way what your essay will sound like is BAD.
The supplements are still an important chance to have a voice, and present something actually interesting and meaningful to you.
If you are a curious person, this will be possible even at a school that is NOT at the top of your list.
Freewrite or bullet point your way somewhere genuine
Start by freewriting your actual thoughts about the points of interest at that school, and shape those. A general rule to include is:
- 1 academic thing
- 1 extracurricular thing
- 1 environmental thing
Because: whether or not you like the school the most, you might end up going there!
I can’t tell you the number of students I worked with for whom Ms. Absolutely Right School was a disappointment for some reason they couldn’t really have known in advance of attending.
OR, no matter how perfect a match you are, the numbers work against you.
Please seek out possible points of light in the dark of the school search. There are so many ways to move into your future.
Remix: Take-away strategies to get through the college essay supplements?
- Date the school, and invite them to date you. No flattery, though.
- Go beyond 1-click research.
- Don’t repeat what they already know.
- Say it like you mean it.
Help I am still in supplement overwhelm.
We understand. We got you. Sessions and pricing available here.
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