Dealing with Supplemental Essays – Mediums to provide Additional Info
Getting into a college of interest can be quite a challenging task for any student. Today, every institution wants to secure the smartest and the most creative candidates because it boosts their reputation. They thus devise methods that enable them to put the spotlight on the best aspirants.
During the selection process, the committees generally ask a few questions which determine if a student is innovative enough to assess the depth of what’s being asked and answer accordingly. The response to such questions can be expected in the form of essays. Such essays are different from the “Personal Essays” that are meant to reflect a student’s personality. Usually, such supplemental essays can revolve around topics like “why this major,” “what’s the career you envision for yourself,” or even “tell us more about your background.” But mostly, institutions require students to write on the “why this college” supplemental essay.
If you’re applying for college this year, the supplemental essay is something you should pay keen attention to. And we’ve compiled this guide to help you understand better about it.
Let’s get started.
The “Why This College” Essay
The answer to this question revolves primarily around you. Such an essay is simply another version of a “why you” essay. The admission department wants to hear the right reasons for why they need you on their campus, what exactly you will contribute, and how you will benefit the college down the line.
This essay focuses just as much on you as the college. In our opinion, this essay is one where you should write positively only about that particular school or college. If there’s any sentence that can be applied to any other institution, we recommend you to simply eliminate it.
In essence, you need to write an essay full of reasons as to why you are the perfect fit for them. To start you off, we propose an idea that might help you find the ideal answer.
Start by drawing two columns on a sheet. On one side, you need to come up with cool stuff about yourself, and on the other, you can write the fantastic things about this institution that drew you towards it. Once you have both lists, all you need to do is check for the points where these columns overlap, and just like that, you’ll have the perfect answer!
Now, we get that coming up with specifics about the college can be a challenge, so below listed are a few pointers that you can consider while conducting your research:
- Keep a tab on the online student newspaper. It may have certain articles or events which may interest you.
- Connect with the professors you find interesting.
- The best pointers can be listed if you have visited the college. You can list the features that caught your eyes.
- Keep a check on the admission department’s social media accounts. This way you can be sure of mentioning a thing or two about something that they profiled recently.
- 9 out of 10 times, the website of most colleges lists exactly what they're looking for in their prospective students. Being up-to-date with the website can thus prove to be quite fruitful.
- Being incorporated with the in-house events can take you a long way, you can check out the campus activities to understand what you can contribute in any of them.
Pro tip: For any of your supplemental essays, except the “why this college” essay, we recommend you to reuse and recycle your content as much as possible. But be VERY sure to edit each essay according to what you think that particular institution may be interested in.
Many colleges tend to place more importance on supplementary essays than personal ones, thus making them crucial for your selection. So we recommend that you do not take them lightly and put your mind into creating them. These essays often target specific questions because they are undertaken to know whether a student has given a significant amount of time and thought about writing them.
The two key sections of the essay
The two main sections of the supplemental essay, i.e., the additional information section and the disciplinary action section, can convey a lot about you. They can be used to understand the personality of the student better.
The additional information section is just about right to play with the topics that you think may interest the admissions officer. This section can convey health information ranging from your mental condition to a severe illness or a death in your family.
On the other hand, the disciplinary action section is one wherein you discuss whether you ever faced suspension from your high school. Or that you were expelled or asked to leave the school. And even though adding this information may seem like something that may hurt your chances of being selected, we suggest you to write it in a way that makes it look like you’re looking for a second opportunity.
At the end of these sections, you should focus on how you had coped with the issue and what positive aspects they directed you towards. You can even mention the progress that you’ve made and how well you’ve been moving forward ever since. Be sure to make this essay draw light on the current situation and how it has helped you grow positively.
Additional Info — Lots of it
It’s not necessary that all the additional information you’re looking to share should be straight-up bad and hard conditions that you’ve been through. You might want to use this section to profile an EC for which you didn’t have the space to shed light on completely. Moreover, you can also talk about a certain quality of yours that you feel is relevant and something that the admission officer should know.
We basically mean that the additional information section is one where you should put any essential info that you feel should be considered before evaluating you as a potential student.
Here are some more points you should keep in mind:
- Supplementary essays are crucial and shouldn’t be passed on till the last moment.
- They play an important role in helping admission officers frame a character for you at the back of their mind.
- A “why this college” essay is essentially another way of portraying “why you.”
- Check and recheck the essay to be sure that you haven't jotted down any grossly wrong information, the incorrect college name, for instance!
- Use the additional section to convey any information that you think should be known to the officers.
Personal essays (more additional info)
A personal essay has to inform the institution as to who you are as a person. They have to be composed of all your hopes, expectations, dreams, and personality. This is an essay which brings the real you into the spotlight!
But how can you sum up your entire life up to this point in a personal essay? Well, this is where the additional info comes into the picture. This section provides you with the space to expand about the details of any activity that you might’ve done, and what its effects were. Moreover, mentioning personal aspects like family income, gender identity and mental health issues here can provide a more informative context for your application.
Writing down such experiences is relevant, especially if they’ve affected your application in any way. Colleges seek to know as much as they can about you, to see if you’ve dealt with any extreme conditions so that they can understand how these extremities have affected your application.
But bear in mind that the personal statement should be reserved for reflecting who you as a person are. The discussion of these challenges shouldn’t be the epicenter.
Your application should reflect how you’ve powered through any ill circumstances that have come your way up until this point in your life. It could be mental illness, substance abuse, family drama or any other reason. The important factor is that you dealt with something very wrong and still didn’t give up!
And that, my friend, is exactly the type of attitude you should take while talking about these events in your application. It would be best if you focused on the phoenix, rather than the ashes.
Much like the personal essay, you have to go ahead and present the very best in you to the evaluators in this section. While talking about difficult issues, you need to address them briefly without going too much in detail. And if there was any wrong done on your part, don’t be afraid to take responsibility for it and confidently own up to it.
Next, you need to talk about how you kept yourself afloat and how you dealt with the situation. You need to describe the whole experience and then sum it up with the important lessons you learned. You can also put in a few sentences that describe how you grew through the situation and how, if you get the chance, would you help someone facing the same problem.
It would be best if you showed them that although you had no control over the situation, you were still able to regain control of yourself. Be sure always to keep the positives and lessons you’ve learned from the experiences in life. In short, keep the essay 90% dedicated to the phoenix, and the rest 10% can be on the ashes.
If you’re comfortable with it, we recommend you to discuss your situation with the college counselor so that they can advocate for you. This can help you in gaining the confidence of the admission officers since they now know that you reached out for help due to your vulnerability. At the same time, it shows that since you took the counselor on a trip down memory lane to face your fears, you’re mature enough to deal with any ill conditions coming your way.
Talking more about the application
The additional information section is where any topic that you’d previously left out from a section can be incorporated. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about an issue that has led to your performance downfall. You’re free to write about your gender identity, family background, or quality of yours that you feel must be considered before evaluating you as a student.
You need to keep the essay positive and refrain from focusing more on its negative effects on you. You can rather shed light on how you got back up and came out more determined and stronger than ever.
Wrapping it up
An additional information section is a place where you can also elaborate on any activity of yours. You can explain a few points of a particular activity, discuss some different ones, or directly write an essay with the details of your involvement with the activity.
In short, this space is available for you to provide any content that they feel is relevant and which might help them form a better perception about you as an individual.
If you feel that writing about how you overcame a particular challenge will help in any way, we encourage you to do so in the additional info section, rather than the personal statement. Plus, these tips can help:
- Elaborate on your activities.
- Use this section to discuss the various aspects of your life.
- Use it to explain the major issues that led to any dips in your performance in the past.