Most students will save the supplemental essay as the very last thing they do on their application. (Granted if you are reading this and applying for November 1st deadlines, you are way beyond last minute!) But the supplemental essay is important. Some would say it is as important as the personal statement. Admission officers definitely raise an eyebrow when they read an excellent personal statement and then a less than mediocre supplemental essay. When I read applications, I always combined the personal statement and supplemental essay statement score. So at some schools, writing a less than stellar supplemental essay can really hurt your essay points.
I have read thousands of supplemental essays, so here are my top three tips for making sure you supplemental essay helps your application.
Don’t wait until the last minute!
One year I had a student who put in the supplemental essay section that it was 11:59PM the night before the application deadline so he did not have time to write a supplemental essay. Needless to say, this is not what admission officers are looking for! Submitting all of your materials on time is ideal, however, it is better to mail or email your supplemental essay to the admission office within a few days of the deadline than it is to submit nothing at all. Most colleges will take the time to match it up with the rest of your application and the application reader will not know you were a few days late.
If you find a mistake after you sent it, don’t panic!
Again it is perfectly fine to email an updated copy of you essay to the college you are applying to and ask them to add to your file.
Answer the question!
One of the most frustrating things about reading supplemental essays is that students often do not answer the question! Most colleges want to know why you are interested in attending, so tell them! Write about specific things that have attracted you to the school. Go beyond the beautiful campus and great food in the dining hall. Talk about a professor you researched on-line and can’t wait to take a class from. If you are playing a sport, talk about your impressions of the coach and the team. Find out about the programs the student government organizes then talk about how you can’t wait to organize a specific event next year. Really envision yourself as a student at the school and then tell the admissions officer what you think that would be like.
Supplemental essays are supposed to be the “fun” part of your application. So, take it seriously, but it might be a good thing to focus on when you need to remind yourself why you are excited about attending college in the first place!