Back to Blog

Friendly Advice from Admissions Officers About Those “Extra” Essays

three students climbing stairs toward college building

The project of addressing college-specific essay prompts can feel daunting, but your responses really are a great opportunity to share more of your story with admissions officers. In the spirit of sharing, here are some of our favorite resources:

  • If you read only one article about supplement essays, make it this pithy and sensible one from University of Richmond Admissions. We especially like what they say about sharing your story (tips 4 and 5).
  • Yale’s excellent “Inside the Admissions Office” podcast devoted an episode to college-specific essays. It’s fascinating to hear three admissions officers discuss why they ask these additional questions (hint: it’s not to annoy applicants). As one says, “We want to provide as many chances as we can for the student to help us meet them.” We think students applying to any college that has supplemental essays will find listening to be a reassuring and informative use of 27 minutes.
  • Tulane University’s Director of Admissions has great advice about the “Why College X”? Statement, aka the most-common supplement question. Answering the question is optional at Tulane, but his points and suggestions apply broadly.
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling restricting the use of “race-conscious admissions” has had an effect on the supplement essay prompts this year. An article from the Brown Daily Herald includes discussion of their new prompt, the intent behind it, and the many ways students can respond effectively. 

The Supplements Launch is our strategic program for the college applicant who is ready to identify topics for college-specific essays and to begin drafting. We also work with students on supplement essays through Draft Feedback Sessions and E-Feedback.

Contact us Request Fees

Related Posts

Fall College-App Essay Support

Every fall, we hear from parents who tell us that — despite everyone’s best intentions — their senior didn't write a college-application essay during summer vacation. Or maybe they did, but ... it could use some work!

Read More
Following the Details Home

I asked her to draw a map. This is something I do sometimes when a student tells me they have nothing to write about. I have them draw their hometown or a place they know well. I have them sketch landmarks and points of interest. No detail is too small. At this early stage in the writing process, our work is to deal with self-doubt by gathering possibilities.

Read More
Writing as a “Math Person”

The lights of the theater dimmed and all I could think was, "Is this really a good idea?" From a young age, I’d believed I was destined for a different kind of performance. But here I was, at age twenty-seven, backstage at Improv Boston, about to perform a sketch comedy show. Three years later, I would quit my electrical engineering job to pursue writing and teaching full time.

Read More