This is the 23rd post of 30 Days to Freedom: How to Write College Admissions Essays That Work. To access earlier posts, click here.
Most students totally miss the opportunity to connect with colleges in their supplement essays. Supplement essays are your best chance to demonstrate what admissions officers call your “fit” for a specific college, so give them your best energy.
How can you authentically answer questions like “Why do you want to attend this college?” for each college on your list?
First of all, for the time that you are answering each college’s supplements, think of that college as the only one you are applying to. Go even further: imagine you are really attending that college, research classes and extracurriculars. Go ahead and phone a friend who already attends that college, or chat with one of the students on the college’s web site. Dive in and ask yourself:
- What classes will you take?
- Which courses and interdisciplinary programs excite you?
- Where will you hang out when you’re not in class?
- In which clubs will you take on a leadership role?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to do that you can only do at that college?
What are the most powerful connections between your past experiences and what you see yourself taking on at that particular college? Depending on the question, tell a story that helps you to answer the particular question the college is asking.
Try this example: The University of Rochester asks you to describe a moment that embodies their motto, Meliora, “ever better.” Take some time to brainstorm what “ever better” means to you. Is it the time you were about to give up but kept going? A time when you surpassed your previous limit? Is it something about the community becoming better through something you made happen? Writing down all your ideas as you brainstorm will help to open up your memories and creativity not just to the definition, but also to moments that reveal what you have done that embodies the motto “ever better.” Those are the connections you are looking for: stories that show your idea of “ever better” in action and in life.
If the question is “What major” or “What program of study” the steps are the same: do a deep dive into that particular major at that particular school, paying close attention to interdisciplinary programs that connect the major with exciting research and other unique opportunities at that school. Then find the genuine connections between what you want to study in college and work you have already done.
Remember: you can’t make up genuine connections! You need to take the time to get to know each college you are applying to–in as much depth as you possibly can–and write your essays about yourself, but with a strong sense of which college you are talking to when you complete that college’s supplements.
Tomorrow: how to respond to supplements that ask about you—your influences, community, your passions and activities.
Sign up for ouremail reminders, and get the day’s steps (and other great resources) delivered right to your inbox!
Check out these popular resources:
Questions? You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, find us on Facebook, or tweet us @storytocollege with hashtag #essayfreedom.
Carol Barash, PhD, founder and CEO of Story To College and author of Write Out Loud, has taught over 10,000 students–from first-generation college students to the children of bankers and CEOs–and teachers from around the world how to tell their stories and write essays that win admission and scholarships at their top choice colleges.
Topic: "People attend college or university for many different reasons (for example, new experiences, career preparation, increased knowledge). Why do you think people attend college or university? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer."
For people who have already finished high school, one of the choices they will have to make is whether to continue to higher education, which means going to college or university, or to start working and planning their life right away. Different people will have different choices of their own, but for me, I think there are two main reasons why we should attend college or university.
The first thing that perhaps anyone would think about going to college is to get a higher level of education. We may have studied and learned a lot at school, but that’s just the general knowledge that anyone should have. If we want to acquire an increased knowledge, especially the professional knowledge for a particular job or a specialist field of work, university and college would be the most appropriate place. Of course, going to college is just an option, besides that there are many ways to prepare for your future career. For instance, for some reason, namely financial problems, some people can’t attend college but they can still study by other means while they’re working. Still, I think we’ll get the best and proper training and education at college.
Another good reason for going to college is that you can get practical and valuable experiences while studying at college. Going to college is so much different from high school; it’s just like living in a new environment. Everyone is grown-up here, and you’ll also have to learn to act like a grown-up yourself, learn to adapt and take responsibility for everything you do. For many students, since they live in the dormitory, away from their home and family, college will be the new home where they’ll have an independent life. So, this is also where they’ll get to know new people, experience new things and prepare for the life in the future. So, besides the knowledge, it’s also important to prepare and learn what it’s like living in the real world. And the phase during which you’ll spend your life at college can really help you a lot.
Apart from the two reasons above, I think people will find themselves many other good reasons why they should attend college or university. Although it’s not always easy to get through the gate of college or university, the benefit is so obvious and you’ll have an advantage, a really good start in your career with all the knowledge, the experiences and a university or college degree. So if you have a chance, you should really consider entering university or college.