Do you want to apply to US universities? This is the start of our 5-part US college supplements series. This one will focus on the “Why College X” Essay!
I applied to 10 universities in the United States and wrote nearly 30 individual supplemental essays for them in total. After having applied to and receiving acceptances from several top US universities so far, I believe that I can share some of my experience about different types of college essays. I will also include example responses of supplemental essays that got me accepted into those colleges!
What are college supplements?
Supplemental essays are college-specific and are of varying length. They provide a chance for applicants to provide more information about themselves—why they chose the majors they did, why they chose the university, and even some fun personal information.
Why are they important?
Aside from the main 650-word common application essay (or personal statement), these supplements allow students to express more of an interest in the specific university they are applying to and to reveal other aspects of themselves that may not already have been mentioned.
Tips on how to write a “Why College X?” essay
This essay asks students to express why they want to attend the university. You have to demonstrate your fit in the university and describe specific examples of courses, extracurriculars, and professors you look forward to.
1. Do your research
Dig deep through the university website, visit in person or virtually, talk to current students and professors, watch videos of current students etc. Come up with a list of 3-5 things (depending on the length of your essay) that you want to be sure to hit on!
2. Don’t forget to talk about yourself!
Some people end up writing solely about the university—ranks, location etc. Not only are those pieces of information already well known by the admissions officers, but they are also likely to come up in numerous other applicant essays. My tip would be to start with a personal anecdote, and then segue into why the personality and values revealed by your anecdote make you a good fit for the university. Remember, this essay is asking why YOU fit in!
3. Be specific
Mention specific extracurriculars, majors, and minors that interest you and why. Make sure that every point you make is as specific to that particular university as possible. Instead of talking about how good a biology major is, talk specifically about why the course requirements of biology in that university (coupled with any interesting professor, capstone project, or study abroad program), will help you have a unique experience at this particular university.
4. Come up with a meaningful structure
This tip applies to all supplemental essays. The word count is limited, so come up with a clear structure beforehand. For example, your first paragraph could be an anecdote, your second paragraph could be about the academics of the university, and your last paragraph could be about the extracurricular scene. Whatever your structure is, make sure you hit on all the important points!
My personal experience
While writing this essay for the University of Michigan, I talked about a unique offering of the university—LLCs or living and learning communities. I spoke specifically about one called the “Residential College,” and how being a part of it would help me make a large university campus feel like a smaller and more tight-knit one.
“Within the LSA, I will consider joining the Residential College (RC). It offers the best of both worlds - a small, liberal arts college experience within the larger LSA community. I will take advantage of the close-knit community by engaging in coffee chats and office hours with my teachers and friends.”
Additionally, I also mentioned extracurricular groups I want to join and why.
“I want to sing at spontaneous college events with the ‘Harmonettes,’ and bond with other female singers on and off stage.”
Keep in mind that intentionally is very important. Your responses to these essays can serve the purpose of building your package in a particular area of study or adding variety and dimension to your essay. US college admissions are holistic! Your essays are not the sole factor that will determine your acceptance. Think of it as the cherry on top!
Check out the rest of the US College Application Supplements Series:
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