Conquer Supplement Essay: Show Colleges You are a Great Fit

Each college asks its own supplement questions, and they read your answers to see whether you will be a good fit for their unique programs and community.

Here are tips to master the 3 most common types of supplements and connect with your top-choice colleges:

Why Do You Want to Attend This College?

You could say this is the most important question of all. Take the time to get to know each college:

  • What courses will you take?
  • What activities will you lead?
  • How will you make a difference?

Connect the things you want to do at that college with activities you’ve already done. For example:

“My main extracurricular at Milton High was leading the environmental team, a group of 20 students who follow global environmental news and take action in our school community. I am drawn to Clark’s One World Environment Club and the current engagement around climate change.”

student write an essay

Describe an issue that is important to you

While students often prefer to write application essays that are driven by ideas, college admissions officers warm to essays that come from your heart. So let’s say human rights is a passion of yours, and an issue around which you have taken action and made a difference.

  • Where did that commitment come from?
  • Did something happen to you or someone you know?

It’s usually stronger to anchor this type of essay in your own experience—both the ways that the issue came to be important to you, and what you have done as a result.

Remember: You show the issue matters by taking action. So pick an issue where you have done something, not just something you think about and might do later.

College X is committed to building a diverse community. What do you bring to the diversity of our community?

Take time to think beyond the obvious on this one, and be careful to avoid superficial labels—about yourself or anyone else.

  • What does community mean to you?
  • What do you uniquely bring to your campus community?
  • Are there moments that reveal your beliefs about community?
  • Is there work you have done to build community?
  • What type of community will you engender in college?

Remember, the Common Application and supplement essays you send to each college are a story about you—who you have been in the past, and especially who you are going to be in the future.

Take the time to get to know each college you are applying to, and show them with specific details that your past experience makes you a great fit for their community.