Expert Advice on Writing Those Supplemental Essays

Hopefully, you've gotten a head start on writing your Common App main essay over the summer, and you're focusing more on your supplemental essays now. But whatever your situation, the first step should be organization. If College Essay Organizer is supplied by your school, then you're all set there! It will display all of your essay questions in one place instantly showing how the topics overlap, a step recommended by former Dean of Admissions at Columbia and Harvard turned admissions consultant in this post.

Other important tips shared focus around how you, one of the thousands of applicants, can stand out, especially in the supplemental essays which normally center around why you want to go to a particular school. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Think outside the box: Find a creative way to present your case that breaks the monotony of an admissions counselor's job.
  2. Pinpoint your most unique qualities: Highlight something about you and your goals that are different than everyone else's.
  3. Create a narrative: A good story will grab a counselor's attention and be more memorable.
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University of Georgia Requires Essays for All Applicants

University of Georgia's early applicants always had a great incentive to apply early — no essays to write! This year, things have changed, and ALL first-year applicants must write two required essays whether they apply through the Coalition App or UGa's School App. This is in line with the ever growing importance of college essays in the decision process. How to deal with this shift? University of Georgia's first required essay question frames it perfectly:

The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself that you have not already shared in your application.

Keep smiling and finding the humor in all of this. It will definitely get you through the rough patches!

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Yale's 2017-2018 Essay Questions Have Been Released

After days of waiting, the Common App has finally released Yale's essay questions for the 2017-2018 season. As we can expect from more competitive schools, the wording of the essay questions has changed, though the spirit remains the same.

However, what we can't expect from a top-caliber school which demands total excellence from the less than 7% of applicants lucky enough to receive an acceptance letter, is a mistake on the application! We don't know how it slipped through Yale's gilded fingers, but the proof is below in this screenshot. So for all those who have experienced a college rejection letter (or will in the future), let it be a comfort to know that even Yale is not perfect!

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Check Out University of Chicago's Essay Questions for 2017-2018 Season

While there are many unknowns in the college application process, especially in regards to essay questions, one thing that is predictable is that the University of Chicago will release intriguing essay questions! This year the tradition continues, and students will not be disappointed in their options. Even if you're not applying to college, take a moment to decide which topic you would choose, and consider writing it. It just may lead to an 'Aha' moment...

Essay Option 1.
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert

Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure ‘victory’ in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but under-discussed?

-Anonymous Suggestion

Essay Option 2.
Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here:

-Inspired by Josh Kaufman, Class of 2018

Essay Option 3.
Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart! Captain Planet supposes that the world is made up of these five elements. We’re familiar with the previously-noted set and with actual elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but select and explain another small group of things (say, under five) that you believe compose our world.

-Inspired by Dani Plung, Class of 2017

Essay Option 4.
The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham once said "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization." Tell us about your “armor.”

-Inspired by Adam Berger, Class of 2020

Essay Option 5.
Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections.

-Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021

Essay Option 6.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

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Didn't get in early? Or just procrastinating? Here's how you finish up strong!

timeWhile we hope you got in early, if you didn't, you're not alone. More than 70% of applicants who apply early don't get in and many students wait until the last minute. But you can still submit winning applications that get you accepted! For tips, check out this webcast with Dan Stern, founder of College Essay Organizer. It will help you rock the essays for the rest of your schools.

To finish quickly and get accepted, remember that 97% of students who upgrade to our Essay RoadMap finish faster and significantly increase their admissions chances.

Just login here, and enter promo code finish2016 by December 31 for 25% off.

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What to do if You're Deferred

deferAs early application notifications head your way, you may be undergoing some anxious moments. If things don't go your way, remember to keep breathing! It may be helpful to take a moment to reflect on your options moving forward, knowing that ultimately you will wind up at the right place, and that college is more about what you make it than where you go.

If you do get a deferral, you should still continue applying to additional colleges, but there are a few steps you can take that could increase your chances of getting in. This Common App article highlights some important points:

  • A deferral means that you are still in the running along with other regular applicants, and you are no longer bound to accept an offer of admission.
  • Take your time before communicating with the college to ensure that you can calmly express yourself without sending the wrong message.
  • Research what the school recommends you do and don't do. Usually there are some specific steps you can take to let a school know you are still highly interested such as sending along a commitment letter after some time has elapsed.
  • Find out how many deferred applicants have been admitted in past years so that you have a better idea of what to expect.
  • Inquire if taking an additional round of standardized testing would be possible or helpful.
  • Don't blame yourself or your application. Instead, focus on your remaining applications, schoolwork, and relaxing with friends and family as much as possible as you bring in the new year.


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Will You Receive Your College Acceptance Via Snapchat?

wisconsinAs you anxiously await your early admission letters, you have yet another place to look for them! While notifications have largely moved online speeding up the process and allowing for students to be notified at the identical time, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is taking this to a new level.

According to this U. S. News article, the school shared its good news by delivering a photo message via Snapchat since the school knows that much of students' free time is spent on the app. While accepted students still receive a congratulatory email and welcome packet in the mail, this will further speed up delivery, and excited students often respond with a selfie.

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Harvard Student Shares Tips on Writing the College Essay

harvardWriting college essays is definitely the most anxiety-provoking part about applying to college, mainly because so much weight is placed on essays when applying to competitive schools. In fact, colleges often use essays to distinguish students with similar test scores and GPAs. Halie Olson, a senior at Harvard College, shares tips for writing a great college essay that will help you stand out from other applicants:

  1. Just start writing. Sometimes just getting something on the page is the best first step.
  2. Starting over can be the best strategy. When the first attempt doesn't feel right, starting with a new topic can be the way to go.
  3. Ask others to read over your work. An outside perspective is so important to make sure you're on the right track.
  4. Expect multiple drafts. Editing is such an important part of creating a stellar essay.

For the full article, click here.

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November is the busiest time of the year for college essays

ieca_new-orleans-logo-medWhile we won't see you in New Orleans this IECA Conference (we'll be there in the spring), we wanted to let you know that we're thinking of you -- especially since November is the busiest month for college essays now that students are turning from their early applications to all their regular applications.

Email us at [email protected] or call us at 646-448-4927 with any questions at all. And be sure to stop by our partner CollegePlannerPro for more info on how you can access College Essay Organizer through CPP.

In case you haven't checked us out this season, our newest upgrades include:

  • Use our new master account interface through CollegePlannerPro so you can access all your clients' essay reports and alerts on one page, getting a snapshot of everyone's status
  • Set up alerts to be emailed to any counselor you want so students can edit drafts with whomever
  • Track alerts more easily with student and counselor names visible in email subject lines
  • Customize each student's RoadMap with more essay topic options so that you control all writing plans
  • Remove schools on your own from a student's RoadMap so you don't need to look at dropped colleges anymore
  • Keep track of tasks and notes for each student with our new To Do List and Scratchpad features
    Our team of dedicated researchers is extremely proud to have provided you with another season of 100% error-free college essay experience!
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Strengthen Your Admissions Odds Without Extra Effort

More applications doesn't always mean more essays!

More applications doesn't always mean more essays!

As early deadlines approach, students across the country are scrambling to complete their applications. Of course, filling out the application form is not the most stressful and time-consuming part -- it's the shear number of essays that universally make students cringe (just log into your College Essay Organizer account to see what we mean). Just the thought of trying to create stand-out essays when competing with thousands of students with similar numbers is understandably nerve-wracking!

The silver lining to this is that you probably already have your main Common App essay complete (email us at [email protected] if you need any last minute assistance), and while you may be trying to nail down those supplemental essays, adding another couple schools that require no additional essays in addition to the main essay might make perfect sense! It may even allow you to exhale, knowing you have increased your admissions odds. Here's a list of some of the schools that fall into that category:

Middlebury College
University of Denver
State University of New York at Binghamton
Colby College
Connecticut College
Bentley University
West Virginia University
Grinnell College
Gettysburg College
State University of New York at Albany
Florida Southern College
Florida Institute of Technology
Kean University
University of Dayton
Bowling Green State University
Sacred Heart University
University of North Carolina-Asheville

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