Your Handy Guide to Writing a College Supplement Essay

Many BHS seniors are currently locked in the terrible throes of the “supplemental essay,” which are pieces of writing colleges ask you to complete in addition to the common app essay. Apparently they do this to see if we can write, but the questions tend to be uninspired. “Why do you want to attend Oxford?” and “What makes you a good candidate for our school?”

Whatever the prompt, follow this guide, and you should be fine come acceptance letter time.

  1. Always be sycophantic
  2. When copy and pasting, change all school names and specifics
  3. Review: read it through three times yourself, as many family and friends humanly possible
  4. Do not be afraid to write a few drafts and ask readers which they prefer
  5. This rule is for any piece of writing: NEVER look up every word you write in the thesaurus. You can get accepted into college without being Shakespeare
  6. Keep it appropriate. There are some topics to always avoid (drugs, sex, alcohol, politics) but just use your discretion. Write something you would be comfortable with Mr. Spence or your grandmother reading.
  7. Do not be wordy—using too many words to express an idea that could be made clear with fewer—or redundant just to reach a word count. The people at admissions would much appreciate it if you write concisely. Wordiness often leads to reader confusion and boredom.
  8. Do not settle. You know it can be better. This is not the time to be lazy. All the hard work will pay off so long, so go the extra mile. If not now, when?