How to Write A Supplemental Essay for College Application

At the mention of writing a supplemental essay, most students go into panic mode. Most students might not have heard of a supplemental essay before, and they end up believing it is so hard to write. What If I told you writing a supplemental essay is pretty simple? You only have to understand a few major principles of writing it. In this article, we walk you step by step on how to write a supplemental essay. Read on

What is a supplemental essay?

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Apart from your overall score, high school courses, and other admission requirements, colleges will require you to write a supplemental essay as part of the college essay. Supplemental essays are the extra pieces of work required that are attached beside the personal statement when applying for college admission. The main purpose of a supplemental essay is to enable the admission panel to gauge your dedication and interest in joining a particular university.

Although most schools require you to write a common essay, some institutions might require you to write their specific essays. This own school-specific essay is known as a supplemental essay. Nonetheless, these writing supplements essays might be shorter than the main college essay, this does not imply that they are less important.

A supplemental essay can be in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some colleges and universities ask for one supplemental essay, while others ask for several. Other schools might give four to seven essay options, and you will have to choose one.

The most common essay prompt you will come across is when you are asked to expound on your favorite activity or explain any ideas that you think will reshape or change the society you live in.

Supplemental essay format

It is imperative to note that the essay formats are subject to change each year. So, make sure you confirm with the college what is expected in the year of application. Always check out for the latest required supplemental essay format.

Supplemental Prompts are designed to explore every version of yourself. These prompts give you a chance to explain multiple sides of yourself.

In an institution like Brown University, the prompt requires explaining how joining the university will help advance your academic knowledge.  You will be required to explain how you plan on interacting with your peers while in college.

You will be required to present the co-curricular activities you will engage in and how you intend on improving the broader community at Brown University. If you are joining another university, be sure to confirm what they need in supplemental essay formats.

Good personal statement

For your supplemental essay to serve its purpose, you need to have a great personal statement. A personal statement requires you to write more about yourself while applying for college or university or sometimes applying for a scholarship. Your academic paper doesn’t explain who you are. That is when a personal statement comes in handy.

 Why do you need to write a personal statement?

If you are applying for college, your statement should:

Give a vivid description of who you are. Through your essay, the college should understand who you are and what you will bring to the table. So instead of giving a list of your achievements, write your story that captures what you will be bringing to the table.

Make sure the personal statement complements other parts of your application. It should sound natural and expressed by the same individual. Your personal statement, application letter, documents, supplemental essay, and other short answers should speak one language. The language of who you really are.

But that does not mean that you have to be all repetitive in writing your personal statement. Be creative and consciously play around with your words.

Topics to write about in your personal statement

When writing a good personal statement, it is hard to know where to start from. Most colleges have

their college-specific personal statement prompts. nonetheless, the majority of students apply using the

Common App. the Common App offers the following topics

Discussing an event, achievement, or idea that parked moments of personal growth or opened your minding to a new way of understanding g yourself or someone else around you

You might be required to share an essay about any topic.  You could choose from one of the prompts or submit one essay you had written before. If you believe you are super talented, from a unique background, identity, or interest, then it is your time to shine.  Share your amazing story.

Write about a time when you were questioning a concept, idea, or belief. What was the outcome? Did you change your perception, or did you stick to your original stand?

Write about an obstacle you have endured in your life. How did you overcome it? How did it change your thinking?

How did it change your life today? What did you learn from facing the obstacle?

Share about a concept, idea, belief, or topic you find so interesting? What makes it so interesting to you? What do you want to learn about the topic? Where can you find more knowledge about the topic?

Describe a problem that you are interested in solving. Why are you interested in solving it? What is the significance of solving this particular problem? What makes you think you are capable of writing this certain problem.

Tips for writing a supplemental essay

Supplemental essay prompts in most colleges and universities, including Indiana University, Boston University, University of Southern California, are already available. Here are the tips for writing an outstanding supplemental essay.

Start planning for your supplemental essay enough

As a student, you should always note down the type of supplemental essays required by the colleges and note it down. As you note down the type of these essays, also include their specific requirements like the quantity of the supplemental essays and the word count of each of them.

Some students devote a lot of time writing their personal statements leaving little rest time or a few hours to the deadline to write the supplemental essay, which is not okay.

You should create a timeline for writing both the main college essay and the supplemental essay. And if it is possible, begin working on your supplemental essay immediately after you are done with writing the main college essay.

Find out more about the requirements of the supplemental essay in the common app in your college of choice and begin planning early enough. Alternatively, you can check the respective colleges”’ websites to find out the instructions on the supplemental essay

Read and understand the supplemental essay prompt

Although this might sound obvious, students should carefully read and understand what the essay prompts require them to answer before writing.

If you don’t understand the essay, you might not understand what you are asked to do. And end up lowering your chances of being into the college of your choice.

Recycling essays write for other institutions might not work since supplemental essays tend to be more specific.

First, figure out what they want to know about you in the supplemental essay prompts. Does the admission board want to know about your areas of interest? Maybe your leadership qualities? Your passion?  Why are you interested in the particular college? If the questions asked you to talk about a specific program, answer only about the specific program and not about the college as a whole. Find out what they want to know and answer that question in your supplemental essay.

Talk about yourself

The main purpose of a supplemental essay is to enable college admissions to know more about you. For that reason, you have to write about yourself. You have to write about the positive information about yourself that will make the college want you.

Create an outline

Having an essay outline also works with supplemental essays. Although each student might have their own essay writing process, you should try it out, beginning with an outline. Brainstorm on the key qualities, skills, achievements, and experiences you will like to include in your supplemental essay.

Avoid repetition

In the supplemental essay, you are supposed to show the admission how you are the perfect fit for their institution. However, this does not mean that you have to repeat yourself all over, from the personal statement to the supplemental essay.

So, make sure you do not include what you have talked about in the main college essay in your supplemental essay. However, you can mention some of the things you stated in your main college essay. But make sure the supplemental essay mentions something new about yourself.

Be straight to the point

Most supplemental essays have a strict word limit, and you have to sell yourself in that particular word limit. If the required word count is 50 words, you have to ensure that each word has a meaning in your supplemental essay. Cut out the fluff. Do not be afraid of testing and fixing new words in your sentence until they fit in.

You also have to be as specific as possible even though you are working on a limited word count.

In your supplemental essay, you can discuss

The specific reasons why you are applying to the particular college

Write about a challenge you have endured in your life. How did you overcome it? How did it change your thinking? How did it change your life today? What did you learn from facing the challenge?

Share about a concept, idea, belief, or topic you find so interesting? What makes it so interesting to you? What do you want to learn about the concept? Where can you find more knowledge about the concept?

Describe a problem that you are interested in solving. Why are you interested in solving it? What is the significance of solving this particular problem? What makes you think you are capable of writing this certain problem

Research, research, research

When writing a supplemental essay, you have to know what you are writing about. The best way you can know this is through research. Write like you know the college you are applying for? Mention their specific courses and programs and also their motto.

As you mention, these specific features about these colleges tie them with your goals and interests. Paint a picture of how you and the college are a perfect match. Also, knowing what the college is looking for from their new applicants goes a long way to help you write the perfect supplemental essay.

After proper research, you should include specific detail from the college you are applying to.

This includes:

–  The name of programs offered

– The research opportunities

– The specific majors and the requirements

-The actual names of established professors in the school

Choose unique topics

Although most college applicants are not aware of this, you should pick supplemental essay topics you haven’t discussed anywhere in your entire application process.

Think about the entire application process. The main college essays. The personal statement. Think about your abilities, goals, and interests. What have you not included in your essay? What else do you want the college admission to know about you that will put you in a better place to land you a college admission?

If you are unsure of what else to write about in the supplemental essay, you can consider the following.

A meaningful activity or hobby

Personal challenges

Beliefs and Values

Your unique personality

Your interests and passion

What makes you curious

A particular volunteering or work experience

Recycle wherever necessary

In some situations, you can recycle some supplemental essays from other colleges. It is, however, imperative to be careful when recycling these supplemental essays.

In most cases, colleges will require to write about a particular activity or experience in 150 words to 250 words. Or maybe write about your work or life experience. Again, some colleges won’t restrict you from using parts of other essay responses you have submitted.

But this does not mean that you have to copy and paste the supplemental essay. You can use the same sentence structure, some words, and even a template to create a unique supplemental essay.

You can also follow the same supplemental essay format used in other applications. As you recycle, make sure you tailor your supplemental essay to match your interests and the expectations of the college admission.

Types of supplemental essays

Most students struggle with writing supplemental assignments. Some of them don’t even know the type of assignments they are writing. There is no doubt that trying to write what you don’t know is challenging.

But imagine if you knew all the types of supplemental essays. You will deliver precisely what the college admission is expecting and capitalize on the chances of getting admission to a college of your choice.

Keep on reading to find out the several types of supplemental essays.

What are you reading, or what are you watching?

This is a common type of supplemental essay prompt. In this type of supplemental essay, you might be asked questions like what is your favorite artiste, song, TV show, or album?

Tip: Don t try to act cool by talking about common books that you think will make the admission board like you. First, consider the word count. If it is 50 words, get ready to answer the essay in the desired word count. Be honest with your answers. The admission board wants to know about your personality and interests.  So only list things you genuinely like.

Why our school

Another supplemental essay you might come across is ”WHY US”. The admission wants to know why you specifically choose their institution and not other schools. This is basically the school asking you to explain why you specifically applied to that specific program in their school. You have to describe the unique qualities that prompted you to select that specific school.

Tip: Read carefully and understand the question. Your answer has to be tailored to the specific equation asked. If you have been asked about a specific problem, make sure to talk about that in your essay. If you have been asked to talk about the school in general, then do so.

After expressing why, you choose their institution, explain how their school is the perfect match. Explain, their values fit into your interests and passion. Sell yourself. Talk about something unique you will be bringing to the institution.

Community problems and solving of global problems

The world has a lot of issues and a few problem solvers. College admission boards might also ask you about this kind of essay. The supplemental essay is designed to assess your skills in solving societal and world problems. They want to know how you can work together with others as a community towards solving problems.

Tip:  When answering this prompt, you have to be specific enough.  You have to talk about your personal experience. Talk about how you perfectly participated in a community program. You can explain how you took part in the campaign against global issues such as racism, global warming, and human trafficking.

Be specific. Talk about your personal experience and your interests. Also, explain how you plan to use the skills you acquired while taking part in these activities.

Cocurricular activities and academic interests

Another type of supplemental essay you are likely to encounter is about extracurricular activities and academic interests. With this type of essay, you will be required to go into more detail about your interests and the co-curricular activities you have participated in.

For instance, for Princeton University, you will be asked to explain some of the meaningful co-curricular activities you have participated in.

Tip: Go straight to the point.  Most of the time, the essay is usually around 150 words, so you have to be as precise as possible. Ensure you articulate your character in these 150 words. Do not be repetitive.

If you have talked about one sport in your resume, you don’t have to talk about the same sport again. Choose another activity to talk about. Make your essay exciting and describe everything vividly—paint striking features in the admission board members’ minds.

Leadership role

Leadership qualities are desired in almost every field today. For instance, a prompt from the University of California requires you to talk about the leadership roles you have participated in. How to effectively lead the group in a positive direction. Your ability to solve disputes and how you influenced others positively.

Tip: You have to describe the kind of leadership you exhibit. Explain an event where you exercised or proved your leadership qualities. Focus on a particular event? Explain the events turned out until you stepped in and put things back on track. Explain the actual thing you did and the effects of your action after that.

Avoid being too general, be specific. Be interesting. Give a vivid description of how the event turned out. And as you give your description, let your leadership skills shine through. Be interesting. Be memorable, and you will land yourself a university admission at your university of choice.


This supplemental essay prompt asks about the diversity of students and how they are willing to contribute to a diverse community in college. Most students find this essay challenging since it is about writing to other people and not about you.

Although most people think of ethnicity and race whenever diversity is mentioned. Diversity goes way further. Diversity is about the socio-economic, nationality religious identity, among others. So, make sure you have highlighted all these areas of diversity when writing a diversity supplemental essay prompt.

The bottom line

At this moment, you now understand how to write an exceptional supplemental essay prompt. You already know the several types of supplemental essays you might be asked to write.  However, keep in mind that supplemental essays are subject to change depending on the institution.

You might not be asked to write about the exact essays listed above, but this guide will come in handy. Writing a good supplemental essay is the big difference between an acceptance into university and a rejection. At topwriters4me, we have helped many students secure admission into university by writing their supplemental essays. Do you need help with your supplemental essay? Contact us today.



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