Seniors, have you written your supplemental essays yet? If not, it’s time to get going. Before you start writing, here are a few things to consider. The supplemental questions colleges ask may sound simple, but answering well is harder than you think.
It’s easy to rattle off a bunch of truisms—much more challenging to say something fresh that will hold your reader’s interest. To do a good job, you need to get out of your own head and into the heads of the folks in the admissions office. Ask yourself: Why are they asking me this? What are they trying to find out?
The short answer is they’re trying to find out if you and the college are a good fit. Schools use various questions to determine this. I’ll describe two common ones below. But first bear in mind that different schools and different questions require different kinds of responses.
Will you be a high school junior this coming September? If so, you’re getting closer to the college search. Soon you’ll be visiting campuses, prepping for the SAT or ACT. You’ll also be pondering whether you should apply for early admission–the deadline is in November–or regular admission–the deadline is January 1.
Before things become too hectic, get an overview of what’s ahead. Here are some things to plan for.
Sign up for challenging classes
College admissions officials look for students who’ve consistently risen to the academic challenges offered them in high school. That means you should sign up for the most challenging classes you can handle. If your school offers honors classes or AP classes, take them. But if your school doesn’t offer such classes, don’t worry. You can find other ways to distinguish yourself.
Looking for a way to spend the summer that’s fun, interesting, maybe even challenging and also—you hope—impressive to colleges? If so, you’re on the right track, no matter whether you’re a freshman, sophomore or junior. You should be making plans right now, and I’ll offer a few suggestions. But, first, let me dispel some myths.
Despite what you may have heard, to impress colleges you do not need to do a fund-raising climb up Mt. Everest. Nor do you need to spend your summer in a small African village building huts for starving children. I’d go so far as advising you against these activities—unless you happen to live year-round in that small African village, in which case helping your neighbors might be an excellent plan.