The Key to Great College Essay Supplements

Andy Wang
Andy Wang

Our collaborative team of content writers and researchers stay up-to-date on the latest news to help you ace your applications. We hope you enjoy the blog.

With most college essay applications, you will need to write something called “supplements.” Also known as supplemental essays, it is shorter form writing often required by schools to accompany the main application essay. What sets college essay supplements apart from the main essay? Well, supplements must be specifically catered to the college or university. Let’s discuss more.


The individualization means that applicants should be doing research on each of the specific schools. You don’t want your supplements to seem generic and like every other college essay application. When it comes to these supplements, applicants should make sure they’re specifically catered to show a genuine interest through their college application.

Research Evidence

One of the best ways to start a supplemental essay is to do research on the specific program itself. While this may seem very tedious, it shows an interest if you can allude to a specific program within the school that interests you. This genuine interest carries weight when read by an admission officer.

Stay Concise

One of the key characteristic elements that this adds to an essay is concise language. It removes a lot of the generic nature that plagues many college essay applications. Especially for applicants who have extremely long lists, supplemental essays can easily become copy paste versions of other supplements... Actually citing programs specifically catered to the college or the university, however, forces applicants to go back and specialize each essay. You must make changes to make it directly addressed to that one single school, instead of three different ones with similar programs. 

Test Yourself!

One common tip to prevent one’s supplements from becoming too generic? Play a modified version of mad-libs with one’s essay. For any supplement, remove all the proper nouns regarding the college (similar to how the actual game works). Next, the applicant should read through the modified essay; see if all the blanks are replaceable with any college or university. If the essay still flows very smoothly with any school, then the supplement is way too generic! You should seriously consider making some big edits. 

Summary: Great College Essay Supplements

Supplements are another tedious facet of college applications that every applicant has to run through. That being said, applicants must follow these few guidelines to make sure their supplements of are of acceptable quality:

  • Do research on each specific school to show a genuine interest in the school and its programs.
  • Make sure each supplement is specialized, and doesn’t sound like it could be used for a bunch of other schools.

Above all else, supplements are another way to tell a story on a college essay application, to further impress admission officers. Taking advantage of the opportunity is what separates a good student with a mediocre application, from a good student with an outstanding application. You want to have an outstanding application! Don’t take any chances.

Questions? Let us know!