Updated: Oct 11, 2022
While some universities will ask you to complete one supplemental essay, other schools will require you to write multiple essays.
The length varies from one prompt to another, but the purpose is the same -to give admission officers a better idea of who you are as a person, what drives you, and what you aspire to achieve through your post-secondary education.
So, consider these winning tips to make writing your university supplemental essays a breeze.
No.1: Start with a clear outline
Every student has their own writing process. With that said, mapping out how you intend to answer the prompt is highly recommended. This will help you brainstorm all the qualities, skills, and experiences relevant to the question that you would like to convey to admission officers.
No.2: Avoid repeating yourself:
Supplemental essays are an opportunity to provide the admission committee with more information on who you are. This is what will help them determine whether you’d be a good fit for their school. So, make sure you don’t reiterate something that’s already been covered in your main essay.
No.3: No essays are optional
Even if the university states that an essay prompt is optional, take it as mandatory.
No.4: Stay within the word count
Many universities won’t allow you to submit an essay that is over the maximum word count so keep that in mind.
No.5: Narrow your focus
Choosing a topic that is too big to cover in a limited number of words or characters is a mistake that many students make. There are some issues that are simply impossible to settle in just one or two paragraphs. So, it’s much better to narrow your focus and do it well than to opt for something big and barely scratch the surface.
No.6: Maintain your authenticity
Input from a teacher, parent, or supervisor can help you perfect your essays but it’s important that you maintain the authenticity and uniqueness of your voice in your writing.
University Supplemental Essay Prompts
Tell us about who you are. How would your family, friends, and/or members of your community describe you? If possible, please include something about yourself that you are most proud of and why.
You can answer this prompt by reflecting on a specific aspect of your personality, a hobby, or an experience that is both purposeful and unique to you. You want admission officers to connect with you on a more personal level, and an honest and authentic statement is what will draw them in.
The second part of this prompt is an invitation to highlight your social skills in addition to the traits that define you as a person. The admission office wants to know how your friends, family, and community members perceive you. This will give them a better perspective of who you are and what it is like to be around you. It also shines a light on the character and traits you will be bringing into the university.
Including something about yourself that you are most proud of also demonstrates your values, work ethic, perseverance, and determination. This, in turn, will translate into how good of a fit you will be in the university environment and culture.
Having a clearer picture of who you are puts the admission officers in a more well-suited position to make the right judgment about your application.
What is important to you? Why?
This prompt is your chance to write about something you truly care about.
Universities are looking for curious and creative students who are also thoughtful about their community and the world they live in.
So, avoid the pitfall of trying to impress admission representatives with what you believe they want to hear versus what is important to you. The WHY is not an afterthought but rather the key piece of this prompt so make sure you explain what pushes you to pursue your interests and the values you hold as well.
Tell us more about one or two activities listed above that are most important to you. Please explain the role you played and what you learned in the process. You will be asked for a reference who can speak to your response.
Out of all the activities you have listed, this prompt invites you to talk about one or two that you deem the most important to you. This could be something very personal that has a strong purpose behind it or a passion project that you have managed to turn into an exceptional achievement. Ideally, your activities should demonstrate your leadership potential and your ability to successfully manage a set of responsibilities.
You can also choose to go the challenge-based way with a narrative answer that describes how you solved a problem by either drawing on the knowledge you’d acquired somewhere else, learning something new, or relying on one of your character traits (inspiring, visionary, mediator, etc.) to remedy the issue at hand.
In this prompt, you should also highlight what you learned in the process of fulfilling your role and what impact that experience has had on you (skills gained and lessons learned).
This is your last chance to make a lasting impression on admission officers, so although this prompt is optional, use it to complement your application and highlight aspects of yourself that you didn’t have the opportunity to address before.
You can use this prompt to talk about an example of learning from an obstacle, standing up for your beliefs, an event that shaped you into who you are, a person you admire, or even why you want to attend that university and how it will help you achieve the vision you have of the future.
Want help with your university supplemental essays? Sign up for our students’ coaching program for step-by-step guidance throughout your university application process and learn to craft winning essays that will show the admission committee how you stand out from the crowd and what contributions you will be bringing to their institution.