5 Tips for Writing College-Specific Essays

You filled out the Common App or the Coalition Application. You bared your soul in your essay. You get ready to "apply," and realize that you're not done. There are more essays to write. Oh no! Not more!
 
It's true. The more selective colleges not only ask for responses on what major you want to pursue and whether your parents work at the university, but many of them ask for additional essays on their supplements. Here are five important tips for tackling these additional essays.
 
1. Leave plenty of time to write these essays.
If additional essays are required by the college, they matter. In fact, they tend to be just as important as the main college essay. 
 
2. If you visited the college, you will be at an advantage when writing their essays.
Students who visit will have a much better sense of what type of environment the college is and what type of student they are looking for. It is much harder to gather that information from just the website or marketing materials.
"A campus visit is invaluable when it comes time to write your college-specific essays." TWEET THIS
 
3. Don't rely on the same themes or anecdotes that the tour guide or admissions officers use. 
While students like to mention little tidbits about the college that they learned on the tour or during the information session, be careful! Lots of students use the same themes and anecdotes when writing these college-specific essays. Be inspired by what you heard. But be original when writing these essays, most of all.
 
4. Reference personal connections, people, or experiences related to the college. 
The most powerful college-specific essays show how influenced the student is by what is offered at the college. The smallest little interaction, article, or moment related to the college can be a beautiful way to frame the essay. For example, a student's favorite book might have been written by a professor at the college who teaches in the department where the student wants to study. Or a preeminent study that has shaped the student's academic path could have been compiled on the college's campus. Make a connection between yourself and the institution in a way that is deeply personal and meaningful to you.
 
5. Even if the essay prompt doesn't mention the college, the essay should be inspired by the college's approach and ethos.
Many of the elite colleges have a long list of essay prompts on the supplement. Some of the prompts don't even mention the college by name. However, the student should keep the college at the forefront of their mind as they write the response. This will help them embody the type of student the college hopes to attract.
 

BONUS: Stumped for a topic for your main college essay? Read my companion blogs:
Advice from “The College Essay Whisperer”– Part 1 and Advice from “The College Essay Whisperer”– Part 2


 
As daunting as these additional essays may seem, some of the content, especially related to the student's academic interest, can be recycled for other essays. Writing the first one is the hardest, and the rest fall into place faster than expected. Good luck!