Admissions college admissions College Essays Colleges

Colleges Without Supplemental Essays

When the Common Application came along with the premise of making the college application process easier than the many individual applications for each college, students and teachers rejoiced.

That was then….

NOW, most colleges seem to have 3 or 4 of their own supplemental essays in addition to what’s asked on the Common Application. Why? Because they DO want to know more about you such as why are you applying to their school and what has been your most meaningful activity in high school (a prior question on the old Common App).

Some schools however, are bucking the supplemental essay trend and relying only on the Common Application. Why? Well, maybe because they’d like a LOT more applicants so they can have a more qualified pool from which to select. With no supplemental essays students might thing, “SURE, I’ll just throw one in because it’s easy.”

Or, maybe colleges just want a lot more applicants so they can reject more and their acceptance rates will go down making them appear more prestigious. Perhaps they don’t have the manpower to handle them all or maybe they’re just trying to make your life as a student a smidge easier during a tumultuous and stressful time. Whatever the case may be there are many great schools that don’t require supplemental essays.

supplemental essays senior year

If you are a senior, now is the time to get your college application essays done before senior year work ramps up.  It can be overwhelming because many schools have supplements that have students addressing upwards of seven random essays IN ADDITION to the essay on the Common Application.

Some students, especially those late to the admissions game, will inquire about schools that don’t require supplemental essays simply for sake of ease as they’re running out of time. Regardless of why YOU want to know which schools don’t require any extra essays, we’ve got you covered. See below sample schools that don’t require extra essays this year.



shine on supplemental college admissions essays


Many colleges typically want more than what the Common App asks applicants and we definitely work with our students to craft a proactive approach to all those ‘extra’ essays. Whether your target list of schools requires supplemental essays or not, we’re here to help you share your voice, your vision and your true scholarly selves to the college admissions world.

Admissions college admissions College Essays University of California

University of California Personal Insight Questions for 2017-2018

The University of California is known as a top-ranked school system with a series of excellent programs, beautiful grounds, and (perhaps most important to current high school seniors) its own unique application. Students applying to any of the University of California’s nine campuses—UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz—must complete and submit UC’s undergraduate application. The essay portion of this application asks students to respond to four of eight personal insight questions, which must be addressed in short responses of no more than 350 words each.


  1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
  2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
  3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
  4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
  5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
  6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
  7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
  8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

University of California admissions


Struggling to address these questions? Wondering how to adapt your Common App essays to fit these prompts? We’re here to help!

Admissions college admissions College Essays MIT

MIT Application Essays for 2017-2018

As we’ve mentioned before, many of our students hope to attend MIT. We can’t blame them: ranked #7 by the US News and World Report, MIT boasts world-renowned programs in subjects ranging from engineering to linguistics. Applicants interested in attending the school will have to submit MIT’s own application, which became available online this month. Instead of one long essay, MIT asks for a series of short response essays.


Here are the prompts for each essay you’ll see on the application:

  1. We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
  2. Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
  3. At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words)
  4. Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)
  5. Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

Finally, MIT’s application includes one optional prompt with no set word limit:

No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond below.

MIT Application Essays


As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, the best essays for any school—including MIT—will offer a fresh perspective, an active voice, and a great opening hook. If you’re looking to apply to MIT this year, we recommend you get to work on those essays as soon as possible!

Admissions Application Boot Camp college admissions Ivy Admissions

Application Boot Camp® 2017 Highlights

boston college tour fenwayWe just finished our 14th year of Application Boot Camp®, and we miss our students already. Students joined us in Boston from as far away as Japan, Nigeria and Kenya and as nearby as Central Massachusetts. Many are still traveling home and others are taking our advice and touring the many wonderful New England college campuses.


Our amazing Top Tier Admissions team worked with students on college essays, the Common App, UCalifornia app, Canadian and UK college apps, the UT app, and supplements from over 100 different colleges and universities. Each essay written at Application Boot Camp is read ‘admissions committee style,’ which means our senior staff and inexhaustible senior counselors read over 1,000 drafts in 4 days.

application boot camp student 2017
One of our ABC 2017 students hard at work!

Collectively, we put in LONG hours plus our students put in an additional 1-3 hours of homework per night. Worth it? If you could have heard the happy voices when we wrapped up on Saturday afternoon you would know it was definitely worth the intensity. AND, their applications and essays are fully maximized and complete! Students devoted themselves to 4 days of hard work and left on day 4 with their final essays on a flashdrive and their online applications filled in and saved.

We gave advice on campus visits and interview coaching, recommendation letter guidance, application strategy tips, input on early, regular and rolling rounds of admission, Common App tricks, and helped students pinpoint topic selections for essays.

Some of our students signed up for Application Boot Camp over a year and a half in advance, which jives well with the fact that we are about halfway booked in our Application Boot Camp 2018 program next August. If you are a rising junior and would like additional information on Application Boot Camp for next summer, let us know ASAP to grab a seat. We had a wait list this year.

Our students wrote spectacular essays on: Russian history, robotic arms, positive psychology, linguistics, Latin American studies, feminist theory, the intersection between music composition and computer science, sustainability, and much more.

In the midst of Boot Camp, one of our students texted a photo of her essays to her friends back home and they were shocked that not only had she started her essays but she was well on her way to ensuring her applications and essays were complete well before senior year even began. Our students arrive to Application Boot Camp with puzzled and concerned faces. Our staff of PhDs, writers, teachers and former Ivy League admissions officers coax ideas out of them based on their unique backgrounds, experiences, summer plans and academic passions.

application boot camp team

Each Application Boot Camp session is demanding but we sell out annually for good reason –our attendees are transformed and become part of our community of “Boot Campers” as they call themselves. They are amazed at what they can accomplish in 4 days, especially when they leverage our proactive and streamlined approach to essay writing for maximum impact.


Application Boot Camp is quick but each year when we examine first drafts from Day 1 alongside final copies from Day 4, it’s pretty astounding. Students can’t believe the transformation. Parents (and students) breathe a sigh of relief, flash-drives are full of stellar essays, and our students are ready to dive into senior year focused, driven and able to fully excel in their coursework –the last (yet extremely important) year of their high school careers.

We miss them all year but it’s such a treat as we hear back via iPhone videos, emails and calls letting us know where they got in and where they will be headed next year. The following August they are happily decorating their dorm rooms and we are working with the next crop of rising seniors.

Admissions Colleges

Computer Science Students: Check out Purdue

Purdue University, with an undergraduate enrollment of 29,497, is making news these days. They claim their grads have a “near 100% placement rate” when looking for jobs. If you are a computer science student, you may want to schedule your trip to their main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana this summer.

Purdue recently signed a five-year agreement with Microsoft to take part in an international quantum computing collaboration called “Station Q.” This association includes TU Delft (Netherlands), the Niels Bohr Institute (Denmark), University of Sydney (Australia), ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and the University of Maryland (U.S.).

Station Q will use scalable topological quantum computing to keep a system of interconnected quantum bits (qubits) stable enough for useful computation. Station Q’s interdisciplinary research team blends expertise in materials science, condensed matter physics, electrical engineering and computer architecture.

Computer Science college admissions

What high school computer kid wouldn’t want to be on a campus where the implications of quantum computing at scale are incredible? Experts note that development of a quantum computer would be a quantum leap (no pun intended) in computing, even more so than from counting on our fingers to the super computers of today.


At Purdue, computer science kids can specialize in one or more areas, depending on their interests. Tracks for specialization include:

  • Computational science and engineering
  • Computer graphics and visualization
  • Database and information systems
  • Foundations of computer science
  • Machine intelligence
  • Programming language
  • Security
  • Software engineering
  • Systems programming

If you just dabble in computers but want to be part of this quantum revolution, then consider Purdue’s Bridge Program for accepted freshman. It’s a two week summer program for students with little or no programming experience. Covering 70% of a semester’s class in basic programming, Bridge helps you launch into freshman fall ready to take on the world. Well…. at least able to program a bit better.

Beginning with the 2018 enrolling class, Purdue has changed to Early Action/Regular Decision admission plans. The Early Action application deadline is November 1 (with notification on January 15) and the Regular Decision deadline is January 1 (with notification by March 15). November 1 is the priority deadline for computer science students to apply.

We LOVE nonbinding Early Action because you are not committed to the school (as with early decision) but you’ll hear back in December before you submit your Regular round applications. There’s no risk in applying to Purdue Early Action.

We’ve had students head to Purdue for high school summer programs and those who have attended just for the computer program. If you’re a rising senior seeking colleges to add to your application strategy this summer and computer science is your focus, Purdue’s Early Action round might be one to consider this November.

Are you attending Purdue’s well-known STEP Engineering Program this summer? Tell us in the comments below! We can’t wait to hear about the programming languages you’re going to develop!