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Colleges Without Supplemental Essays: 2020

Back in 1975 when the Common App was first launched, it was truly a common application. Students filled out a form, wrote a short piece on a favorite extracurricular activity, and then their 650-word essay.

Over time, colleges started asking for supplemental essays as a way to get to know more about their applicants, make distinctions amongst a high-achieving applicant pool, and to better assess who was seriously interested in the school. Today, most colleges have two to four supplemental questions (long essays, short responses, lists) in addition to what’s being asked on the Common Application. So, applying to colleges is far from streamlined. We are almost back to where we were before the Common Application – different essays for different schools. But……

MOST but not ALL.

WHY?

There are still nearly 400 schools that accept the Common Application who don’t have additional supplements. That’s many good schools that don’t require supplemental essays and rely solely on the Common Application. So why don’t they ask any supplemental questions? Most likely, the decision falls into one of the following:

  • A desire to increase accessibility and attract more applicants. An application with lots of additional essays will deter students who lack the time to work on them. Essentially – get more kids to apply!
  • A much-more straightforward admissions process that is based primarily on scores, class rank, and GPA. Data drives these schools vs getting to know the candidates.

Whatever your reason for seeking a school that doesn’t require additional supplemental essays, we’ve got you covered.

SAMPLE LIBERAL ARTS SCHOOLS WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS

SAMPLE UNIVERSITIES WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS

ESSAY GUIDANCE

Whether your list of schools requires supplemental essays or not, or if you’re still working on your Common Application essay – we’re here to help you share your voice, your vision and your true scholarly selves to college admissions officers and can help you craft compelling essays.

“T was accepted early decision to Boston College! Thank you so, so much for all of the help and guidance that you provided us over the past 6 months. I can’t imagine there are many (if any!) people out there who are better than you at what you do! Thank you for your patience, prompt replies, and for keeping T on track! We are very grateful to have found you and worked with you!”

– D.M., Essay Guidance Program parent
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2020-2021 Supplemental Essay Prompts: Early Releases

The first day of summer has arrived and with it, a new application season has begun. Colleges across the country are beginning to release their supplemental essays, well in advance of the application deadlines, so that students can get a jump start on their materials. These essays complement the longer Main Essay and provide applicants with opportunities to share additional information about their leadership, meaningful activities, community engagement, and intellectual experiences.

As with last year’s supplements, there is a strong “Why Essay” trend this year. In order to gauge your genuine interest in a particular school, admissions officers want to see that you have done your homework and can make a case for why you would be a good fit. Brown, for instance, asks: “Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about an academic interest (or interests) that excites you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue it. (250 words)” Other schools, like Cornell, ask applicants to respond to the essay question that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which they are applying (i.e. the College of Arts and Sciences or one of the other six colleges on campus.) The University of Chicago, notorious for the most creative supplemental questions (written by the previous year’s incoming class), offers seven options for the extended supplemental essay. One of the more irreverent options asks, “What can actually be divided by zero?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your supplements, you are not alone. We are here to help! This summer is the perfect time to work on your supplemental essays, especially now that you have unexpected free time at home due to COVID.

Don’t delay. The more you can do NOW, the more you can focus on your senior year grades without the added stress of college applications. On August 1, the Common App, the most popular application platform, will officially “go live,” but there’s no reason to wait to start your essays until then. Work one-on-one with one of our senior counselors to craft unique, stand-out essays with our College Essay Program. Or enroll in our trademark Application Boot Camp ® , which takes place over the course of four days in August and has a few remaining seats as of today.

THE VARIOUS APPLICATION PLATFORMS

Note: Some schools, like Georgetown University, use their own application. Students interested in Georgetown must first complete and submit the Georgetown Application (a short form), which initiates the alumni interview and grants you access to the official application platform. The University of California likewise uses their own distinct application for their nine campuses.

2020-2021 SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAY PROMPTS

We’ll continue to update this list as supplements are released. Feel free to note any schools we might’ve missed in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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2019-2020 Supplemental Essay Prompts: Early Releases **Updated**

We’ve had students, now at top colleges, write supplemental essays on topics including unicycling, robotics, drywall construction, feminist literature, squash, building playgrounds, working at a sandwich shop, baling hay, and Mexican baking. Many students come to us feeling unsure of what unique aspect of their lives would best fit which supplemental essay prompt and we love working with applicants to unpack that answer layer by layer.

MOST CREATIVE… YET AGAIN

Yet again UChicago gets the prize for the most creative supplemental essay prompt (so far): “Cats have nine lives, Pac-Man has 3 lives, and radioactive isotopes have half-lives. How many lives does something else—conceptual or actual—have, and why?”

As our students can attest, the best time to write college application essays is the summer before senior year, which is why we have run our trademark Application Boot Camp ® every August since 2005.

Current JUNIORS and SOPHOMORES, consider our Application Boot Camp 2020 AND 2021 to ensure you’re ready to tackle the ever-important senior year without the worry and stress of college applications!

THE VARIOUS APPLICATION PLATFORMS

2019-2020 Coalition App (is now online)

2019-2020 Universal College App (often called the UCA, is now online)

2019-2020 Common App (will launch 8/1/19, but the online platform is undergoing appearance changes in July)

2019-2020 SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAY PROMPTS (*UPDATED)

Although the 2019-2020 Common App does not go live until August 1st (and bear in mind that this year more than ever before the Common App is rumored to delete anything you entered into your account pre-Aug 1st!), the above schools, and more every day, are allowing students to hit the ground running with supplements —or, if you’re applying to UChicago, start eating Pac-Man dots. We are here to help you brainstorm and craft your college essays.  Let’s get started in our College Essay Program.

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Schools Without Supplemental Essays: 2019 Edition

The relationship between college admissions and students is not a reciprocal one. So much GIVE, GIVE, GIVE by the student followed by a lot of TAKE, TAKE, TAKE from the schools. The Common App itself is tedious and filled with various pitfalls for even the most discerning student and the main essay can be a doozy. Add on supplemental essays that many schools require and you’re looking at potentially 3-5 (if not more) additional essays per school. Phew… we’re tired just thinking of all that writing!

Pssst –One of the benefits of working with our Senior Counselors in our Essay Guidance Program are the tips and tricks learned for ‘morphing’ essays for various prompts, word counts, etc. to help reduce the amount of ‘new’ writing you actually have to do!

SILVER LINING

BUT…not all schools actually require supplemental essays. There are quite a few very good schools that are content with the main essay only. So, whether you’re short on time or even energy at this point, there are options out there that don’t require additional writing.

SAMPLE LIBERAL ARTS SCHOOLS WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS

SAMPLE UNIVERSITIES WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS

ESSAY GUIDANCE

We’re here to help you share your voice, your vision and your true scholarly selves to the college admissions world.

I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated your approach to essay guidance; you always consulted me about potential changes and allowed me to decide whether to make edits as per your suggestions. As someone who’s generally very independent, I found it easy and rewarding to work with you because you allowed me to write the entire essay and maintain my voice/style while still using your suggestions on what a college essay should look like.
–Student, Essay Guidance Program