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Steps to an Individualized Supplemental Essay

As we prepare for the official opening of the 2021-2022 Common Application on August 1, many students have taken advantage of the summer months to get a head start on their personal statements (aka Common App essays) as well as the numerous supplemental essays and short-answer questions. One of the more common supplemental essay questions revolves around a student’s activities and why it is meaningful to them. Below are some pearls and tips to help with this process Step 1 Read the Prompt thoroughly Be sure to answer the prompt, do not go off task, but be illustrative and explain your meaning. Step 2 Pick your topic of choice Choose an activity or experience that is meaningful to you. If you are passionate about something you did, you will have an easier time writing about it. Do not repeat information. Make sure you reflect personal significance, your best character traits, and your potential to succeed at the college or university. Some ideas of activities to write about:

  • An activity in which you held an active leadership role.

  • An activity you were really committed to in terms of time and involvement.

  • An activity which is meaningful, e.g., one that reflects your heritage, or a challenge you or a family member faced.

  • An activity that relates to your future goals

Step 3 Make it an interesting story Create a story and make it interesting, show initiative, leadership, problem solving, teamwork, or one or more of dozens of others character traits. Step 4 Mention leadership roles and take ownership of them Let the college know your leadership role and explain why you did it and what you learned from it, if it was a social media campaign or a community service project highlight this and show what you learned and what you gained from that experience. Step 5 Connect your school and community activities Mention student clubs and organizations. Demonstrate dedication, commitment, and persistence in your efforts, don’t be redundant and be creative.

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