Most college applicants fail to put adequate time into a supplemental college essay. The Common Application's personal essay allows a student to write a single essay for multiple colleges. The supplemental college essay, however, needs to be different for every application. Thus, it's tempting to dash off a generic and vague piece that can be used at multiple schools. See, for example, the weak essay written for Duke University.
Don't make a similar mistake. The sample supplemental college essay below was written for Oberlin. The essay prompt reads, "Given your interests, values, and goals, explain why Oberlin College will help you grow (as a student and a person) during your undergraduate years."
The question asked here is typical of many supplemental essays. Essentially, the admissions folks want to know why their school is of particular interest to you.
The sample below shows a solid response to the question. After reading the short essay, be sure to read the discussion of the essay.
I visited 18 colleges over the past year, yet Oberlin is the one place that most spoke to my interests. Early in my college search I learned that I prefer a liberal arts college to a larger university. The collaboration between the faculty and undergraduate students, the sense of community, and the flexible, interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum are all important to me. Also, my high school experience was greatly enriched by the diversity of the student body, and I am impressed by Oberlin’s rich history and its current efforts connected to inclusiveness and equality. To say the least, I’d be proud to say I attended the first coeducational college in the country.
I plan to major in Environmental Studies at Oberlin. After my campus tour, I took some extra time to visit the Adam Joseph Lewis Center. It’s an amazing space and the students I chatted with spoke highly of their professors. I became truly interested in issues of sustainability during my volunteer work in the Hudson River Valley, and everything I’ve learned about Oberlin makes it seem the ideal place for me to continue exploring and building upon those interests. I am also impressed by Oberlin’s Creativity and Leadership Project. I’ve been a bit of an entrepreneur ever since second grade when I made a dollar producing and performing The Runaway Bunny for my extended family. I’m drawn to a program that supports the move from classroom learning to creative hands-on, real-world applications.
Finally, as the rest of my application clearly demonstrates, music is an important part of my life. I’ve been playing the trumpet since fourth grade, and I hope to continue performing and developing my skills throughout college. What better place than Oberlin to do so? With more performances than days in the year and a large group of talented musicians in the Conservatory of Music, Oberlin is an ideal place for exploring my love of both music and the environment.
Read the critique of this short essay.