Most colleges want to know more than generic information about who enters their home. Imagine going through a lists of thousands of applicants with the same application, the supplemental personal statements, CSS profiles, essays all humanize the individual and helps the college decide who should be coming to dine with them for he next 4 years.
Supplements to the Common Application
Many colleges have supplements to the common application because they want to know more about the student. In some cases, they want to know what and how much the applicant knows about them.
Some colleges, typically more selective schools, will have supplemental essays to help get a better sense of a student’s writing as well as often his/her intellectual prowess. Other schools will have supplements but without essays to ask basic questions about financial aid, legacy status, intended college major, housing requirements, etc. The supplements very simple give the colleges a clearer picture of the applicant.
Used by over 400 colleges and universities, the Common Application is a standardized form that simplifies the college process. Before it was so widely used, students had to fill out a different application for every college they applied to! While most colleges are perfectly content with all the information that’s on the main application, it’s not surprising that some colleges want to know things about you that others don’t. That’s why there may be supplemental questions/essays to answer. One word of advice: If a college asks for a supplemental essay about why you want to study at their school, don’t take that question as an invitation to cut and replace the school’s name with the college you wrote that essay for initially. You need to be genuine about why you want to attend colleges who ask that question. If you can’t muster original reasons why you want to attend a school for the next four years of your life, chances are it’s not the right place for you!
While more than 500 colleges accept the Common Application, more than 50% create supplements because they want more information. Some of the information is informational, while others are additional short answers or long essays. These essays truly vary. Some are long second responses. Some are “why are you a good fit for us?” Others have short responses that probe different aspect of your experiences and character. View each supplemental essay as a gift. It’s another opportunity to share more stories and unique qualities you have to offer a college.
These colleges have supplements because the common application does not contain a question(s) that the college would like to know. Remember that the common application contains the same exact questions no matter which college you are sending it to. Some colleges may want to know where your parents attended school (legacy) or they may have a questions like “Why do you want to attend ABC college?”. Some are just collecting bits of information not asked in the common application.
The Common App is amazingly useful for consolidating a lot of information such as basic facts like date of birth, GPA, extracurriculars, etc. The Common App essay also allows you to present yourself to all of the schools that will see it, so you can introduce yourself to them.
The one negative thing about the common application if you represent a college is that it is common. You can apply to a dozen schools with just a few extra clicks. So they are left to wonder: is this student really interested in our campus, or did they just apply because it’s easy? By adding supplemental questions, a school can ask the question “Why us?”, which will let them know whether you are familiar with their campus and if you have put any real thought into applying. Take these supplements very seriously! It is how you will stand out from the others who decided to apply on a whim.
The supplement component of the common application is essential to complete in order to complete your application. Due to the fact that over 463 schools subscribe to the common application, thus making it easy for students to apply to multiple schools quickly and potentially without genuine desire attend some of those schools, the supplement section allows for a more personalized touch by the college to garner a greater understanding of your desire to attend their school.
Some schools need additional information to make an admission decision or for statistical reporting. For example, on the future plans section, there are only general academic interests listed, on the supplement the college typically has a list of majors that college offers and you will have the opportunity to put in your specific major of interest. Sometimes a college wants additional essays to learn more about a student and why they are interested in their college. My advice is to always fill out the “optional” essays. Providence college for instance always looks more favorably upon a student who writes something meaningful in the optional essay section, especially if that student is on the fence for acceptance.
The best way for colleges to understand your interest in their program offerings are responses which reflect knowledge of faculty, departments, traditions or courses indicating you “did homework.” Too often students piecemeal their general responses cutting and pasting answers which are patently clipped and pasted from the responses used for other institutions. If you are really invested in gaining admission, it will be apparent in answers that reflect synchronicity between your gifts or aims which are well-matched or potentially enhanced at the specific school to which you are applying – not every school. The other impact of supplements is the match, or lack of consistency between the writing in supplements as compared to your major essay.
Because they want to gain more information to make a decision about you – so do your best in answering all questions related to it.
Some college have supplements simply because they want more information in order to get a better understanding of who the applicant is and what they might bring to their school community. The Common Application offers them plenty, but in a process that is ultimately about schools creating the kind of community that reflects their mission and goals, they may have some more pointed or focused questions and concerns that are not fully reflected in the Common App. Ultimately the supplements are additional opportunities for an applicant to show who they are and why the fit might be the best one for all involved.
Some colleges have supplements to the common app because they want to learn more information about the prospective student.
Colleges often want to know more specific information than is requested on the Common Application, especially as it relates to their particular school. Supplement questions may ask you to think about why you want to attend the colleges, why you think you’d be a good fit, or what you can bring to the campus. You may also encounter questions that help the college to get a broader picture of who you are as an individual and a student. This information can be helpful for schools not just in their admissions decisions, but in making scholarship offers. Be sure to give each supplement as much effort and attention as you do the main Common Application.
Most colleges want as much information as possible to evaluate applicants. Supplements help provide a more detailed picture of who you are.
Colleges have supplements to the application because they are requiring more information from you than the normal Common Application asks for. The schools that are satisfied with the personal statement that the Common Application requires will not have a supplement, but a number of schools that use the Common Application will ask that you write a few more specific essays tailored especially for what they are looking for in students who they want to admit. Some have athletic supplements in case you are interested in playing intercollegiate athletics at their school. Make sure these supplements are completed efficiently and accurately. They are important to the application.
The information captured on the Common Application is information that all participating schools need and want. The questions asked on the Supplement are of interest to that school but may not be of interest to other schools. For example, one school supplement asks if applicants have participated in any robotics competitions. That’s not something that every school needs or wants to know, so it’s included on that school’s supplement but not on the Common App itself.
i feel that certain colleges want to put their personal stamp on the application. It is in the same vein that a few of the colleges will still ask for the SAT 2 even though a great percentage of the colleges no longer require SAT 2 the other colleges are satisfied with the SAT 1
A well devised review process should reflect the college’s mission and goals. Application requirements stem from creating a review process grounded in institutional identity. Supplemental essays enable very distinct institutions to tailor the Common App to their institution’s specific goals and mission. While supplements can seem cumbersome, they may reveal something about the school to which you are applying. And, the supplemental responses should resonate a student’s compatibility with the institution.
A long time ago (think around 10 years ago) a college supplement was a way to collect additional data on an applicant. The data sought, looked at legacy information (did mom or dad or their parents attend the school for instance), some particular information on your choice of major or other demographic data that is not normally asked in the body of the main application. For many schools this remains the case to day.
Each college or university has its own institutional mandate. Those schools that require more information to make admissions decisions, ask for those details in the institutional supplement.
Colleges have supplements because they may feel that the Common Application doesn’t provide them with some needed information. Often it is an opportunity to ask an essay question unique to that institution.
Here is my video response to the question.
Currently accepted by more than 500 selective college and universities, the Common Application allows students to complete one form and apply to dozens of colleges–at once. Arguably, the Common Application has simplified the application process for thousands of students, but in some ways, it has complicated the objectives of participating colleges. Given the ease with which students can now apply to multiple institutions, some colleges are finding it increasingly difficult to gauge the intentions of applicants. If admissions officers fail to admit a sufficient number of genuinely interested students, the college is likely to experience declines in enrollment, yield, revenue and rankings. Therefore, to distinguish substantial from superficial commitment, colleges adopt Common Application supplements featuring institution-specific questions and essays that test the knowledge and commitment of prospective students. The information that applicants provide within these supplements are especially important to highly selective institutions, who have an increasing need to differentiate between highly qualified applicants. Therefore, students should give serious attention to Common Application supplements, and devote the due-diligence and effort needed to convey their “fit” for a particular target school.
it is the best way to collect additional information about the student and things that are matters the most to the individual school.
In some cases the supplement can ask you to write one or more additional essays. In other cases, the college might just request that you answer some questions. With a few notable exceptions, the more selective a college is- the more likely that the supplement will be challenging to complete. The most common extra essay asks the often key question of “Why do you want to attend our school”? I call that question the “Love Letter Essay”. And if you cannot answer that question, perhaps then you need to ask yourself why you would want to go to that school! While it can be tough, try to avoid a generic one size fits all essay and ensure that you are answering with a genuine response.
Many colleges have supplements to the Common Application for two reasons:
(1) to determine how much the applicant knows about and wants to go to the school; and
(2) to ask specific questions of the applicant that the general Common Application prompts do not cover.
Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.
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