Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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Our Counselors Answered:

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Patricia KrahnkePresident/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

Short Answer: Because they are interested in knowing more –and specific—information about you than the Common App provides. Detailed Answer: The Common App makes it very easy for students to apply to several colleges without doing much research about the colleges. While it is true that most colleges view the ease of the Common App as a means for increasing their application numbers, it is also true that many colleges value details that may help them to differentiate between equally strong candidates. So they will allow you the freedom and ease of submitting the Common App, but then they may request that you submit other, very specific documentation separately from the application.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

Supplements to the Common Application The Common Application was developed in part to establish a common denominator among institutions to which a student would be applying, permitting the student to complete one application which would then be submitted to multiple institutions. That makes sense because there are many common elements between one college and another regarding what they want to know about their applicants. Why should a student have to waste time repeating the same information over and over again? Everything an institution wants to know about an applicant doesn’t always boil down to those “common denominators”, though. In the cases in which a school wants additional information or has other essay topics which it sees as more relevant to itself, a supplement specific to that school will be required. Except for identification details, the supplement will not ask for information which has already been provided on the general Common Application.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

Why do some colleges have 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.

Mollie ReznickAssociate DirectorThe College Connection

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Joseph Tavares

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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!

Joseph Tavares

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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!

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Kerrie TrosethCollege Counselor

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Jessica BrondoFounder and CEOThe Edge in College Prep

Why do some colleges have supplements to 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. However, as a result the Common App only shows very basic information. Schools want to get to know you more than that, and after they know a bit about you, they want to know why you would be a good fit for THEM. They will ask you the questions that they want to know the answer for because it will tell them if you are a good match for the school. A more science and engineering based school will ask different questions than a liberal arts college will. This is the part of your application where you really need to think about yourself in relation to each school. If you have certain qualities you believe a school will appreciate more than another one, play those up! The supplements are where the personal stuff takes place, this is where you become more than just a number.

Lynda McGeeCollege CounselorDowntown Magnets High School

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Kathleen HarringtonOwnerNew Jersey College Consulting

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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. Be sure to answer any and all supplemental questions thoroughly. Keep in mind that if a college indicates that a part of the application is “optional”, such as extra supplemental questions, you should highly consider completing these items to further showcase your genuine interest in attending.

Erica WhiteCollege & Career CounselorMiddletown High School

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Angela ConleyCollege Admission ExpertVentureForth

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

Because they want to gain more information to make a decision about you – so do your best in answering all questions related to it.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Common Application Supplements—A Vehicle for Better Understanding

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.

Rana SlosbergOwnerSlosberg College Solutions LLC

Common App Supplement

Some colleges have supplements to the common app because they want to learn more information about the prospective student. Common questions on the supplement include: — What college in the University the student is interested in attending? — What is your intended major? — Have you visited the college? — Have you had an interview? — Have other family members attended this college? Often there are one or more additional essays in the supplement. A common essay in the Supplement is some variation of “Why do you want to attend College X?”

Rana SlosbergOwnerSlosberg College Solutions LLC

Common App Supplement

Some colleges have supplements to the common app because they want to learn more information about the prospective student. Common questions on the supplement include: — What college in the University the student is interested in attending? — What is your intended major? — Have you visited the college? — Have you had an interview? — Have other family members attended this college? Often there are one or more additional essays in the supplement. A common essay in the Supplement is some variation of “Why do you want to attend College X?”

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

Most colleges want as much information as possible to evaluate applicants. Supplements help provide a more detailed picture of who you are.

Trevor CreedenDirector of College and Career CounselingDelaware County Christian School

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

Reena Gold KaminsFounderCollege, Career & Life, LLC.

Supplements allow you to share more about yourself.

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.

Charles Bealcounselorcovina high school

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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

Charles Bealcounselorcovina high school

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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

Annie ReznikCounselor/CEOCollege Guidance Coach

Finding the fit, from the college perspective

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.

Chip LawCo-founder Managing Director Educational Avenues

Supplements a curse, a blessing or just a real pain in the …?

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. For the purpose of this answer let’s look at the Common application which represents over 400 of the top colleges and universities in the US. In addition to the above each school may want to know why you want to go to their institution and will allow you to write an essay on this subject. They want to know if you’ve done your homework and can cite things that are specific and unique to their school or campus. If you reply with generic terms, your response can hurt your chance for admission. More selective schools will ask more challenging questions. Here, the essays are tougher and the supplement IS used as a key criterion for making an admission decision. You need to be careful as you reply to these questions and must give mature well thought out answers. One popular school asks you to describe something that outrages you. Trust me: telling the school about the annoying chem lab partner that loudly chews gum while you do your lab work is a sure to get tossed into the deny file. Now that many schools are test optional, a supplement becomes a necessity in order to differentiate applicants when they are in the admission decision process. So what are they for you? As a blessing they can be the best way for you to showcase you uniqueness and increase your chances for admission. As a curse they can become onerous and the more schools that you apply to the more time and care you’ll need to put into them. Yep, they’re a pain, but if you are seriously into doing your best when you apply, you must take each one as a small project whose importance may make a major difference in your life.

Chip LawCo-founder Managing Director Educational Avenues

Supplements a curse, a blessing or just a real pain in the …?

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. For the purpose of this answer let’s look at the Common application which represents over 400 of the top colleges and universities in the US. In addition to the above each school may want to know why you want to go to their institution and will allow you to write an essay on this subject. They want to know if you’ve done your homework and can cite things that are specific and unique to their school or campus. If you reply with generic terms, your response can hurt your chance for admission. More selective schools will ask more challenging questions. Here, the essays are tougher and the supplement IS used as a key criterion for making an admission decision. You need to be careful as you reply to these questions and must give mature well thought out answers. One popular school asks you to describe something that outrages you. Trust me: telling the school about the annoying chem lab partner that loudly chews gum while you do your lab work is a sure to get tossed into the deny file. Now that many schools are test optional, a supplement becomes a necessity in order to differentiate applicants when they are in the admission decision process. So what are they for you? As a blessing they can be the best way for you to showcase you uniqueness and increase your chances for admission. As a curse they can become onerous and the more schools that you apply to the more time and care you’ll need to put into them. Yep, they’re a pain, but if you are seriously into doing your best when you apply, you must take each one as a small project whose importance may make a major difference in your life.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

For some schools, it is all in the details…

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.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Supplements

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.

Rod BugarinFormer Admissions OfficerColumbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

Here is my video response to the question.

Andrew BelascoCEOCollege Transitions LLC

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

individualized questions and answers

it is the best way to collect additional information about the student and things that are matters the most to the individual school.

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe College Connection

The supplement gives the school an opportunty to learn more about you!

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.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

Why do some colleges have supplements to the common application?

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. Many schools include the following question in their supplements: “Why us?” They want to know why the applicant has chosen to apply to their particular school. Schools use this question to determine an applicant’s “demonstrated interest” and to gauge the student’s enthusiasm for the school. If a student knows quite a lot about the school through alumni, school visits, etc., a student will be able to answer this question with lots of telling details. This signals to the school that the student has a strong interest in the school and is more likely to accept an offer than a student who has less of an interest in the school. Schools also use supplements to gauge a student’s “fit” with the general tenor and vibe of the school. Some schools have a unique personality and they want to make sure that students can find a solid place within that community. For example, the University of Chicago offers students extremely unusual essay prompts such as “Don’t write about reverse psychology” and “Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it.” Give us your guess. You can really tell a lot about this school and about the type of students they attract by such creative, whimsical and thought-provoking prompts!

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

To Get To Know You Better

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. Many schools include the following question in their supplements: “Why us?” They want to know why the applicant has chosen to apply to their particular school. Schools use this question to determine an applicant’s “demonstrated interest” and to gauge the student’s enthusiasm for the school. If a student knows quite a lot about the school through alumni, school visits, etc., a student will be able to answer this question with lots of telling details. This signals to the school that the student has a strong interest in the school and is more likely to accept an offer than a student who has less of demonstrated interest. Schools also use supplements to gauge a student’s “fit” with the general tenor and vibe of the school. Some schools have a unique personality, and they want to make sure that students can find a solid place within that community. For example, the University of Chicago offers students extremely unusual essay prompts such as “Don’t write about reverse psychology” and “Tell us about your non-scientific method.” You can really tell a lot about this school and about the type of students they attract by such creative, whimsical and thought-provoking prompts!

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