Don’t Forget the Other Essays
Scholarship, Education, Tips Don’t Forget the Other Essays
The vaunted college essay or personal statement causes much consternation. However, it isn’t the only writing sample on a college application, and applicants need to remember to put the same amount of care into all writing samples.
The vaunted college essay or personal statement causes much consternation. However, it isn’t the only writing sample on a college application, and applicants need to remember to put the same amount of care into all writing samples. On the Common Application, in addition to the long essay there is a short response (150 words), “Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below (150 words or fewer, 750 character maximum).” This question used to read, “What is your most meaningful activity and why?” and I recommend you still treat it that way. In many ways, what you choose to write about says almost as much about you as what you actually say. Truly choose the most important activity to you, and not what you think they want you to say. It is important to maintain authenticity in your application. Besides, admissions officers are skilled professionals who are pretty good at sniffing out a phony.
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In addition to the short answer, many colleges have supplements with additional essays. A number of colleges have some variation of the question “Why us?” on their supplement. Make sure you take the time to research the school and show appropriate interest. Do not just submit a generic response that you use for all the colleges to which you are applying. Many schools use demonstrated interest in their admission decision, so you may want to mention how the school felt right on a campus visit, if you were actually on campus. You may also want to mention specific programs or clubs you research on the school’s website.
On their supplement, schools might also ask a number of different questions. In fact, it has become more popular for schools to ask a series of short response questions, which almost seem like tweets, as many are limited to less than 200 characters. Wake Forest is one college who asks these questions as a way to better learn about a student’s personality to determine if the student is a fit for their culture. Here are some of their sample questions:
What outrages you? What are you doing about it?
- This year our Wake Forest Student Union invited expert students to become teachers of non-credit classes in the Wake Forest Experimental college. Provide us with the title of a course that you could teach your peers.
- Make a rational argument for a position you do not personally support. For clarity, please state your true opinion first and then argue the opposite position.
- You may invite any three individuals from history to join you for a cup of coffee at our university coffee house, Campus Grounds. Whom would you invite? What is your icebreaker question to start conversation? and where might the conversation go from there?
- Give us your top ten list.
Just like with the main essay, it is critical to give yourself enough time to respond to the additional writing samples. Brevity is critical, as the character limit is strictly enforced by the online applications. This is a test of getting your point across in a concise manner, which can prove to be difficult. However, if you do take your time to plan out your responses, you should be able to use these short writing samples to your advantage.