Nearly every university requires at least one essay. Some schools also ask for additional or supplemental essays that explain a student’s course of study, an activity that matters to them or something else entirely. The silver lining: The personal statement is submitted to nearly every school, and supplemental essays can be repurposed to respond to similar prompts. Here’s a crash course.
The Personal Statement.
The classic version is the 650-word personal statement essay. Applicants respond to one of seven prompts to show some element of their personality and offer insight into who they are.
The “Why Us” Essay.
Simply put, students are asked to discuss why they want to attend a given university. Applicants who nail this do their research and express sincere interest. They write knowledgeably about the university and show how they’d take advantage of opportunities there.
The “Topics of Interest” Essay.
This is a golden opportunity for students to show off their intellectual chops, explaining what fascinates them about a chosen topic of study and how they’ve already pursued it—in class, in clubs and on their own time.
The “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” Essay.
This topic has risen in prominence as colleges and universities have placed increasing value on campus diversity. Applicants should use this opportunity to discuss their unique lived experiences and how their perspective will contribute to the college community.
The “Community” Essay.
College isn’t just about the classroom. It’s also about how students contribute to the campus community in a formal or informal way. Applicants should go beyond merely describing the community and focus on what they see as their roles and contributions.
The “Activities” Essay.
While the Common Application gives students space to discuss 10 activities (clubs, jobs, sports, hobbies, volunteer work), essays like this allow for more depth. Aside from simply describing what a club or organization does, applicants should focus on the impact it makes.
Contributor Alyssa Coltrain is with Ivy Experience, a leading test prep, tutoring and essay consulting service in our region. Coltrain is college admissions director. Visit myivyexperience.com.