Application Essay Tips: CommonApp/Supplement

<p>I'm making this post to help those who are struggling with or want to improve their essays for their application. I'm compiling a list of tips and advice based on the mistakes I've seen others make and the keys that helped me write my essay. I can also answer questions too. Hope it helps!</p>

<p>Common App:
I think the main thing colleges look for in the common is to see a) how well you write, b) how you think/view things, and c) your personality. This link has invaluable tips and examples for each of the common app prompts.
Common</a> Application Personal Essay - Tips for the 6 Personal Essay Options on the Common Application
This link also has some basic tips for any college essay:
Application</a> Essays: Tips for Writing Winning College Application Essays
For whichever topic you choose the major goal is to SHOW YOUR CHARACTER. Yes it's great if you wrote a great description of your trip to a third world country, but if the admission's counselors can't point out a personality trait then the essay isn't doing it's job. This is easy to do if you keep the focus of the essay on yourself. Not in a necessarily pretentious or conceited way, but a way that helps the adcoms learn about you.
Another tip is to make sure you ANSWER THE QUESTION. For example the 1st common app topic:
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
-The key word is "evaluate". Don't simply describe a significant experience, explain WHY the experience was significant to you and how it changed you. (The 1st link will have more tips on each of the questions).</p>

<p>Another tip is to check your grammar. Have a teacher, counselor, or adult you can trust check for grammar and style. In addition make sure you treat this like any other English paper with MLA headings, double space, etc.</p>

<p>My last bit of advice on the common app is to simply write from the heart and write on what your passionate about. If you spend too much time trying to write the essay you think the adcoms want to read, you'll become frustrated and make the essay much harder than it really is. I (foolishly) wrote my essay at the last minute and panicked trying to pick the perfect topic and find the formula an admissions-winning essay. Eventually I said to hell with all that and wrote what I truly felt. I picked the "topic of your choice" and wrote about my miscellaneous personality. In less than 24 hours before the deadline I was able to get down an essay that painted a good representation of me and one that I could be proud of. </p>

<p>If you have any questions post them here and I'll post my supplement tips soon.</p>

<p>Supplement Tips:
Beyond all the words in Penn's Supplement question, the gist of it is "Why Penn"? Colleges use these types of questions to see:
A: Why you want to come (obviously)
B: How much research you've done on the school
C: How you will add to the overall community of the school
(Check out this link for additional tips: 5</a> Supplemental Essay Mistakes - Avoid These Mistakes in Your Supplemental Essay for College Admissions)</p>

<p>Now the key word for this essay is "specific". Be SPECIFIC. The biggest mistake you can make with these essays is being to general. For example:
"I would like to attend Penn because of it's great research opportunities, excellent professors, and beautiful campus."
Yes, Penn has all those things but that essay could easily be:
"I would like to attend YALE because of it's great research opportunities, excellent professors, and beautiful campus."
If you have a "Why Penn" essay that can in ten seconds be a "Why Penn State" essay, then it's too generic. The following steps will help you craft a strong, specific, supplement essay.</p>

<ol>
<li>Research:</li>
<li><p>This shouldn't be too hard if you are serious about Penn. One of goals of this is essay is to show how much research you've done on Penn. You don't have to know every itty bitty detail, just the parts of it that are relative to your interests and major. Take a look at Penn's student groups: Office</a> of Student Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn has tons of student groups and you are more than likely to find one that interests you. Also, do research in relation to your particular school. I've probably spent days on Wharton's website learning about the school and all it's opportunities. If you're in the other schools, check out their websites or look up courses related to your major. If you're into research, learn about the the opportunities that are available to you. Mention a particular professor you would like to study under or volunteer opportunities. It will be much easier to write your "Why Penn" when you've taken some time to look at the website.</p></li>
<li><p>Create a List:
-After you've done some research, you will probably have an idea of what activities or opportunities you'd like to be involved in. Before you write your essay it will be helpful to create a list to organize your thoughts and serve as an outline for your essay. Separate your list into different categories to simplify it.
Category 1: Write down the activities, opportunities, or particular elements that you like about the specific school you are applying to.
Category 2: Write down your other academic interests including any other minors etc.
Category 3: Write down you extracurricular interests such as clubs or student organizations.
Your categories don't have to exactly be like this but it helps to have organization so your essay isn't all over the place and off topic. You also don't have to include everything in your list in your essay. It's just a guide.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Example list:
Wharton
- Leadership Ventures
- Cohorts
- Joseph Wharton Scholars
- Wharton Women
- Business Fraternity
Other Academic
- Minor in Psychology
- Interest in film studies
Extracurriculars
-Civic House/ Volunteering
-Big Brother Big Sister
- SPEC film group
- Intramural sport</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Write your essay
Now that you have a list/outline all you need to do is put into essay form. The three categories can be translated into a 5 paragraph essay with an intro-middle-conclusion. In the intro/conclusion you can lead in with a little visual detail or description of you at Penn strolling down the quad or indulging in a delicious cheese steak. The meat of your essay can be straightforward and formal.</p></li>
<li><p>Revise and Edit:
This is the time to check for grammar and cut any unnecessary detail. Remember to have a MLA heading, page numbers, and double space. Give it to a teacher or trusted adult to check for grammar and style.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Additional Note:
If you want to mention starting a club or an idea to bring to Penn, make sure that it does not already exist. It makes you look uninformed about Penn if you talk of starting a group or magazine that's already there. Again, it all goes back to the main step of research.</p>

<p>Hope these tips demystify the "Why Penn" essay. Good luck!</p>

<p>
[quote]
Beyond all the words in Penn's Supplement question, the gist of it is "Why Penn"? Colleges use these types of questions to see:
A: Why you want to come (obviously)
B: How much research you've done on the school
C: How you will add to the overall community of the school
(Check out this link for additional tips: 5 Supplemental Essay Mistakes - Avoid These Mistakes in Your Supplemental Essay for College Admissions)

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I generally agree with this advice, but I think the essay demands an answer to the question, "Why YOU at Penn?" moreso than simply, "Why Penn." Therefore, I would say that subpoint C. is the most important to this essay. </p>

<p>As weird as this may sound, I didn't make Penn the focus of my essay. I made my interests and my goals the focus of the essay, and simply drew in some of Penn's unique characteristics to supplement and realize my research/academic ideas. This way, I was able to talk about my ideas and interests in the context of a Penn environment, rather than spew buzzlines about how good Penn is. </p>

<p>If I were to make a diagram of what I'm trying to say:</p>

<p>Penn Penn Penn
Penn You Penn
Penn Penn Penn</p>

<p>Make yourself the center of the essay, and surround your ideas with Penn's characteristics.</p>

<p>I fund this thread really useful. The advise is spot on. I would recommend this to anyone who's having a problem with the supplement.</p>

<p>Thank you so much this is extremely useful. I am also writing the supplements last minute(yes foolish) and i have no idea how. This thread really gave me a headstart! Thank you!</p>

<p>Your welcome!
bump</p>

<p>candygyrl0877
would it be to much trouble for you to read my supplement essay? I have a few concerns about my use of tenses and before break my teacher and I had gone over it and rearranged a few things but now that it's break I can't contact her. Can u please give me ur feedback?</p>

<p>I can look at it but I'm not the best at checking grammar. I used Paper</a> Rater: Free Online Grammar Checker, Proofreader, and More and Grammar</a> | Check English Grammar Online for Free to check for the basics. Reading it out loud usually helps to pick up any discrepancies.</p>

<p>Ok Thanks
=)</p>

<p>bumps again</p>

<p>Thanks for the tip.</p>

<p>1) Do you think they word count the essay? mine is 430 rather than 500</p>

<p>2) heading? title? i cant find a clear consensus on these.</p>

<p>waterboy, 500 is the max, so a 430 is fine. Mine was around that 450. </p>

<p>I had a title for my supplement essay, but only because I had a good title in mind, not because I felt the need to have it.</p>

<p>500's the max but as long you have good length and a full essay it shouldn't matter too much.</p>

<p>is</p>

<p>penn: my backbone... too cheesy of a title....</p>

<p>i only relate to it during the last sentence of my essay, which i could pm u for context.</p>

<p>btw... did you put your name on yours?</p>

<p>Is 500 the dead-set maximum word limit? I thought it was approximately 500, one page?</p>

<p>Mine is 530... Which has been cut down from 700... Would they really mind those 30 words? Also, would any penn student be willing to read mine? (For content mostly, not grammar)</p>

<p>If it says 500, it's 500. If you get a picky admission officer, you might be screwed. Is it a risk worth taking? Up to you.</p>

<p>How long should the common app essay be?
There isn't a word limit stated and mine is around 1200 words. I know it's pretty lengthy but I honestly don't know how i can shorten it. I'm talking about a local issue of personal importance and I feel really strongly about it. Will the admissions officers be ticked that they have to read such a long essay?</p>

<p>the common app doesn't have a set limit so there's no right or wrong. from places I've read its best to keep it in the 750-1000 zone. It shouldn't hurt you too bad as long as the essay is strong and keeps their interest.</p>

<p>Website says 500, 1200 is definitely excessive.</p>

<p>Not sure what the set number of words is but 1,200 is a very long essay and although it might be of a topic of great personal importance to you, it needs to be of great interest to the reader. I'd tried to edit a couple of hundred words - when you look again every word may not be necessary. Most readers don't read the whole essay especially if the first 150 words does not reel them in.</p>