Personal Statement and Supplemental Essay Too Similar?

Hey all! I have recently finished my initial draft of both my personal statement and my supplemental essay. They are sort of similar but I’m not sure if they’re similar enough to be worried about.

Personal Statement - about how my journey to becoming a division 1 goalkeeper, until a concussion made me unable to play soccer again. In my recovery, I rekindled an old passion for music and am on the track of pursuing a music major.

Supplemental Essay - about struggling to establish myself as an individual, when growing up as a quadruplet. Eventually, I found my identity in music, until I gave it up for soccer.

Since both talk about my music passion (though in different stages of life), are they too similar to be effective as personal statements and supplemental essays?

Obviously one needs to read to see how you phrase it, it is two different times of your life - albeit in similar theme.

It could work.

Or you can write about something entirely different.

Can you explain why you couldn’t establish yourself as an individual in music so you found soccer ? In other words, what’s the why in greater detail that led you to soccer. Maybe that would help me separate the themes.

Personally I’d swap out the supplemental. If you apply to enough schools, you’ll find a duplicate essay…one you can use at several schools.

If you like the supplemental better than use for Common.

I wouldn’t do these two - not that it couldn’t work but it’s be better, in my opinion, to not have two essays Music to soccer and the other soccer to music

Essays can be about anything. How the yellow fuzz on a tennis ball excites you or you can google the girl who got into Yale writing about how waiting for papa johns is exhilarating. Just tie them back to you.

Good luck.


Okay. Thanks! I’ve been thinking a little more and I think I’m gonna keep my common app essay, and write my supplemental essay about growing up as a quadruplet (and not reference music). I think the quadruplet aspect is important and distinctive, so I can probably write about a different aspect of it.


Truth is you’ll never know what does or does not work. And if you like the supplemental better, use it for common.

My kid wrote about her move of tea and how tea can be used as a conduit to heal the world’s wounds. My son wrote about being literal and not understanding context.

Did they work ? No clue. Most likely don’t move the needle one way or the other. Some clearly do though.

The point is - it could be directly about you or something tangential to you or not at all.

You have time. Think beyond what you’ve written about ? Could there be something better ?

What is the supplemental essay question ?

For common app are you answering anything in 1-6 ?

My common app is sort of a mix of prompt 2 and 7. My supplemental essay prompt is essentially “what makes you unique?”.

Ok. Being a quadruplet makes you unique but will you be able to show how besides I’m the rare one of four. As rare as that is, that’s all that you know.

I lost a parent very young. That’s unique. But truth is I did not know what it’s like to grow up with a mom. So that’s unique. But that’s not what they’re seeking. So you need to show the impact etc and not just be one of ten million are quadruplets and that’s me….if that makes sense.

Ps you’ll have to choose a common prompt. Of your essay doesn’t totally tie to #2 then go for the essay of choice prompt.

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An applicant doesn’t need to answer a specific prompt. In fact, many of the best ones don’t. “Prompt” #7 is always a non-prompt: 1. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Is that what you are saying? I am not sure.


I just came on and was going to suggest you use the supplement to write about being a quadruplet, which is very interesting. Looks like you came to the same conclusion!

The supplement should be about something not covered in the rest of the application.

While repeating content can work depending on how it is written, I think the topic of growing up as a quadruplet is fascinating and a good focus for the supplementary essay.


Exactly. If it doesn’t tie 100% use the essay of choice. #7 I believe.

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Since you have time to work on it, I would suggest that you dig a little deeper for your personal statement. Sports injury essays are extremely common, and it will be hard for you to stand out writing about a topic that admissions officers see so often. It’s possible to say something they haven’t heard, but I bet you could find an essay that would be more to unique to you.

I would also avoid writing about your intended major in your personal statement. Many schools will have supplemental essays asking, in one way or another, “why this major?” If you talk about it in your personal statement, you are going to be repeating yourself in the supplement. Try to use your space to reveal new and interesting things about yourself, not things they can find in other parts of your application.

Also, I’m not sure what supplement you mean. There is an optional supplemental section of the common app, which is most often — but not always — used to explain extenuating circumstances related to grades. Is that where you are intending to write about being a quadruplet? Or are you talking about a school-specific supplement?

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Maybe use the quadruplets for common ?

I assumed he meant specific school supplement and often you find those repeated.

You don’t know what essay(s) will be read first. I’ve heard AO say that they focus primarily on the supplementals that the college asks a student to write. To them, the personal statement is less important. That isn’t the philosophy everywhere, but the point is, make sure each essay can stand alone and doesn’t need another essay to tell the full story.

Good to know! I guess it’ll be interesting to see how things play out.

For my common app, it was gonna be less focused on the injury itself and more focused on the journey to discovering a completely different passion. I know sports essays are common but I was hoping mine would stick out with some of the details and things I was gonna include.

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This makes sense. Some, like IU, don’t even require the common. But has their own.

In general topics that are too common should be avoided. There’s always exceptions but do you want to take that chance ?

That said I didn’t realize sports was one of these but makes sense.

I think it’s fine to write about your intended major as part of a personal journey. Also I personally think that the effort to be “unique” is responsible for some terrible essays. Be yourself and stick to your guns if a certain topic is meaningful to you. It’s all in how you write it.


Unique doesn’t have to mean weird or wacky. By unique, I mean something specific to the applicant and his/her experiences, a story that no one else could tell. I also don’t mean a sweeping epic tale. I prefer small stories that can reveal a lot about the person.

I think that your essay is more than a sports essay - it’s about your having to give up on one passion, due to an injury, and pivoting to another (former) interest - music. I like it. I don’t see it as a sports essay. I see it as a resilience essay, that also tells about what you love, what you intend to study, and why.

I also like the quadruplet supplemental essay. Late adolescence is about establishing one’s own, unique identity (as opposed to early adolescence’s issue of fitting in with the group, socially). But how many people in the world go through this issue as a quadruplet? I mean, come on, all of us singletons wonder what it would be like to be a twin, especially an identical one. How much more so would we wonder about being a triplet, or a quadruplet? I think that this would be a fascinating supplemental topic about establishing one’s individual identity in a very unique setting. Go for it!


Thanks!! I’ll stick with these topics then.