Many of the students I work with have finished their core essays for their college applications, and are now asking for help on the supplements. For most, writing their personal statement-type essays wasn’t that bad, searching for their stories and unique topics to tell and share. But these supps are not nearly as fun. In fact, for most of the supplements I have seen so far, it’s a major drag.
So I ask: What’s the point? These supplements that want students to tell why they are the perfect fit for their school, or what they are going to give back to a university, or why they have selected a certain college. Most of my students tell me, “I have no idea what to write.” And why should they? Answering these questions is almost always an exercise in making up a bunch of stuff.
I wrote a post trying to help students brainstorm ideas for these types of “Why You, Why Here?” supps: Read the Web sites, visit if you can, find details/programs that line up with your interests, etc. But most kids churn out the same, predictable dribble. (It also doesn’t seem quite fair that the lucky students who could afford to visit their dream schools had the most to say.)
This is why I was so heartened to read this article yesterday about one fine liberal arts school, Kenyon College, that decided to drop its supps. (So have some other schools, including Trinity, Middlebury and Colby.) Here’s a snippet from the article:
Previously, (Kenyon) Admissions posed three supplemental questions for applicants to answer. One of them was Kenyon-specific and asked what students thought made them a good match for the College.
“That was such a vanity question, you know. Tell us about ourselves,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jennifer Delahunty said. “They had to go do some false research and then they had to sort of spit back to us what we put on our website, which we saw a lot of,” she added.
Way to tell it like it is, Jennifer! I know I am on the fringe of this whole admissions industry, but I would just suggest that schools that want to keep these supps at least ask questions that students can answer in a true and meaningful way. In my opinion, they could all ask that brilliant prompt from Stanford: Write a note to your future roommate…
Kenyon College actually had two other supps that had creative questions. I’m not sure why they ditched those as well. And as you can read in this post from their student newspaper, at least some of the students there weren’t happy about it either. I did notice, however, that no one was bemoaning the missing “Why Are You a Match” supp…