When the Common Application came along with the premise of making the college application process easier than the many individual applications for each college, students and teachers rejoiced.
That was then….
NOW, most colleges seem to have 3 or 4 of their own supplemental essays in addition to what’s asked on the Common Application. Why? Because they DO want to know more about you such as why are you applying to their school and what has been your most meaningful activity in high school (a prior question on the old Common App).
Some schools however, are bucking the supplemental essay trend and relying only on the Common Application. Why? Well, maybe because they’d like a LOT more applicants so they can have a more qualified pool from which to select. With no supplemental essays students might thing, “SURE, I’ll just throw one in because it’s easy.”
Or, maybe colleges just want a lot more applicants so they can reject more and their acceptance rates will go down making them appear more prestigious. Perhaps they don’t have the manpower to handle them all or maybe they’re just trying to make your life as a student a smidge easier during a tumultuous and stressful time. Whatever the case may be there are many great schools that don’t require supplemental essays.
If you are a senior, now is the time to get your college application essays done before senior year work ramps up. It can be overwhelming because many schools have supplements that have students addressing upwards of seven random essays IN ADDITION to the essay on the Common Application.
Some students, especially those late to the admissions game, will inquire about schools that don’t require supplemental essays simply for sake of ease as they’re running out of time. Regardless of why YOU want to know which schools don’t require any extra essays, we’ve got you covered. See below sample schools that don’t require extra essays this year.
SAMPLE LIBERAL ARTS SCHOOLS WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS
SAMPLE UNIVERSITIES WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS
Many colleges typically want more than what the Common App asks applicants and we definitely work with our students to craft a proactive approach to all those ‘extra’ essays. Whether your target list of schools requires supplemental essays or not, we’re here to help you share your voice, your vision and your true scholarly selves to the college admissions world.
Correction appended, November 14.
Parents: sit down before you read this. Kids: deep breaths. You know that beautifully crafted, deeply felt, highly unusual college application essay you’ve been polishing? It might not make a difference for your college admission chances.
Stanford sociologist Mitchell Stevens spent 18 months embedded with admissions officers at an unnamed top-tier liberal arts college and found that, even in cases where students were within the admissible range in terms of scores and grades, officers rarely looked to the personal essays as a deciding factor. He wrote about his experience for The New Republic, and here’s the most interesting part:
The good news? Three former admissions officers I spoke to told me that, contrary to Steven’s observations, officers read every essay that comes across their desks. “We definitely read the essays,” says Joie Jager-Hyman, president of College Prep 360 and former admissions officer at Dartmouth College. “You don’t do that job unless you enjoy reading the essays. They’re kind of fun.” Elizabeth Heaton, senior director of educational counseling at admissions-consulting firm College Coach, and former admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania, says she took notes on every single piece of writing a student submitted, whether she advocated for them or not.
The bad news? No matter how gorgeous your prose is, you can’t get into college based on the strength of your essay alone. “No-one ever gets into college because you write a great essay,” Heaton says. “You can not get in because you write a really bad one.”
And even Joan Didion herself wouldn’t get into college on her writing skills if she had lackluster grades or scores. The officers told me they did sometimes look to the essays to explain weaknesses in the application (like if there was a year of bad grades that coincided with an illness,) but they said that kind information was usually best kept in the “additional information” section of the application.
Some officers recalled moments when they were so moved by an essay that they advocated for the student to be admitted despite other weaknesses on the application, but none had ever recalled a time where that strategy had worked. “There were a couple of incidents were I really wanted to admit a student and recommended that they move forward because their writing and personal qualities were so interesting, but I was not successful,” says Shoshana Krieger, a counselor for Expert Admissions who formerly worked in the admissions office at the University of Chicago and at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. “There are certain cases where if a student is simply too far off academically, it’s then just not going to make a difference.”
“I never saw a phenomenal essay suddenly make up for everything” Heaton agreed. “These days, there’s just so little wiggle room to be able to make that call.” She also noted that it looks suspicious when a kid with mediocre grades and scores submits a spectacular essay, and raises doubts that the student might not have written it herself.
Later in his piece, Steven notes that the college essay may be more of a psychological outlet than a practical asset in the college application process, since it’s one of the only things that’s still in the applicant’s control during the fall of their senior year (most of their transcript and scores are already behind them.) Joie Jager-Hyman said she agreed with that assessment. “There’s so much anxiety right now in the air,” she said. “It’s the thing they feel like they have power over.” She also noted that focus on the essay could help kids become better writers in the long-run, even if it might not necessarily make or break their college admissions chances, and “that’s not totally a bad thing.”
So even if all the revising and nitpicking on the college essay may not help your kid get into college, it will almost certainly make him or her a better writer. So don’t put away that red pen yet.
Correction: The original version of this post misstated the location of Trinity University in Texas. It is in San Antonio.