williams supplemental essays
62 Center for Theatre & Dance, Williamstown MA” by John Phelan | CC BY 3.0.

Williams Supplemental Essays 2023-24

Located around 3 hours west of Boston in Williamstown, MA, Williams College is a small, private, liberal arts college. Williams College is known for its small campus and rigorous academics.  With the Williams acceptance rate currently at 9%, strong Williams supplemental essays can make a major difference in the admissions process.  The Williams supplemental essays work a little differently than those at many other colleges, providing a unique opportunity for students to demonstrate their writing skills. 

The Williams essay is not based on a specific prompt. Instead, it invites students to submit an academic paper alongside their application. This Optional Writing Supplement gives students the opportunity to share an example of academic writing with the Williams admissions office. There are no formal Williams essay prompts; instead, the only personal statement Williams will receive is your Common App essay. In this way, the Williams College supplemental essay stands out. 

Understanding the Williams supplemental essays

Unlike other schools with defined prompts, the Williams College supplemental essays invite students to share any piece of academic writing 3-5 pages long. The paper can be creative or analytical, and it can cover any topic. Williams accepts both the Common App and the Coalition App, and you can submit the paper through either application. The Williams essay can be a great opportunity to highlight an academic interest or demonstrate your analytical skills. 

The Williams College supplemental essay can feel intimidating, especially if you aren’t sure what to submit. While the Williams supplemental essays are optional, we recommend taking advantage of the chance to demonstrate your writing skills. The Williams essay can help the admissions officers get to know you better. It can also let you showcase your passions and academic interests. If you’re feeling stuck on the Williams supplemental essays, this guide will detail the best ways to approach this unique prompt.

Williams Essay Quick Facts:

Williams Acceptance Rate: 9%

Essay Requirements for Williams: No essay required, though students have the option to submit an academic paper alongside application. Students should also submit the Common App essay. 

Williams College Application: According to the Williams admissions website, the following are required for first-year applicants before the application deadline: 

  • School Report
  • Counselor Recommendation
  • Two Teacher Recommendations
  • Mid-Year Report (Due February 8* or for schools on a trimester, when 2nd trimester grades are available)
  • $65 Application Fee or Fee Waiver
  • Early Decision Agreement Form (Early Decision applicants only)

Williams College is also test-optional, meaning students do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores. Additionally, Williams College is a Questbridge partner, so students may be able to match via their process. If you want to learn more about Questbridge, read our guide here.  Additionally, if you have questions about the application process, you can connect with the Williams College admissions office.

Williams Application Deadlines

  • Early Decision: November 15th 
  • Regular Decision: January 8th 
  • Transfer: March 1st 

Williams College Supplemental Essay Tip: Try to submit an academic paper in the area you plan to study. This can help the admissions officers understand your experience and interest in your intended major. The Williams supplemental essays allow you the unique opportunity to showcase your talents and academic passions. So, choose an academic paper that reflects your goals and interests. 

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website. 

Does Williams College have supplemental essays?

williams supplemental essays

The Williams essay is unique in that it is not a traditional supplemental essay. Unlike at other schools, the Williams College supplemental essay is optional and does not follow a prompt. Rather, the Williams supplemental essays are academic papers submitted by students for review. 

In the past, the Williams essay prompts followed the more traditional supplemental essay format, asking students to write a community essay. However, the Williams essay has changed in recent years. 

The Williams College supplemental essay requirement asks students to submit a 3-5-page academic paper on a topic of their choice. The paper does not need to be graded and can be creative or analytical. As part of the Williams essay prompts, students must also submit an explanation of the assignment or prompt. 

The Williams supplemental essays allow students to showcase their analytical and academic writing skills. While the Williams essay is optional, given the competitive Williams acceptance rate, you should plan to submit a Williams College supplemental essay. 

Williams Essay Requirements

There is no formal Williams essay requirement—students can submit their Williams application without submitting the Williams supplemental essays. Williams College will also receive your Common App essay, although it is not technically a formal requirement for your application. 

While there is no Williams essay requirement, we encourage students to submit a Williams College supplemental essay to help boost their admissions odds.

With the Williams admissions process as competitive as it is, students should think carefully about their Williams College application essay. The Williams supplemental essays allow admissions officers to understand your academic interests. Additionally, the Williams essay lets you showcase a piece of work that you’re proud of and demonstrate your academic writing skills. This means you should take the Williams supplemental essays seriously, even if they are not required for the Williams College application. 

Your Williams College supplemental essay can help you stand out in the application process. In many ways, the Williams supplemental essays can provide more insight into a student’s writing ability than traditional essay prompts. The more information you can give to admissions officers, the better. They want to know your academic interests and your writing abilities. You should take advantage of this great opportunity to share something you’re proud of.

Personal Statement vs. Academic Paper

williams supplemental essays

Through the college application process, you will encounter different supplemental essay prompts. While the Williams College application essay is an academic paper, you’ll likely have to write a personal statement such as the Common App essay. Additionally, you’ll also complete supplemental essay prompts for many other colleges. We’ll detail the difference between the personal statement and academic paper and the best way to approach both. 

You’ll likely complete your personal statement by responding to one of the Common App essay prompts. Different schools may also require a separate personal statement in addition to the Common App essay. So, it’s important to be prepared to write both. The personal statement is meant as an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and your academic goals to college admissions officers. A well-crafted personal statement should highlight who you are and how you’ll make the most of your college experience, often through the use of a compelling story or anecdote. 

Prior Williams essay prompts were structured more like a personal statement. Specifically, these essay prompts were a classic “community essay,” asking how students would enrich the Williams community. However, the current Williams essay portion comprises only the academic paper and personal statement.

Writing a personal statement

The personal statement can be hard to tackle, especially if you’re not familiar with writing about yourself. It’s important to think through why you’re applying to college and what you hope to achieve during your undergraduate career. Consider your high school experience – what clubs, classes, and experiences inform who you are today? Is there something that you’re really proud of that you want to make sure colleges know about?  What do you think has prepared you for college? Figuring out the best way to communicate who you are and what you want to accomplish can take some time. So, be sure to start brainstorming early.

Academic papers and college admissions

The academic paper, on the other hand, is not a straightforward introduction to colleges; in fact, it has little to do with the admissions process at all. Your academic paper, moreover, will likely not contain many personal details about you. 

In 2023, Williams supplemental essays are academic papers. While they may not provide as much outright information about you, they still play a major role in the admissions review process. 

The academic paper allows colleges to see what kind of academic writing skills you have. It also highlights what disciplines you’re interested in. Your paper can help showcase your analytical or creative writing skills, giving admissions officers the chance to see your intellectual curiosity in action. Additionally, the academic paper is a chance for you to show off—is there a paper that you’re super proud of? 

You can consult with your teachers on which paper to submit as well. This can provide you with some additional feedback on your Williams college application. 

Overall, both the personal statement and academic paper help admissions officers get to know you better, but in very different ways. As an academic paper, the Williams College supplemental essay provides an insight to your analytical skills that is hard to capture in a personal statement. 

The college’s switch from formal Williams essay prompts to an academic paper highlights Williams’ emphasis on academic writing. If you’re looking for more help with your personal statement, you can read our How to Write Better Essays guide here. But now, let’s take a closer look at how to tackle the Williams College application essay.

If you’re considering applying to Williams, don’t forget to register for our webinar on Building Your College Applications Timeline!

Williams Supplemental Essays

The Williams College supplemental essay prompt can be found below: 

Williams does not require a writing supplement. However, some students feel they do their best writing in an academic context rather than through narrative pieces like admission applications. If you are interested in submitting an example of your academic writing, you may share a 3-5 page paper written in the last year. The paper may be creative or analytical, can cover any topic, and need not be graded. Please include a description of the assignment or prompt. Please do not submit lab reports.

Students can apply and submit this optional writing supplement using the Common Application, Apply Coalition with SCOIR or QuestBridge Application.

Rather than the traditional supplemental essay prompt, the Williams essay asks you to submit an academic paper of your choosing, between 3-5 pages. The Williams essay is unique in that it is optional. It also provides students an opportunity to display their academic writing skills. 

Many other colleges have direct prompts for students to answer. However, the Williams supplemental essays require students to decide which of their academic papers represent them best. This can be really difficult, so we’ve compiled some tips on how to pick your Williams College supplemental essay. 

1. Align the Williams essay with your major 

As the Williams College supplemental essay seeks to showcase your academic writing skills, you should submit an essay that reflects your interests. The Williams supplemental essays help admissions officers decide who may be a good fit for their campus. If you’re able to demonstrate your skills within your intended major, it can help you through the application process. If you haven’t chosen a major, your Williams College application essay can be a paper that you’re particularly proud of.

2. Incorporate any feedback you received 

The Williams College supplemental essay does not need to be graded. However, it can be helpful to review any feedback you initially received on the assignment or prompt. If you’re submitting a paper you worked on outside of school, make sure you have someone edit and provide feedback. Don’t hesitate to ask a trusted teacher in the relevant subject to review your essay. Your Williams essay should appear as polished and complete as possible.

3. Pick an essay you’d like to expand on 

It’s important that your Williams College supplemental essay communicates your passion for learning and commitment to studying your chosen topic. If there was a school assignment or project you loved, this may be a good choice for your Williams essay. You can also choose to expand on a past assignment for the Williams essay—try to take full advantage of the 3-5-page limit.

4. Consult your teachers 

Teachers can provide more than just feedback on the content of your essay. If you’re not sure what to submit for your Williams College supplemental essay, asking your teachers may help. They may be able to provide some guidance on your best work and advise which paper showcases your academic writing the best. If you’re asking one of your teachers for a college recommendation, they may also be able to help you pick your Williams essay.

5. Make sure it’s cohesive 

If you choose to submit part of a larger assignment for your Williams College supplemental essay, make sure your section is cohesive. Your Williams essay should have a beginning, middle, and end. This means you may have to edit your paper to make it a standalone Williams College application essay.  Focus on your overarching thesis and try to condense any extraneous information.

Does Williams College care about essays?

It’s hard to determine exactly how the Williams supplemental essays factor into the admissions process. With Williams College ranking #1 in National Liberal Arts Colleges, the Williams supplemental essays can help your application stand out. Your Williams College supplemental essay can help admissions officers get to know you better. Given the high Williams College ranking, it’s important to take full advantage of the Williams supplemental essays. 

williams supplemental essays

As the Williams College supplemental essay is optional, you may wonder when it would make sense to not submit one. The Williams supplemental essays are meant to help boost your application. So, if you’re not sure if your writing samples are strong, it may be smart to let other aspects of your application shine. 

For instance, if you have an art portfolio, it may be a good idea to include this on the Common App and skip the Williams College supplemental essay. If the bulk of your academic writing is the form of lab papers, it may make sense to communicate your accomplishments through your resume or Common App essay. Ultimately, every part of your application from essays to recommendations should shine a spotlight on some aspect of you.

Making the most of the Williams supplemental essays

Be sure to think through your options—any additional information you can provide will help your application paint a more holistic picture of you. The Williams supplemental essays are meant to help provide some context to your academic goals and accomplishments. However, they are not the only way to do this. If you’re on the fence about submitting a Williams supplemental essay, it can be helpful to read through your past assignments. You may find some inspiration and guidance in unlikely places. 

Overall, while the Williams College supplemental essay is not required, it can be a great addition to your application. The Williams supplemental essays are a great opportunity for you to showcase your passions and academic writing skills. As long as you start your application well before the deadline, you may be able to write a paper from scratch. That’s right, you can submit an all-new essay for your application. This can help you give Williams a clear picture of your academic interests and intellectual curiosity. 

How can I make my Williams College essays stand out?

williams supplemental essays

With the high Williams College ranking, it’s important that your Williams College supplemental essay helps you stand out in the admissions process. Choosing your Williams supplemental essays can be hard, but a well-written paper can make a huge difference in your admissions prospects. 

Submitting an academic paper is a unique supplemental essay prompt. So, it’s crucial that you choose your paper wisely. The Williams College supplemental essay can make a key difference in your admissions decision, especially given the school’s low acceptance rate.

It’s important that your supplemental essay communicates both your passion and academic understanding for a particular subject. This can be hard to do, but the clearer this comes across, the stronger the impact. The Williams supplemental essays help demonstrate a student’s academic abilities.  In other words, you should pick a paper that best shows your writing and analytical skills. A strong and clear academic paper that reflects your academic goals is the best way to stand out! 

If you are looking to learn more about Williams College and hear from the Williams Admissions team check out the video below:

Williams Supplemental Essays – 5 Takeaways

There’s a lot to consider when selecting your Williams College supplemental essay. Here are 5 key takeaways to think about as you approach the Williams supplemental essays:  

williams supplemental essays

5 Key Williams Supplemental Essays Takeaways

1. Strategize on whether to submit a paper

Keep in mind that the Williams supplemental essays are optional. However, we recommend that students take advantage of the opportunity that the Williams College supplemental essay offers. Before you decide to forego the supplemental essay, be sure to consult with teachers and advisors on your decision. There are instances where it may make sense to bypass the supplemental essay, but you should think carefully. 

2. Foreground your academic writing abilities

The purpose of the Williams supplemental essays is to highlight your academic writing skills. Make sure the paper you select showcases your analytical or creative writing abilities. This is the best way to show Williams College what you’re capable of and to explain why you belong on their campus. Make sure to pick a writing sample that you feel best demonstrates your writing style and critical thinking. 

3. Highlight your passions 

The Williams College supplemental essay is a great way to showcase your academic prowess. Your essay should convey your passion for a specific subject and emphasize your intellectual curiosity. It should also show admissions officers that you’d be a great addition to the academic body of their campus. The Williams supplemental essays help admissions officers understand your academic passions, so be sure to pick a paper that reflects your goals. 

4. Revise, revise, revise

While the Williams supplemental essays do not need to be graded, it’s important that they are edited, proofread, and as polished as they can be. As the supplemental essay reflects your academic writing, you want to make sure that it represents the height of your abilities. Make sure that you incorporate any feedback you received from your teacher if your essay is a school assignment. Share your essay with teachers, mentors, and advisors as well – the more feedback you get, the better! 

5. Connecting your essay to your intended major can help  

A strong Williams College supplemental essay will help admissions officers envision you on the Williams campus. If you have a strong academic paper in the field of study your major is in, this can help add dimension to your overall profile. A strong essay in your chosen field can make your application more cohesive. It can also highlight your level of understanding and analytical skills within a specific major. 

Looking for more support on the Williams supplemental essays? Schedule a meeting with our team for one-on-one guidance on every aspect of the college application process. 

williams supplemental essays

This essay guide was written by senior advisor, Jess Klein. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.