33 Colleges Without Supplemental Essays
At many top schools, essays form a critical part of the college admissions process. Overwhelmingly, students find writing essays to be the most stressful part of the application process. So, when applying to multiple schools, many applicants look for colleges without supplemental essays. Colleges that don’t require essays allow students to focus on other aspects of their application like extracurriculars, test scores, or recommendation letters.
However, finding colleges that don’t require supplemental essays can be tedious. That’s why we’ve created a list of 33 colleges without supplemental essays to make the search easier.
Contrary to what you may have heard, you can find college application requirements without supplemental essays. Moreover, a lack of supplemental essay requirements doesn’t mean a university isn’t good.
This guide will help you find colleges without supplemental essays that meet your needs. In addition to discussing colleges that don’t require essays, we’ll also talk about other college application requirements. By the end of this article, you’ll be better prepared for the college application process.
What is a supplemental essay?
Before you start searching for colleges that don’t require supplemental essays, it’s important to understand what they actually are. Supplemental essays are extra essays that each school requires; some schools require only one, while others require several. They cover a range of prompts from the “why school” essay to the cultural diversity essay and more. Usually, supplemental essays are rather short, hovering in the 50-250-word limit range. They serve as an opportunity to showcase an applicant’s strengths, moments of personal growth, and personality.
It’s important to note that supplemental essays are different from the personal statement on the Common Application. The Common App essay prompts allow you to submit one personal statement to every college where you apply. In other words, you’ll almost certainly write this personal statement plus supplemental essays for each college on your list. You can also look up each school’s supplemental writing requirements on the Common App site.
There aren’t many colleges that don’t require essays at all. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any colleges that don’t require supplemental essays. With that said, most American universities have some essay requirements, even if they don’t ask for writing supplements.
Supplemental essays vs. Personal Statement
Often, top colleges without supplemental essays will require students to write a personal statement. Recall that supplemental essays vary in length and number of essays to complete depending on the school. In contrast, the personal statement is one essay that most schools have as a part of their college application requirements. However, both supplemental essays and the personal statement are important when it comes to creating an authentic application narrative.
The personal statement is a part of the Common Application. There are seven prompts to choose from, one of which is open, meaning you can write anything you’d like. The personal statement is longer than most supplemental essays at 650 words. While you’ll just write on one of these prompts, the others touch on common college essay topics. Don’t hesitate to brainstorm for a few of the Common App prompts, not just one.
Supplemental essays are usually shorter than the personal statement. School requirements will vary. While there are colleges without supplemental essays at all, others may have as many as six!
How many supplemental essays do college require?
While there are competitive colleges without supplemental essays, the majority of universities require at least one supplemental essay. However, the number of required supplemental essays will vary greatly.
For example, Northeastern University doesn’t have a writing supplement requirement on the Northeastern application. However, that doesn’t necessarily make the Northeastern application easier than other universities. Since it’s a top school, applicants will still need to do everything possible to make their Northeastern application stand out.
Unlike the Northeastern application, the University of Chicago has one required “why school” essay and various supplemental essay prompts to choose from. In total, students applying to UChicago will write two supplemental essays.
When it comes to the number of supplemental essays a school requires, there is no single answer. All schools will be different, so be sure to check each school’s individual application requirements on their admissions sites.
What kind of colleges require essays?
Generally, it is rare to find colleges that don’t require essays at all. While there are some colleges without supplemental essays, most still require students to submit the personal statement. Therefore, most colleges in the U.S. require essays in some form. Even if you’re applying through a different platform like UC Apply or the Coalition Application, you’ll have to write.
A better question might be: why do colleges require essays? The majority of universities’ admissions teams use a holistic evaluation process. That means that each of the college application requirements receives equal consideration. Your supplemental essay is an opportunity to share more about yourself with admissions. Successful college essay ideas will center on stories that show personal growth and self-reflection.
What are college application requirements?
If you’re looking for colleges without supplemental essays, then you’ll need to sift through each school’s requirements. Simply put, college application requirements are all the materials that applicants need for a complete application.
Here are some of the most common application requirements:
- Completed application via the specified application portal
- Basic biographical and demographic information
- Extracurricular activities
- Personal statement
- Application fee
- Counselor and/or Teacher letter(s) of recommendation
In the application, students will be able to add their essays. Keep in mind that each school’s college application requirements vary, so you should confirm specifics on their websites.
Do all colleges require supplemental essays?
Luckily for those who dread essay writing, there are colleges without supplemental essays. Soon, we’re going to provide you with a comprehensive list of well-known colleges that don’t require supplemental essays.
However, keep in mind that most schools do require students to complete the personal statement. So, for those who are hoping to find colleges that don’t require essays of any kind, it will be challenging. Nevertheless, students who have an extreme aversion to essay writing will find some top colleges without supplemental essays.
Why apply to colleges that don’t require essays?
There are a few reasons that students want to apply to colleges without supplemental essays. Some students may feel like the essays are too stressful. And while there are ways to manage that stress and write compelling essays, some students may just prefer not to.
However, probably the number one reason that students are intrigued by colleges without supplemental essays is time. Thinking of college essay ideas and writing essays is time-consuming. When you consider that some students apply to as many as 15 schools, it can feel overwhelming. Even adding just a few colleges that don’t require essays to your college list will lighten the burden.
Additionally, there are many competitive colleges without supplemental essays. Just remember: if you apply to colleges without supplemental essays, make the rest of your application as competitive as possible. It certainly isn’t an excuse to slack on your application narrative. In fact, with colleges that don’t require essays, you must pay extra attention to your demonstration of academic achievements and extracurricular involvement.
As stated above, colleges without supplemental essays usually still require a personal statement. However, this essay can be used for multiple schools. That is to say, once it’s written, you’re set for all of your applications to colleges without supplemental essays.
33 Best Colleges without Supplemental Essays
Finally, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Let’s check out some colleges without supplemental essays.
Top 33 Colleges without Essays
1. Colby College
This small liberal arts school in Waterville, Maine, is the first to make our list. As the 12th oldest liberal arts school in the US, Colby College has ample experience providing students with an intimate learning environment. If you’re interested in a liberal arts education from a small Northeastern University, then check out Colby’s application requirements.
2. Grinnell College
Students who attend Grinnell are encouraged to “pursue passions with purpose.” While it may seem surprising that such a school numbers among colleges that don’t require essays, take advantage of it and apply! Grinnell College is consistently a high-ranking liberal arts school. Here, students are encouraged to create a course of study that best supports their intellectual freedom.
3. Middlebury College
Another of the many liberal arts colleges without supplemental essays on our list is Middlebury College. Located in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, the natural beauty will inspire your learning as a natural laboratory is just outside. Its acceptance rate is 13%, so you’ll need an impeccable application in the absence of supplemental essays.
4. Colgate University
Located in New York state, Colgate University provides its students with a high quality liberal arts education. Like all others on our list, the Colgate application doesn’t include supplemental essays. There are 56 majors for students to choose from. Colgate values a curious mind, so be sure to show your curiosity in your Colgate application. Check out what you need to complete your Colgate application.
5. Temple University
This is the first public research university on our list of colleges without supplemental essays. Temple University has 17 schools and colleges in which to study, but an emphasis is placed on experiential learning. Given Temple’s location in the heart of North Philadelphia, students will have all the opportunities that the city provides.
6. Oberlin College
The one-of-a-kind education provided by Oberlin College allows students to explore both academics and the arts. Indeed, the Oberlin College ranking across metrics speaks for itself: the Oberlin College ranking in national liberal arts colleges is #39. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Oberlin College ranking in Most Innovative Schools is #16. Of course, the Oberlin College ranking isn’t everything. But, the Oberlin College ranking does speak to the school’s quality, unique liberal arts education. For Oberlin College (not the conservatory) no supplemental essay is needed.
7. Case Western Reserve University
There are hundreds of programs at Case Western Reserve for students to pursue. However, overall, the student population is committed to making a difference, with education a stepping stone to an impactful career. In addition to being one of our colleges without supplemental essays, Case Western Reserve is also test-optional through fall 2024.
8. Bates College
The Bates way is all about “aligning who you are with what you do.” Students will be a part of a community with values such as social responsibility and diversity and inclusion. Check out the requirements for what it takes to be a part of this unique campus. Keep in mind that the Bates College acceptance rate is quite competitive. In fact, the Bates College acceptance rate is considered most selective at 17%. So, although Bates is among the colleges that don’t require essays, the Bates College acceptance rate means intense competition for admittance.
9. Northeastern University
This well-known university in Boston, Massachusetts, is among the most competitive colleges without supplemental essays with an 18% acceptance rate. Experiential learning and research are among the core parts of a Northeastern University education. If you’re interested in innovation and impact, then see what you need to apply.
10. Hampshire College
It may be unsurprising that Hampshire College, the self-proclaimed “original disruptors of higher education,” is among the colleges that don’t require essays. Hampshire believes that their radical education experience leads to greater impact. This is a community that values experimentation, discovery, and investigation in a non-traditional manner. If that sounds up your alley, take a look at their application requirements.
11. DePaul University
This large private university in Chicago, Illinois, is next on our list of colleges without supplemental essays. Faculty provide high-quality teaching in order to give their students the best educational experience. DePaul aims to provide an experience that combines “mind, place, people, and heart.”
12. Drexel University
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University is arguably one of the best colleges without supplemental essays. It’s nationally recognized for its co-op experience. This learning model allows all students to have ample hands-on experience in their field of interest before even graduating. Drexel admissions may not seem super competitive with an acceptance rate of 83%. However, that doesn’t mean you should slack on the application. Impressing Drexel admissions could lead to scholarships, which are also an extremely important part of the college application process.
13. Kenyon College
This college may not be a household name, but they’ve played a huge part in the model of faculty advising nationwide. In fact, according to Kenyon College, they invented it. So you can imagine the quality attention the learning experience that students will receive here.
14. Dillard University
Louisiana’s first private liberal arts HBCU makes our list of colleges without supplemental essays. The undergraduate population is around 1,200, making it a small school. At Dillard, students can expect personalized attention and a tight-knit campus community. After applying and being accepted, students will have 22 majors to choose from.
15. Skidmore College
Creative thinking is at the heart of Skidmore’s education model. Located in Saratoga Springs, New York, this private university offers students an excellent education in a bucolic college town. At Skidmore College, students are encouraged to explore a variety of educational interests as all majors are interdisciplinary.
16. Ohio State University
Located in Columbus, Ohio—the fastest-growing metropolitan in the Midwest—Ohio State University places an emphasis on improving local and global communities. In fact, they have contribution efforts in every county in Ohio. And, with six campuses throughout the state, students can choose which location will best serve them.
17. Louisiana State University
As a leading research university in Baton Rouge, LSU is among the best colleges without supplemental essays. No matter their major, every student is able to participate in research opportunities. LSU’s emphasis on research is a crux of the community as it comes from a drive to improve the world.
18. University of Alabama
With over 100 areas of study in 8 schools and colleges, the University of Alabama provides students with ample options. At the University of Alabama, research is highly valued, but students are ultimately encouraged to pursue their passions. Check out the freshman requirements to learn more about applying.
19. University of Cincinnati
Another large public research university makes our list of colleges without supplemental essays. UC has excellent co-op and internship programs from which students can gain practical professional experience while studying. University of Cincinnati students will gain an excellent education and hands-on experience.
20. Clemson University
Clemson admissions prides itself on the university’s tireless work ethic. Through this, they encourage their students to “change lives, change perceptions, and…to change the world.” Students willing to work hard to achieve their future goals should check out the application requirements. Clemson admissions falls in the middle when it comes to selectivity. The Clemson admissions rate is 49%. Logically, we can see from the Clemson admissions rate that nearly half the students that apply will gain admittance.
21. University of Pittsburgh
Located in the heart of the city, the University of Pittsburgh is among the top colleges without supplemental essays. This large public university focuses on innovation as a path to positive change. With a prime location, students are encouraged to take advantage of all that the university and city have to offer.
22. Wesleyan University
Forming students to be “intellectually agile” is a huge part of the Wesleyan curriculum. With 45 majors to choose from, students are encouraged to take advantage of the large range of available courses. Additionally, there are over 5,000 internships opportunities available starting from your first year on campus.
23. Miami University
You may have seen this school ranking in the top 50 public universities in the US. There’s certainly no doubt that Miami University in Ohio is one of the best colleges without supplemental essays. With many dynamic undergraduate programs available, students will be able to pursue a wealth of careers in their chosen fields. An active student body helps in forming a strong campus community in a location brimming with natural beauty.
24. University of Connecticut
As a large university with a rural location, the UConn campus community is like a small town of its own. Students can enjoy a wide range of study options, ample student organizations and clubs, and renowned leaders as faculty members. Learn more about the application requirements.
25. University of Delaware
The beautiful campus and experienced faculty of the University of Delaware provide for about 18,000 students. Through research, internships, and study abroad opportunities, students are encouraged to find their authentic way of changing the world.
26. Florida State University
FSU is one of the best value colleges without supplemental essays. Students here are intellectually curious, academically driven, and socially conscious. The FSU experience is centered around providing students with the tools to achieve their goals.
27. University of Georgia
Even though this is a large university, students are seen as “the individual they are.” The University of Georgia is committed to accessibility and inclusion. Additionally, 92% of the university’s graduates are employed or continuing their studies within six months of graduation.
28. University of Houston
As the third largest university in Texas, the University of Houston is one of our top colleges without supplemental essays. As a diverse campus community, the university aims to change lives and communities for the better. It emphasizes discovery and conversation as a foundation for students’ development.
29. Indiana University – Bloomington
The possibilities are endless when you study at Indiana University Bloomington. Students will gain hands-on experience in their field either in the lab or on the ground. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to learn from faculty who are renowned in their discipline.
30. University of Kansas
There is certainly no lack of options when studying at the University of Kansas. There are over 400 degree and certificate programs to choose from spread out over 14 schools. Innovation, research, and the pursuit of knowledge are pillars of the UK educational experience.
31. University of Kentucky
Another UK makes our list of colleges that don’t require supplemental essays. The University of Kentucky offers over 200 degree programs in 16 schools. One of the university’s main values is finding ways to advance Kentucky—from education, to health, economy, and culture— to ensure its progress.
32. University of Massachusetts Amherst
Located in an ideal college town, UMass Amherst is the largest public research university in New England. The school offers over 110 majors on campus. In addition, students are encouraged to be curious explorers through study abroad opportunities.
33. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
This large university with a city campus encourages students to discover the unknown. Whether it’s through internships or research opportunities, students are challenged to pursue their interests and push their academic limits. Learn more about the application requirements to get started.
As you review this list, please note that college essay requirements are subject to change. With this in mind, make sure to visit each school’s admissions website to confirm all supplemental essay requirements.
It may seem alluring to apply only to these colleges that don’t require essays. However, keep in mind that these institutions place more importance on GPA and extracurriculars. So, when considering applying to schools without supplemental essays, think about these factors. Will your application narrative be impactful to admissions teams without additional essays? Will your personality and values shine through?
What is the best school that doesn’t require supplemental essays?
Looking at the acceptance rates of the colleges that don’t require essays, we can determine which schools are the most selective. In this case, Colby College (9%), Grinnell College (11%), and Middlebury College (13%) have some of the most selective acceptance rates. However, the Bates College acceptance rate also makes it quite selective. In fact, the Bates College acceptance rate is similar to that of Northeastern University.
The best colleges without supplemental essays will vary depending on what you’re looking for. So, how can you determine your top colleges without supplemental essays? Well, when making your college list you should consider factors such as majors, location, size, and campus culture. This will help you focus your college search on a few key criteria.
Firstly, make a list of what you want in your university. For example, do you want to go to school in a large city? Are internship or co-op programs important to you? Is your major available, and are you intrigued by its curriculum? Ideally, you want to be excited imagining yourself on a college’s campus. As you think about your college list priorities, you’ll be better able to identify which university is best for you. In fact, you may have already started by determining you want to look at colleges that don’t require essays!
College Application Requirements: Beyond Essays
Coming up with college essay ideas might be one of the biggest stressors in the college application process. And yet, there is certainly much more to completing an application than just essays. Colleges that don’t require essays still have other requirements that applicants will need to send by the school’s application deadlines.
For example, let’s look at Colby admissions, which features on our list of colleges that don’t require essays. The Colby admissions site states the application requirements are the completed application, academic records, and financial aid application. Non-native English speakers may also be required to submit a language proficiency certification.
Additionally, there are optional materials you can add to enhance your application, which vary from school to school. Colby accepts standardized test scores, additional recommendation letters, an arts supplement, and an “elevator pitch” video.
Of course, these are just application requirements outlined by Colby admissions. Drexel admissions, Clemson admissions, and any other college admissions office will have other—often similar—application requirements. When comparing colleges to add to your college list, these requirements will likely be an important factor.
Students can usually count on the following materials being required during the application process:
- Completed application
- Academic records
- Teacher/counselor letters of recommendation
- Language proficiency exam (where applicable)
Many schools are continuing test-optional policies first instated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some do require standardized testing scores as well. Always check the admissions site for the application requirements and deadlines. For example, Colby and Drexel admissions have slight differences in their requirements, even though they’re both colleges that don’t require essays. Always confirm requirements on admissions websites!
How to make your college application stand out!
Even when applying to colleges that don’t require essays, you still need to carefully craft a compelling application narrative. Creating a cohesive application narrative or personal brand during the college application process can be tricky. Ideally, your application should tell the story of who you are and what drives you, both academically and personally. You’ll show this through your grades, courses, achievements, and extracurricular activities.
Regardless of other college essay ideas you need, you will need to write the Common App personal statement. This is the only significant writing the admissions teams will see from applicants at colleges that don’t require essays. In light of that, it needs to be an excellent example of your writing skills while also demonstrating your personality.
The Common App provides students with a few college essay topics to choose from. In order to generate the best college essay ideas, choose to write on college essay topics that genuinely excite you. While brainstorming, make a list of college essay ideas from the given college essay topics. Think about anecdotes, meaningful experiences, and personal growth that pertain to the college essay topics. Successful college essay ideas lead to authentic essays, which is the key in standing out to admissions.
Essay Guides and Essay Resources
As we’ve mentioned, even when applying to colleges that don’t require essays, most applicants must complete the personal statement. Don’t stress about coming up with college essay ideas on your own! CollegeAdvisor.com provides ample free resources for students at every step of the college application process—including the essays.
Unfortunately for those aiming to apply to colleges that don’t require essays of any kind, most require the personal statement. The best way to generate college essay ideas is by reading successful essay examples. Check out some of these Common App essay examples to understand what works. And, before even worrying about college essay ideas, learn more about the Common App essay in this article. We’ll outline the most important factors when writing this essay.
If you’re reading this, you probably want to apply to colleges that don’t require essays. However, don’t let that limit you in the college application process. If you love a school, but they require supplemental essays, keep it on your list. Don’t let a disdain for essays keep you from attending your dream school.
CollegeAdvisor has many school-specific essay guides covering everything from college essay ideas to revising that final draft. Check out our USC, Yale, UChicago, and many more college-specific supplemental essay guides. If you’re stuck on thinking up college essay ideas, then these guides are a good place to begin.
Colleges Without Supplemental Essays – Final Thoughts
Without a doubt, supplemental essays are one of the most stressful parts of the college application process for many students. From choosing college essay topics to generating college essay ideas and actually writing essays, there’s a lot of effort involved.
However, as you can see from this article, there are many colleges that don’t require essays. So, if you’re crunched for time or feel overwhelmed by needing various impactful college essay ideas, you have options. It’s never a bad idea to add some schools that don’t require essays to your college list.
Keep in mind, though, that you’ll most likely still need to write the personal statement essay. But one essay is better than six. And, remember that CollegeAdvisor can provide personalized attention for anything from brainstorming college essay ideas to applying for financial aid. Reach out if you’d like some guidance in your college application process. Otherwise, take advantage of our large library of free resources!
This article was written by Sarah Kaminski. 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.