University of Chicago Supplemental Essays Workshop
Ready to write and edit your supplemental essays for University of Chicago? Get tips and tricks with CollegeAdvisor.com.
Former Admissions Officer Chelsea Holley will share her insider knowledge on how to write your supplemental essays during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including:
- What are the UChicago supplemental essay prompts?
- When can I do to write a great supplemental essays?
- How long should I spend writing and editing my supplemental essays?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-12-21 – University of Chicago Supplemental Essays Workshop
Hi everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Webinar on University of Chicago Supplemental Essays Workshop. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start up with a presentation, then answer your questions on a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download your slides and you can start to meet your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelist. Thank you McKenzie. Hello everyone. My name is Chelsea Holley, and I serve as an admissions advisor here at CollegeAdvisor. My role at CollegeAdvisor is to provide a voice for the admissions committee and give our clients an insight into what people are looking for as they are reading your applications.
I’ve spent a little over 10 years working in college admissions. I’ve worked for a number of institutions including small liberal arts, private institutions, large state flagships, women’s colleges so a really robust set of schools. But today we’re gonna be talking a little bit about U Chicago specifically.
But what I’d like for you to take from today’s session is that all of these tips can be applied to all of the schools on your college list. So we are focusing on U Chicago, but I encourage you to think more broadly across the schools that you’re interested. Yes. And real quick, we’re just gonna do a poll.
So what grade are you currently in? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th or other? Another can be if you’re a gap year student or a transfer, and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your student is going into. And while we wait for that, Chelsea, can you tell us where can students find the individual supplements for U Chicago? Absolutely. So they are listed on the U Chicago admission site. They can change each year. So if you are not currently a senior, You will have to check back in order to get the supplements for next year or any, any years that are upcoming. But we are also going to go over the current U Chicago supplements in this session.
So we’ll go over which ones are current for this app cycle. Yes. And also if you’re using the common app, you can find them by adding U Chicago to your my colleges page. And then when you click. School itself, it should pull up a section that says writing supplements, and then you can find the additional information there.
And as well as with every other school that has supplements and it’s looking like we have interesting spread, actually 8% ninth graders, 38% 10th graders, another 38% 11th graders and 15% 12th graders. And you can control the sides. Thanks McKenzie. Very cool. So we have a couple seniors that might be using tonight’s session to get started on their supplemental essay writing, or maybe they’ve already submitted and are doing a little bit of a gut check.
But it’s really exciting to know that we have ninth and 10th graders that are already thinking ahead. Again, I would keep your mind open and think of this as tips that can go across supplemental. U Chicago is just a really fun institution to use as case studies. So tonight the learning objectives.
We will talk about what are the U Chicago application requirements. We’ll also talk about some general tips on how to write a strong supplemental essay. And then we’ll also go over what are some common mistakes found in writing. And then at the end we’ll have some time. I will go over. Specific U Chicago essay that worked and that an admitted student has shared for us to review and have conversation around.
And I will kind of point out some of the things that really, really worked about that essay.
So a quick overview of the U Chicago application process. There are four different decision cycles or application plans that students can enter. If you are a current senior, two of those application cycles and application deadlines have already passed. So the early action deadline is behind us.
The early Decision one deadline is also behind us. But you still have two other plans that have deadlines in January that you could shoot for. So early Decision two is also a binding decision similar to ED one. But early Decision two just gives you a little bit more time to decide if U Chicago is your number one.
And if you applied ED anywhere else, you probably have heard back if you did not get such thrilling news and you’d like to move U Chicago to your ED school, that is another reason students might look at ED two. And then finally, regular decision. Regular decision is typically your final application deadline for any school.
Regular decision is typically a non-binding agreement. They typically notify students sometime in Spring. And it is the largest application pool. So if you are waiting to regular decision that is absolutely fine. You are in the company of the majority of applicants so don’t fill behind the curb.
So you’re able to apply for U Chicago on either the coalition app or the Common app. You may find that there are a longer list of schools on the common application but the coalition app is very similar, where you fill out one set of basic information about u s. Student and you’re able to use one platform to apply to multiple institutions.
For those of you that are ninth graders on the call, or anyone that is unfamiliar with either the coalition app or the Common App, they are amazing tools to allow you to apply to schools from one website. So if you wanna learn more about either of those, I definitely check, would check out both the Common App website and the coalition app website.
Your school counselor will also know exactly what you’re talking about if you mentioned the Common app and they can help give you some more information. The Common App also has some small profiles of institutions, so you can get some basic information about the college that you’re interested in.
You could also find some basic information about U Chicago. And links to all of their admission sites from the common app. So let’s talk about what a complete application looks like for the University of Chicago. So they require your completed common app or coalition app, so some of that basic demographic information about you as a student.
They also require a personal statement. This is a requirement across the common application. And so each year, the common app release five or so prompts that you can choose from in order to create your personal essay or your personal statement. These are typically a 500 to 650 word essay, so that’s pretty standard across applications.
After that, you’d wanna compile an activities list. This is everything that you have done outside of being a student. So any clubs or organizations that you’ve participated in at your high school or even in your community it is also wonderful to think outside of the box when we’re talking about activities.
So, did you babysit younger siblings? Did you have a hobby that you did in your free time at home? Maybe you’re an artist or a musician. Did you work? These are all things that you can put on your activities or extracurricular. Two recommendation letters. So U Chicago does ask for you to have two teacher recommendation letters.
It is super important that they are teachers and that they are high school teachers. There also are some guidelines around which subjects those recommendation letters should be from. A $75 fee or application fee waiver. If you have questions about an app fee waiver McKenzie can also drop some information about that in the chat.
Most institutions, even if they don’t offer application fee waivers internally, do accept waivers from organizations like College Board and NACAC. So don’t worry about the fee. You can always look into an app. and then drum roll. What we’re all here for is to talk a little bit about supplemental essays.
U Chicago has two required supplemental essays. One is more of a short answer question where they do give you some parameters around how long it should be. And then the second is the U Chicago extended essay. U Chicago is incredibly. in that they are notorious for provocative and exciting application essay prompts.
Each year in the summertime, the U Chicago admissions team polls admitted students from the previous classes and current students and allows them to submit creative essays. So it is literally in the spirit of U Chicago. So when you’re reading these essays the essays alone should give you a sense of the type of students that tend to enroll in U Chicago, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about in one second.
Once we get to those prompts. So I am going to go through six of the extended essay options. And we’re just going over the prompts now. You’ll have some opportunities to ask any questions a little later on. So what the number one prompt that we’ll review was inspired by Leah Beach, class of 2026 and two other students.
So was it a cat I. Japanese for the world is a warm. Polish for maybe tomorrow. That lady will give a cake to the hedgehogs. Share a palindrome in any language and give it a backstory. This is wide open. It gives an example, two examples of what a palindrome is, and then opens up for the student to be creative given an origin, maybe give it a culture that it comes from and expand on what exactly that means and how it came to.
The second U Chicago supplemental extended essay, what advice would a wisdom tooth have inspired by Melody Diaz class of 2025? So again, this is a pretty creative question. But essentially what they’re asking is what advice might you have. And how could you use a wisdom tooth to personify the advice that you might wanna give to fellow students, to humanity, to whoever.
So again, really wide open allows you to be creative. The third essay question, you are on an expedition to find to found a colony on Mars. When from a nearby crater, a group of martians suddenly emerges. They seem eager to communicate, but they’re the impatient kind in demand. You represent the human race in one song, image, memory, proof, or other idea.
What do you share with them to show that humanity is worth their time? This was submitted by three students as. So what would you share with them to show that humanity is worth their time? Again, the colony on Mars is a backstory of this question. This is an opportunity for you to talk about what is important to you as a student or as a person.
And you can share something meaningful that really brings that characteristic. The Fourth U Chicago essay, U Chicago has been affiliated with over 90 Nobel Lores. But why should economics, physics, and peace get all the glory you’re tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize? Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.
Again, an amazing opportunity for you to talk about something that you are passionate about. So, is it dance? Is it martial arts? These are moments for you to talk a little bit more about your interests and you can really make that come alive through this prompt.
Genghis Khan was an F1 race car, George Washington with a Super Soaker imperial narrow with a toaster Leonardo da Vinci with a Furby. If you could give any historical figure, any piece of technology, who and what would it be? And why do you think they’d work so well together? This is a great opportunity to flex some of your historical knowledge.
It’s a great opportunity to connect things or someone from the past with something that is cutting edge that they maybe didn’t have access to when they were alive. And I think it’s just a beautiful opportunity to bridge some really modern concepts with things that maybe you learned in high school or that are more classical in.
The sixth U Chicago essay. In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, and thought provo provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago.
Take a little. And have fun. This one is absolutely wide open, and this one typically is going to appear year after year as one of the options. Again, this gives you an opportunity to discuss what you want to discuss for your essay. Some of you may be knee-deep in college applications or have already begin writing essays.
if you have not begin writing essays and you haven’t read that many prompts, let me tell you, these are far more exciting than any essay prompts you are going to read for college. So I think instead of being intimidated by the U Chicago prompts, you should be absolutely excited because it really pushes you to show your personality and take some creative risk in your college application.
And I think sometimes students are concerned about being. Or being too out the box. Yuko is telling you, we want you to do that.
Yes. And now we’ll do a quick pause. So where are you in the college application process? Hold on, I need to finish typing thing. Okay. There we go. So where are you in the college application process? Haven’t started. I’m researching schools. I’m working on my s. Says, I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done.
And while we wait for those to roll in Chelsea, can you tell us when should students start the supplements and about how long should it take to complete?
Thanks McKenzie. So it’s never too early to start getting some themes and outlines together for your supplements. While a lot of these questions were pretty out there, there’s a lot of prep work that you can do. to prepare yourself with content for your essays. For example, activities that you’d like to write about your passions and interests, your background.
This is all these are all themes that you can start writing a paragraph here or there to get some content. For supplemental essays, I would say you could start as early as first semester of your junior year. I would say the sweet spot of when you really begin to know would be definitely. Summer of your junior year going into your senior year, and then you’re able to view all of the actual essay prompts as early as August 1st.
Yes. Every year the common app and the coalition app opens on August 1st and all of the schools application open on August 1st. And by open we mean that they release their supplements and anything else that they’ve changed about their application. The common app and coalition. Itself is open all the time and you can set up your account and everything, but to be able to see what your questions are for the year you’re applying, you have to wait until August 1st of your year that you’re applying.
So yeah, and it’s looking like we have 25% haven’t started. 45% are researching schools, 15% are working on their essays. 10% are getting their application materials together and 5% the lucky. You are almost done , and you can control the slides.
Okay. And then we have one last U Chicago essay to share. How does the University of Chicago, as you now know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning community and future? Please address with some specificity, your own wishes and how they relate to you. Chicago, this is your standard why college essay.
And if you all are not, Familiar with a why college essay. This is the institution asking you, why are you interested in our institution? We know we’re great, but why do you think we’re so great? Why would you be a good match for this college? This is a very, very popular. Essay format U Chicago does word it a bit differently but it is very common and you may have an opportunity to write a number of these for different colleges throughout your process.
We are going to go through an example of a student who responded to this prompt shortly.
So let’s talk a little bit about components of a strong supplemental essay. Absolutely starting out with an outline. So we don’t know where you are going with your essay unless you have a roadmap in order to guide you. If you think about college admissions committees, Reading applications. I like to think of them sometimes as HR directors reading job resumes or job applications.
They see a ton of applications in a short period of time, and the window of time in which they’re reviewing applications, it’s often all they’re doing from nine in the morning to 5:00 PM and sometimes later. So it’s incredibly important that you have an organized and concise application. Within that outline, you wanna really look for a theme, a topic or subject.
It should be something specific. It should be something narrow enough that students that those that are reading your essay are able to grasp what it is you’re talking about almost immediately, this seems like a low hanging fruit, but it should answer the prompt. This is incredibly important. You wanna make sure as you’re writing your essay that you are double checking that you are addressing whatever the prompt is.
Now some of the more creative U Chicago prompts that we just discussed are pretty wide open. There is no yes or no right or wrong answer, but as you’re reviewing your comment application some of those are more question like in their nature. As you’re looking at personal essays in your personal statement and maybe some other supplemental essays similar to the Why School essay, there’s a lot of why major.
Why exactly are you interested in this major? And that is a question. So you wanna make sure that you are giving the committee the information that they’re asking for. Grammar and structure in all around writing quality is incredibly important. Again, grammar, poor grammar is a distraction in this process.
So you wanna make sure that you have something that is clean and polished and really represents the best of who you are as a. And then lastly, displaying institutional fit. We just talked about the why college essay, in this case, why U Chicago. You do not have to have a why college prompt in order to tell an institution why you’re interested in them.
This is something that you can subtly embed into any essay prompt that you are answering. And the way to do that is to know the school that you’re applying to. This takes research, but this also takes genuine interest. So I talk to my students all the time and sometimes they compile these long list of schools and we get to the Why College essay.
They have a hard time answering that and I would say that’s a red flag. If you are struggling with how to answer the Why college essay, I encourage you to inve investigate why that college made it to your list. Was it just rankings? Was it some other superficial reason? Because you should be able to articulate in a number of ways why you’re interested and why you would be a good fit for that school.
That is what the admissions committees are looking for as they’re reviewing your application.
So solving some common mistakes don’t overly depend on Grammarly or any other autocorrect tools. That is probably my personal pet peeve. Reading essays Grammarly is an amazing tool that I wish was around when I was filling out college applications. But it’s not a real person. So there is an algorithm that runs Grammarly and a tone that they like to see.
And sometimes that tone is not in keeping with your natural voice as a writer. So it’s important to be grammatically correct, but also to honor who you are as a writer. The best way to do that is to get real people to proofread your work, preferably real people that. You that is a wonderful opportunity to what we call voice check your essay and voice check just means, does it sound like it’s me?
Does it have an authentic sound? Does my voice carry on through my essay and through my application? Do all of these things match? I would say at least two proofreaders, but tru. Anybody that you can get to read it, that you trust and that is qualified to review an essay, might be a good person to share your essay with.
Essays that are too broad. So I think students tend to have especially when there’s only one essay required they wanna fit everything that they wanna talk about their entire life story into an essay. And the best essays are actually really, really narrow. They use some narrow. object some moment in time, some memory to explore who they are as a person.
So you can give us a lot of insight without giving us a long story with many, many details that may not be relevant to the, to the essay prompt. And then lastly, authenticity always wins. Be very careful about sounding like some way you’re not in your essay, because that does read through to admissions committee members and they are able to pick up on that as they are reading your essay.
So it is incredibly important for you to be authentic and let your authentic interest and passions drive what you write about and how you write.
Okay. So we are going to tackle one of the University of Chicago essays. So question one again, this is the Why U Chicago essay. How does the University of Chicago, as you now know it, satisfy your desire for particular kind of learning community and future? I am gonna read through this entire essay and I encourage you to read along with, When I visited U Chicago, a friend invited me to step into her comparative literature class monstrosity and the monstrous, desperate for refuge from the cold as a Bay Area resident.
I had packed for the Chicago winner. I quickly obliged. I expected to silently observe, but when I mentioned that I read Antagon on, her professor was thrilled. He immediately invited me into the discussion. For an hour and a half, we weighed the pros and cons of civil disobedience. Did Antagon on actions per permanently destabilize tevis in the modern day?
When does protesting against a government cross the line was antagon justified in interpreting the will of the gods? And if so, would Sophocles. Support pardoning, well-intentioned criminals beyond the enthralling analysis of the play. I was captivated by the spirit of U Chicago, a campus that invites everyone, including a loitering high school student to contribute and develop their ideas.
Now it’s surreal to imagine taking the economics of crime from someone as renowned as Professor Levitt. I’ve been a fan since reading Freakonomics in staying after class to clarify the finer points of the latest Freakonomics podcast. I particularly enjoyed, speak softly and carry big data on using data analysis to perfect, to perfect foreign policy decision.
I hope to add to U Chicago’s legacy of pushing the boundaries of our economic understanding by participating in undergraduate research and perhaps put my findings to use through crafting social policy. For the Harris School’s public policy practicum prior to graduating, I’ll sample Taste of Future Careers through the Freed Public Policy and Service Program or the Trot Business program simultaneously, as someone who enjoys, conversing, and respectfully challenging ideas.
I look forward to immersing myself in the core curriculum and obtaining a strong foundation of knowledge above all, I appreciate that U Chicago teaches students how to think, encourages dialogue and prompts students to question norms. Beyond an unparalleled education, U Chicago boast an incredible student body.
Whether it’s over $1 milkshakes at a desk beneath the stunning glass dome of the Moss Suedo Library, or over a game of pickup basketball. Students at U Chicago have a reputation for cultivating the most interesting conversations. Both miscellaneous and profound. I hope that culture will only intensify with groups like the Student Government, Muslim Student Association, or the Undefeated Model United Nations team.
Though I look forward to S Scab, the prospect of another scavenger hunt is even more enticing. Over the next four years, my peers and I will discover the impact we intend to have on the, whether I end up delving into politics, finance, or the nonprofit sector, I know U Chicago will guide me through that process.
More importantly, as a member of a campus of visionaries, I hope to learn how I’ll change any field I enter. I look forward to four life-changing years, this time with a warm winter. So this is an essay from a student that was admitted to the University of Chicago. Why did this particular essay work? So he or she does a couple really interesting things here.
One of the components that the author really displays is that they have done their research. They have dropped a professor’s name, some of the accomplishments of a professor. They have shown that they have taken a campus tour and named some of the buildings. They also talk about some campus traditions that maybe the average person wouldn’t have insight to.
Now I do wanna acknowledge that there’s possibly some privilege going on here. This student does have a friend that attends the University of Chicago, so they were able to come and shadow a. Not everyone is going to have that experience as they’re writing, so they had some amazing content to draw off of there.
But even if the student did not shadow the class, the second two paragraphs really could stand alone without the shadowing happening. They still are familiar with the professor. They’re familiar with their work. They’re able to make a connection between the professor’s work and the things that they wanna do in the future.
The student lays out from start to finish everything that they wanna do on U Chicago’s campus from an academic standpoint and a social standpoint. And then finally they wrap up the essay and say, this is what I want to do when I leave U Chicago. And this is why U Chicago would uniquely prepare me to do that.
So when we’re looking at a why college essay, you wanna show a couple things. You wanna show that you’ve done your research. You wanna allow the admissions committee to see you on the campus, and then you want to allow the admissions committee to see you making an impact as an alum of that school. That is how you wrap up a why school essay.
This is a lovely U Chicago essay. And I can see why it was so compelling to the admissions committee.
So here’s a little bit of advice, review essays from previous cycles. It’s wonderful. There are tons of those essays out there on different websites. CollegeAdvisor has their own U Chicago supplemental essay guide, so definitely check that out. You’ll find this example that I covered tonight in the webinar.
Plus other examples. So it’s an amazing place to start be creative, especially on these U Chicago essays. They are opening the door for your creativity, for your wit. So definitely lean into that and make sure that that’s coming alive in your essays. Don’t repeat yourself. This is a lovely opportunity to provide additional information or maybe expand on something that you briefly mentioned somewhere else.
So if your common app personal essay is about one topic, you want to talk about another topic and your U Chicago supplemental essays you wanna give the committee as much information about you as possible to make a. And then lastly, don’t wait until the last minute. That is always a recipe for disaster.
And so as we talked about earlier, that sweet spot of when you wanna start really thinking about essays and working on essays is the summer before your senior year, but it is never too early to start.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation, part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab. And there is, there are an additional one or two essay examples, I believe in the, the downloadable document if you would like to check those out.
But moving on to the live Q&A, I’ll read through your questions you submitted in the Q&A tab and read them aloud before our panelist gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the link through the You joined the webinar through the custom links sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page, also known as the website or else you won’t get all the features of BigMarker.
So, and also I’ve been adding some additional information in the chat. It does not get saved with the webinar, so if you want it, you need a copy and paste it. But there is some links to U Chicago and to our website as well as. Dr. Other webinars that you can check out. Going back to the fee waiver, you can ask your high school counselor or your college counselor if you have one of those for the waivers.
Typically, if you’re eligible for free and reduced lunch, or if you’re a low SES student, you are eligible for those application waivers as well as ones for the ACT and SAT. Blah, blah, blah. What else? The deadlines for the regular decision and early decision two is January 3rd, which is coming up in about two weeks, maybe a little less.
And then there’s some information on where you can find those in the common app. The word count limit for U Chicago is one to two pages, which, or 200 kilobytes, which is a bit weird. It’s not really a word count. But that is about 650 ish words. So about the size of a personal statement.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, and then I also added an example, outline for a supplement mostly for a why school or why major. So yeah, but going onto the Q&A . So starting off, what is the purpose of the supplemental essay? Thanks McKenzie. So the, the purpose of the supplemental essay is to directly ask about some information that may not be included in the application.
In the case of U Chicago, I think that they are really getting at creativity, intellectual curiosity asking students to be introspective so that, that. They’re looking for in their essays. There are some essay questions that are a little bit more objective. Again, why do you wanna major in this?
We wanna know why, because we only have X amount of seats in this major. So when you’re filling out or writing a supplemental essay, know that this is a question that the admissions committee truly wants to know. And if you are looking at test optional, Supplemental essays have been tweaked to gather more academic insight into a student.
So we truly are using that information for something to better understand you as a student. Mm-hmm. Going on to the next question is U Chicago looking for quirky applicants? That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say that they’re looking for quirky applicants per se but I will say that they’re looking for dynamic applicants.
Creative applicants applicants that lean into interdisciplinary topics and work. And I think that’s what those questions are really trying to pull out of students. I think the same student could fill out a common, a personal essay and not seem quirky at all, and a student. answer one of these U Chicago prompts and it really just draws it out of them.
So I, I think that they’re wanting to kind of tug at the parts of you that may be a little bit more informal in what you’re used to presenting to a college admissions committee. Yes. And every school varies in their supplements. U Chicago is just notoriously the oddball one. But other schools can ask questions such as, what books have you read over the summer?
Magazines Columbia usually asks questions like those cuz they wanna know what types of things you’re reading. The UC’s have their own application, but I’ve seen them ask questions like how would you describe yourself in five words? Some schools ask, like, describe yourself with the song title.
And these essays can vary in topic what they’re looking for. Just see what you’re gonna be like. Student person, roommate, et cetera. And they can vary from as low as one word to as high as 850 words depending on the school. And schools can vary from having no supplements to having as many as I’ve seen eight, but that was like varying in size.
I’m pretty sure Stanford had eight, but like five of them were only like max 30 words. So they all vary. A. But going on to the next question, if I’m not that creative or writer, how should I go about answering the questions? Yeah, good question. So I think the example that we covered in this webinar was
I wouldn’t say that he, he was a particularly creative writer. But there are some other examples on the sheet that we just shared where you could tell that these students are really, really skilled at writing. The expectation is not for every student to have above average creative writing skills, but you are able to draw creative comparisons.
So if you’re feeling a little insecure about your writing ability, I would focus on theme and an outline. If you can draw a compelling comparison or create a compelling story objectively. So this is what happened. This is why it’s interesting, these, this is why these two things are connected. It may not be as flowery and as pros like as some of the other writers but I think it could still be successful.
So I would focus on a strong outline and focusing on the content and the argument that you’re making and less about how the sentences flow together. Mm-hmm. This is what is it? This is an outline that I created when I was writing my essay and I use it with my students. But it’s the why, what, how, so why is like the intro, so your purpose or passion, an exciting moment or an anecdote such as in the essay example of going to the U Chicago and sitting in on the classroom your, what is, what you’re going to do in college, such as your major or programs of interest.
Other things going on around campus and what do you like about the school, et cetera. And then the how is, how are you gonna take what you’ve learned or what you’ve gained from the school or what you’re going to gain rather to fulfill your purpose that you mentioned in the beginning. And how does the college relate to your passion?
This is just a broad. To give you talking points of, or a structure of how to go, cuz that can be something students struggle with. It doesn’t need to be followed to a T but it’s just something to get you going. But going on to the next question student is asking how could you show your personality or values in the essays creatively?
So there’s a couple examples. I don’t know if McKenzie, if the guide is the same to the U Chicago guide that you can find online. If not, if you could drop the link in there for me. So there are at least two examples and that essay that I think show personality and values really well you can show personality in the way that you write.
So, you may say a core part of my personality is that I have a thousand thoughts going on in my head at once. And my mind is always running, and I’m always running through solutions and things that I could be doing differently. I’ve seen really well done essays. that have a kind of scatterbrain read to them, if you will.
That they’re kind of shooting out ideas at you all related to what they’re talking about, but you’re getting some insight into way, the way their brain works. Dry sarcasm. I’ve read some really like sarcastic essays. Now. That’s one. If you’re not, if you, if you don’t know, if you do sarcasm. Well, I would not venture into that lane, but I have read some really great essays where student, a student really said, okay, I’m gonna take a risk here and I’m gonna show a part of my personality through my writing.
So those are just two kind of random personality types that I’ve seen really come alive in essays. As far as values there’s tons of ways that you can both explicitly share your values and also weave them into what you’re doing. Let’s take the new Chicago essay prompt about a historical figure as an example.
Maybe you choose a historical figure. That share some of the same values as you. And through that person you’re able to talk about why these values are so important or why they could really make a difference in the world. So again, making a list of your values, that’s Preesa Prep. That’s something that you can do to say, Hey, these are the things that describe me and these are the things that I want to put in my college.
Going on to the next question students asking if you’re applying to multiple schools, should you write a supplemental essay for each school or can you copy the essay? Good question. So. Schools don’t know if you reused an essay. So there’s not an issue there. However, what you might find, so I talked about showing institutional fit In every essay that you write a good essay for U Chicago may not be a good essay for BU or for Emory or NYU or wherever you’re looking.
So yes, you can do that, but I would be careful. and copying word for word content for content. I’ve seen students take the general bones of an essay and say, okay, well I’m interested in biology at U Chicago, but I’m interested in biochem at Johns Hopkins. How do I change this essay so it now fits this new school that I’m looking at?
So maybe parts of it would be the same but maybe you introduce it differently or you conclude it differently. So you wanna make those kind of tweaks as you’re taking essay from school to school. Most students are applying from anywhere from 10 to 12 institutions, so there is absolutely reusing of essays that happens.
So don’t feel bad about that at all. It’s actually really common, but you do wanna kind of tweak each of your essays to make sure that it fully fits the school that you’re applying to. Yes. And going off of that with the little outline that I gave when I used it for my essay for Cornell University and then Howard University the why section, like the intro about just my experience in high school, or the inciting moment for why I wanted.
To be pre-med essentially. I kept the same. And then kind of on the how section I kept pretty the same since my future career goals were gonna be the same regardless of what school I was going to. And then your personal background type information is gonna be the same regardless of what school you’re going to in terms of the what section with.
what major? What’s interesting about the school, that’s where you really need a change. If you’re able to just copy and paste that section or any type of information about the school and use it for another school, you aren’t being specific enough because it shouldn’t be exactly the same cuz a biology program at Columbia is not gonna be the same as a biology program at U Chicago necessarily, cuz they’re gonna have different professors, different ways about going about it.
different things are just interesting about the school in general. So that type of information shouldn’t be the same going across schools. Going on to the next question a student is asking, oh, also yes. U Chicago is test optional this year. For students that aren’t applying this year you’ll have to check again when it’s your application year to see if they’re still test optional, cuz it changes periodically.
But going on to the next question. Does writing about your college visit make you stand out or show more demonstrated interest? Is it necessary? Yeah, really great question. So some college visits aren’t that interesting at all, . So if your college visit is cut and dry and you’re not able to draw any compelling parallels on your visit through the essay prompt then.
I wouldn’t say that it’s, it’s just giving you a, an upper hand to mention it. First, most institutions know that you visited. While they’re reading your college application, so you may not have to explicitly talk about it in your essay, they’ll be able to see in your application that yes, this person visited.
Also not all institutions consider demonstrated in interest in their review process. There are tons of reason. Why students are unable to make it to a college to visit that have nothing to do with how interested they are in the college. So a great question that you can ask to your admissions counselor is to do you all consider demonstrated interest, which basically means.
is it helpful for my application if I visited, if I’ve interacted with the institution? If the answer to that is yes, then absolutely I would make sure that you have something compelling to talk about in the ways that you’ve interacted with the college. But if they say no and you just had a simple tour, maybe you were in ninth through 10th grade but there wasn’t anything to write home about.
I don’t think that you should feel compelled to mention that in the essay. They’ll already. Mm-hmm. Going on to the next question do you need to does your supplement need to name drop professors or courses? So it depends. I think there’s a really Superficial surface level way to do that, which is not helpful.
And then there’s a more authentic way to do that which can be interesting. I, I definitely don’t think that you have to name drop professors in a why college essay. And if you are going to name drop them, you. Show that you are knowledgeable and have some connection to whatever it is that you’re talking about.
It can’t just be picking a random professor and saying a book that they wrote. You have to draw some comparison or show why you are interested in that professor or in that body of work, as I mentioned, name dropping in college applications is kind of like name dropping at a dinner party. It doesn’t always go well.
So if you know you’re forcing it, then I would leave it out. If you say that this is like a real reason why I am interested in U Chicago. I read all of this woman’s books or I to this guy’s podcast or, I wanna get my PhD here and they’re doing this really cool research experiment. Sure. Talk about it.
But if it’s superficial and not authentic, then I would just stay away from it. Mm-hmm. Also on that note when I was applying to school different counselors told me, name dropping isn’t always good if that’s like the sole part of your essay, because professors do leave colleges every now and again.
So if that’s the only reason you’re interested in a school, it may be a little bit I don’t even know the word, but it may be like an unstable reasoning. So you need more than just a professor at a school. But going on to the next question just for more specificity, do you need to specify which major you want in your essay?
No. So as you’re filling out the common app or the coalition app, you are explicitly asked what you’re interested in studying. So the committee will have that record there. And then in your essay, if they’re not asking you specifically, why this major? Why this academic interest? No, you don’t have to state it.
I will say that good supplemental essays should touch on what your academic interests are. So the readers should have a sense of, maybe it’s not the exact major, but a sense of what you wanna do in what you’re interested in, in the c. Mm-hmm. I, and going on to the next question. Okay, where was it?
So the application deadline is January 3rd for early decision and I mean, not early decision too. And then regular decision. Is there enough time to complete it if you have not started yet? Ooh, good question as I look at my calendar. So yeah, we are less than two weeks. I would say there is enough time to submit an application if you have submitted other college applications to this point.
So if you’ve submitted other college applications and you have a personal essay already, you already have an activities list together, maybe you have some idea of essays that you’ve wrote for other institutions and how you could repurpose them. Sure. There, there there’s a possibility that with a lot of work probably starting tomorrow that you could, that you could get an essay in Absolut.
Yes, and you, it is best to start earlier so that you have time for yourself to look over it, but also just to get other eyes on it, just to make sure there wasn’t anything you missed, and especially to like get additional support or editing from other people cuz it is a quick turnaround at the moment.
But for seniors application deadlines are right around the corner. Make sure your supplemental essays are in tiptop shape with CollegeAdvisor’s new essay editing packages. These packages are designed for seniors in the thick of the application process who aren’t yet working with CollegeAdvisor.com.
So meaning you don’t have an advisor but if you register for a package, you’ll receive two unbiased and expert reviews per essay, all within 72 hours or less, which is really great for the upcoming deadlines right now. Take the next step to improve your college essays by signing up for an essay editing package using the QR code on the screen.
So you can scan this now or you can download the slides and scan it later. But kind of going off of that, For those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know that the admissions process is overwhelming for your parents and students alike. Our team of over 300 former admissions officers, such as Chelsea and admissions experts such as myself, are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions.
Take the next step in your college admissions journey by signing up for a brief 45 to 60 minute strategy session within a. Specialist on our team using the QR code on the screen during this meeting. You’ll learn more about our packages and what different things we offer, which package would be the best for you and what other services we offer.
But just to give you a tidbit of information, we have wonderful advisors for including students that are currently attending or have attended U Chicago or we’re accepted into U Chicago. Who can tell you all about experience or just the experience applying. And then also if you are a member of CollegeAdvisor, we have our essay review team who can help with those quick turnarounds before the deadline.
They are especially busy right now, but they have those quick turnarounds of 24 hours or less on essay editing, which is especially helpful when you’re just trying to figure out how to really up your essay. So you can find out more information by scanning the QR Screen, but now back to the Q&A.
So going on to the next question what is considered a bad. Hmm, good one. So there’s, there’s so much that’s considered a bad essay. So I think a low hanging fruit an essay that is not well organized, an essay that has typos or grammatical errors so that that could be considered a bad essay.
An essay that does not answer the prompt or address the. Could be considered a bad essay. An essay. outright name drops another school or reads as though, were you really writing this for U Chicago, this doesn’t even sound like you’re mentioning things. There’s buzzwords here, but they don’t really connect to like the soul of what the, the colleges is.
That, that, those are examples of a bad essay. I think if you are writing your essay and you’re trying to like say, okay, how are people going to feel about this? How do you feel about it again? If it feels forced, it’s probably going to read forced. So a bad essay is when you are writing. and everything that you’re writing is what you think they wanna hear.
Or you’re trying to strategize around this process a little bit too much. So you wanna write exactly what you are interested in and what you’re passionate about. And, and that is, that’s what’s going to be the most helpful. Mm-hmm. On that note, another student is asking, are there any topics that should be avoided in the essays?
I would say topics or stories that might bring your morality into question may not be the best topics to explore, you can get personal you can talk about struggles that you’ve had in your life or things that you’ve experienced. I, I don’t always think profanity in essays goes across well.
So if you find yourself being like too vulgar around any topics in your essays that can be off-putting. You wanna think of the people that are reading your essays as a collection of society. So you have people that have different beliefs, different backgrounds and yes, they’ve been trained to come and evaluate essays but they’re still bringing their whole person to reading an essay. And so anything that’s going to rub a committee member too hot or too cold, you wanna stay away from, because you don’t know what biases people are bringing in to the review room. And you wanna make sure that you’re kind of staying around the, this is generally acceptable to talk.
Mm-hmm. Typically religious views and political views are where people get most hesitant about. You can talk about your religion or your politics. It’s better if it’s like leaning on more, like actions you’ve done, like if you ran a campaign or if you like did something with your church. But talking about your views in particular is where it gets a little bit harder to navigate.
So really it’s good to have somebody else. Before then, just so you can get another perspective if you are trying to write something on those. But as the webinar is coming to a close are there any last minute advice or any questions you see in the chat that you would like to answer?
I think we did a good job of tackling most of the questions in the chat. I would just encourage you to oh. Nadia, this is a perfect closer. So Nadia asked, was the supplemental essay the number one factor in getting into a college? I wanna shape that reshape that question and say, how important are supplemental essays in the college process?
They are absolutely not the number one factor in getting to a college. Most of the institutions that our students are interested in at CollegeAdvisor take a holistic approach to reviewing your application, which means that they are considering a number of factors including your GPA and your transcript, also including essays, recommendation letters, activity lists.
So it is a mixture of all of all of these things. I will say if you are looking at more selective institutions, selective institutions draw a more talented academic bunch. So if you’re applying to a school that has an acceptance rate below 20%, the likelihood that there are tons of other students that have stellar grades, stellar SAT scores are also applying.
And so you have to then begin to look for the things that can set you apart. From the other intelligent kids that did wonderful in high school, and essays are one of those areas that can begin to set you apart and really make a difference. And so I won’t say that they’re the most important, but they are an amazing opportunity to boost your application as a whole.
Mm-hmm. So that is the end of our webinar. We hope you found this information helpful, and rumor again, you can download the site from Lincoln, the handouts tab. And this webinar is being recorded if you’ll like to view it again later on our website at app.collegeadvisor.com/webinars. Thank you Chelsea, for all of this wonderful information on U Chicago and supplemental essays.
This is the end of our December and 2022 webinar. Stay tuned for our upcoming January series where we’ll have more webinars for our underclassman on various parts of the application process. So yeah. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight.