The Purpose of & How to Tackle College Specific Essays (Supplemental Essays)

The Purpose of & How to Tackle College Specific Essays (Supplemental Essays)

The supplemental essays (or “supps” as we call them) are a chance for you to “supplement” your personal statement (aka the Common App essay) with more information about who you are and what makes you tick. Although many supps ask you to write about seemingly straightforward topics, like your extracurriculars or academics, they are not merely an opportunity to rehash your résumé or the activities section of the Common Application. They are, like the personal statement, an opportunity to tell another deeply personal story—not to brag about your brag-worthy accomplishments. Remember: it is stories, not accomplishments, that will make your application memorable.

For your essay to count as a story, it needs to tell a narrative that charts personal progress and change. Maybe your résumé is full of community service, and though you love it now, when you started, it felt like a chore. Tell that story. Maybe you played piano for ten years only to quit in tenth grade so you could devote more time to your real passion—computer science. Tell that story. Maybe you founded a club, and no one came to the first meeting, but you decided to keep going, and now you have a small but devoted core group. Tell. That. Story. In other words: Tell the unvarnished true story, even if that story isn’t neat or pretty. Those are the best stories!

Although supps present a valuable opportunity to make yourself even more memorable to your favorite schools, they also present a daunting amount of work: the majority of schools require at least one supplemental essay, and some, like MIT and Wake Forest, ask you to complete five or more. Many students we work with end up having to complete, on average, ten to fifteen sets of supps, or anywhere from eight to twenty additional essays. This is an insane amount of writing, and it can seem especially challenging because the prompts for these essays appear to vary greatly from school to school.

Don’t be daunted. You don’t have to write twenty unique essays!

Over the years, we have identified four types of essays that admissions officers most commonly look for. The students we work with write, on average, these four essays that they are then able to adapt and repurpose for different word counts and prompts.  They are:

  • Academic and Intellectual Interests
  • Community and Identity
  • Creativity
  • Impact and Influence

And following our method, you can do this too! In The Complete College Essay Handbook, we provide:

  • An overview of the type, with writing advice
  • Sample essays to show you how it’s done at different word limits
  • Both obvious and less-obvious prompts, so you can get a sense of the ways colleges phrase each question
  • A brief brainstorming questionnaire targeted to that type

We also show you how to adapt your essays for higher or lower word limits and how to repurpose your essays for the few prompts that fall outside of the four types. Using our methods, you’ll be able to maximize your time by writing fewer, but more effective and widely applicable, supplemental essays.

Get a copy today (paperback or ebook option), or if you are interested in working with us 1:1, reach out via email!

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Break Into Law School™ Conference June 25-26

S. Montgomery Admissions is hosting a free virtual 2-day conference on June 25-26, “Break into Law School,” that will provide information to law school applicants, current law students, and young lawyers at no cost.

Counselors and high school students are more than welcome to attend! They currently have 8 panels planned with roughly 24+ panelists for the entire event. Panelists include law school deans and professors, the Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of the LSAC, judges, corporate attorneys, and more.

– Equity in Law School Admissions
– Financing Your Legal Education
– Conquering the LSAT Exam
– Surviving 1L Year
– Climbing the Corporate Law Ladder
– Entering Academia
– The Judiciary: From Clerkships to the Bench

– Branching Out with Your Own Firm

There will be a networking hour where registrants can network with attorneys, judges, legal professors, current students, and applicants. Thanks to generous sponsors they will also have LSAT courses, free hours of consulting, pre-1L support, and wealth management sessions to give away!

Register at bit.ly/joinbils
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Rising Sophomores and Juniors: College Planning Starts Now!

Rising Sophomores and Juniors: College Planning Starts Now!

College counseling is not a program that you simply sign up for—it’s a relationship, and a process that takes place over an extended period of time.

The majority of our work with students—which includes academic planning, narrative and extracurricular development (your academic and EC “story” for college), a strategic college list, and completing essays, app data, and an extended resume—starts in 10th or early in 11th grade.

Rising soph’s and juniors can:

  • Start to prep for standardized exams early. Don’t wait until spring of your junior year to begin prep. We have a small list of tutors who we can highly recommend; don’t leave who you work with up to chance.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. They will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other.
  • Build your story! Have you been heavily involved with any of your extracurricular activities (other than sports, in which you can’t major)? Look for impact and leadership opportunities. More importantly, does your resume point toward a major or intellectual interest? What is your story, and how is it told on your resume?
  • Plan your summer wisely. You’ll want to use this summer to build your resume and make sure it’s pointed toward your intended major.
  • Visit the websites of schools you are interested in. Explore the admission and academic pages, start to attend virtual offerings, and track your contact with schools. It should be exciting to kick your college research into a higher gear this summer. How else will you get to know schools (rankings do not count, they are meaningless)? Don’t forget to connect with your reps, too.

Fill out the contact form to schedule a consult and find out how we can support you in your college planning and application process.

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Thoughtful, Authentic, Effective College Essays

Thoughtful, Authentic, Effective College Essays

The college essay is fairly simple to write but often made more complicated than it needs to be. The goal? Clear, concise, effective. Nothing fancy, nothing that should take more than a few weeks, max. 

Effective essays: 

  • Demonstrate authenticity and thoughtfulness
  • Bring the writer to life on paper (but are not an explanation of their whole life)
  • Are excellent in topic, style, and grammar

We are gearing up for a summer busy with college essay support, so our students can start senior year with peace of mind, less stress, and having already completed most of their essays

If you know a rising senior who would benefit from our guidance and who might want to work with one of our essay experts, contact us to schedule a consultation.

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College Admission: Data, Transparency, And Match

College Admission: Data, Transparency, And Match

Does it matter whether Princeton was ranked the number one or number three university in the country this year? Do you really care if Stanford’s overall admit rate was 3.95% or 2.16%? What does it mean to you if the University of Pennsylvania denied 94.32% or 95.74% of all applicants?

News flash: these institutions are uber selective. You could be the most qualified student in the country with perfect grades and test scores, an exceptionally written college essay, glowing recommendations, and impactful community involvement, and still be turned down by the most selective colleges.

Brennan Barnard’s recent Forbes piece explores colleges’ lack of transparency and so much more. Give it a read!
The reality is, you are rolling the dice when applying to these schools. They could select a full class of new students, throw it out, take the runners up, and guess what…the overall profile of the accepted class would look nearly identical. In fact, schools with low single-digit admit rates could do this many times over. This you cannot control. What you can control is how YOU approach the college search and application experience, and the quality and usefulness of the data you seek.
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Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Probably not. 

Great piece by Jim Jump if you are following the test-optional movement. A highlight:

There are, of course, some global reasons why test-optional policies will not go away. One is the decision by the University of California and Cal State systems to no longer use test scores in their admission processes. As a result, colleges that recruit heavily in California will have a hard time reinstating test score requirements. But students outside California may also rebel against colleges that return to requiring test scores. The Ivies may be able to get away with it, but two years ago, when the pandemic accelerated the number of colleges going the test-optional route, an admissions dean friend postulated that colleges farther down the food chain may find that students may simply refuse to apply to colleges that aren’t test optional.

Read it here in full!

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Two BIG Additions to the Common App!

Two BIG Additions to the Common App!

Students applying to college in 2022-2023 will have access to over 50 additional colleges and universities through the Common App. The two “big” additions are:

Texas A&M University (TX)

The University of Texas at Austin (TX)

Find the full list here

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What Admissions Officers Look For In Essays

What Admissions Officers Look For In Essays

Georgia Tech says it best when it comes to essays! 

What we are looking for…

Essays are evaluated for both content and writing/grammatical skills. So, before submitting your application, you should take the time to edit and review your essay thoroughly. Strong essays:

  • Demonstrate authenticity and thoughtfulness
  • Brings you to life on paper
  • Are excellent in topic, style, and grammar

They also share a few other tips…

  • Get started early. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your essays!
  • Don’t write what you think we want to read. Write what you want to say!
  • Don’t blow off the essay! We wouldn’t ask you to write it if we didn’t find it to be an important way to get to know you, and what you have to bring to Georgia Tech.

What we have to say…

Excellence in topic, style, and grammar is our Essay Expert’s area of excellence, and where we have been told we add tremendous value in our 1:1 work with students as we help them craft surprising, authentic, and effective college essays. 

We are gearing up for a summer busy with college essay support so that students can start senior year with less stress (and ready to submit apps!). If you are or know a junior who might want to work with one of our essay experts, contact us to schedule a free consultation call.  

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Class of 2022 Acceptances

Class of 2022 Acceptances

Our students rock! We are grateful they chose to have us along for the ride. This year was extraordinarily tough, and we are so proud of the work they put in. Their efforts did not go unnoticed by colleges either. Although we are believers that the journey is just as sweet as the reward, we are celebrating the reward (acceptances) in this post.

Below you will find some of the schools where the students we worked with earned acceptances year:

University of Pennsylvania*
Cornell*
Dartmouth*
Duke*
Stanford*
Georgetown*
Williams*
Harvard
Brown
Princeton
University of Chicago
University of Virginia*
Vanderbilt
WashU
JHU
Wesleyan
Boston College*
Northeastern*
St. Andrews*
Tulane*
Bates
Bowdoin
Colby
Vassar
Claremont McKenna
Emory
Indiana University Kelley School of Business*
University of California, Los Angeles*
University of Miami*
University of Michigan*
University of Richmond*
University of Rochester*
University of Texas, Austin*
University of Wisconsin*
Bard*
FIDM
Parson’s
Pratt
Baylor*
Chapman*
Clemson*
Coastal Carolina*
College of Charleston*
Colorado College
Fairfield*
Fordham*
Grinnell
Lehigh*
Loyola Chicago*
Macalester
Miami Ohio*
SDSU
Marymount Manhattan
McGill
NJIT
Penn State*
Oberlin
Ohio State*
Rhodes
Quinnipiac
Santa Clara*
Sarah Lawrence
Southern Methodist University*
St. John’s
TCNJ*
University of Delaware*
University of Florida*
University of Illinois*
University of Iowa
University of Maryland*
University of Massachusetts, Amherst*
University of Pittsburgh*
University of San Diego
University of South Carolina*
University of Tampa*
University of Tulsa
University of Vermont*
University of Washington*

*multiple students admitted

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Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional

Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional

And so it begins…

MIT is no longer test-optional.

Will other schools follow in the name of transparency (because—let’s be honest—although test-optional policies do have merit at some institutions, they do not increase transparency around the admissions process)?

After careful consideration, we have decided to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles. Our research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT. We believe a requirement is more equitable and transparent than a test-optional policy. In the post below —  and in a separate conversation with MIT News today —  I explain more⁠ about how we think this decision helps us advance our mission. 

Some popular schools that have also rolled back COVID-era test-optional policies include UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, New College of Florida, FSU, UCF, and USF (all State University System of Florida). 

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