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How to Answer the “Who in Your Life is Depending on You?” Supplemental Essay Question

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If you’re applying to competitive colleges, chances are you’ve seen the following prompt once or twice in your travels across the Common App:

Who in your life is depending on you? What are they depending on you for? 

Several colleges and universities adopted this supplemental essay prompt within the past few years as a part of their mission to consider the responsibilities many students have that limit their ability to participate in organized extracurricular activities.

As you approach this essay, which is usually given a text box limit of 250 words, we encourage you to think about the many forms dependence can take in your daily life. Maybe your younger siblings count on you to pack their lunches every morning, or perhaps your grandma counts on you to stop by every evening to keep her company and sort through her mail while she eats dinner. Your story can also be less cut and dry, something like your friends depending on you for your punbelievable sense of humor or emotional support. Your teammates might look to you for leadership and positivity. Your younger cousins might come to you for advice and guidance. One way to think about this prompt is to ask yourself, “who would be disappointed if I didn’t show up?” Walk yourself through your day, week, or the past year and take notes. 

Your goal, as with all college essays, is to reveal new information about yourself to admissions in a compelling and engaging way. After all, they’re looking for reliable and consistent students who are going to take advantage of their campus’ offerings and contribute to the community at large. Though this prompt is asking who is depending on you now, admissions officers are also hoping to get an idea of what kind of community member you’ll be next fall.

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