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How to Organize Supplemental Essay Prompts for Maximum Efficiency

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Let’s do a quick pulse check. Is your heart racing? Is your head spinning? Are you already drowning in an ocean of your own sweat? DON’T WORRY. We swear. It’s really not that bad. You just haven’t gotten organized yet!

We’re here to introduce you to your friend, OVERLAP.

Even outside of the Why Essay, Activity Essay, Oddball Essay and Community Essay, you are going to find a lot of overlap between your supplemental essay prompts. In order to tackle these essays as efficiently and effectively as possible, we suggest that before you brainstorm a single word, you collect every single supplement required of you and ORGANIZE.

For example, it’s likely you have to write three separate why essays for three different schools. Which one is the longest? Start there. When you’re done can you edit the essay to suit the next school in line and cut the essay based on the shorter word count. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

But, if you’re using the same essay as a base for various supplements, make sure you change out your references appropriately. There is nothing like a beautifully written essay that ends with “and that is why I belong at Vassar” to get the Bates admissions officer shaking her head and tossing you into the rejection pile.

Once you finish attacking your Why Essays, round up your activity essays and again, tackle the longest one first. By the time you make your way to your community essays, oddballs and schools off the Common App, you will be warm and ready for your most creative brainstorming.

Keep a running list of your ideas and again, gun for your longest remaining supplements early in the process. By the time you reach your final handful of oddball questions, you will likely have a stack of ideas to comb through (since you never throw anything out) and a ton of drafts to mine for fully polished content. Subjects from finished essays may even be usable if you simply look at them through a different lens. Maybe apply a metaphor or a mechanism? The trick is staying organized and approaching theses essays without fear.

Are you organized and ready to write?
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