Tips on Writing Supplementary Applications

By Daniela Hernandez-Ruiz and Aisha Mir

As the winter break approaches, many people are submitting applications to post-secondary institutions. Some of these applications require a written portion, which allows the reader to get to know you better as a person. With winter break being an ideal time to apply, here are some tips that can help you write a successful application that will help you stand out from other applicants. 

  1. Be yourself! 

Many applicants try shaping themselves into an ideal candidate they think an institution would be gunning for. While this may seem like a step in the right direction, admission officers do not want a generic student who has the same interests as the thousands of applicants who have applied. There are many types of people who qualify for admission, and those who express themselves can truly show the university what makes them unique. Every person has a different story to tell, do not tailor it to what you think the institution deems ideal.

  1. Edit, edit, edit!

Supplementary applications are used to see how well you write and express yourself. It is extremely important to edit your applications multiple times, but also have another set of eyes look it over! Ask a friend, a family member, or a teacher to revise your application and give you feedback. An effective application flows well while depicting your personality and interests. Look out for grammar mistakes and clarity issues. Make sure to follow the character count effectively and be concise! 

  1. Flaunt your accomplishments, but not insignificantly

If you have gone above and beyond, do not be afraid to tell the university! Some examples can be ranking high within a HOSA competition, winning an award at a Model United Nations conference, or attaining something that is highly selective, such as becoming a volunteer at a hospital. All of these can be great things to put in your application, provided that it pertains to your application. If it is insignificant, no matter how good of an achievement it is, an institution will infer that you have not read the question correctly, or have not answered it to the best of your ability. 

  1. Quality over quantity

The words we have been told for the longest time. This still sticks with us, however, in the context of supplementary applications, we are not only talking about the length of the application (every word counts). 

When you describe experiences, universities really don’t bat an eyelash to the number of experiences you have. Someone may be in ten clubs, get outstanding grades, but there is a component lacking within your application: your dedication to your experiences. You can have an executive position in numerous clubs but that may very well work against you, because if you overcommit yourself, you dedicate less time to everything. Universities want to see how those positions have affected you, and to what extent you have been involved. You will see successful candidates have niche communities, and they are selective on what they want to do. This is because they can invest great energy in the clubs they partake in, which means they have a lot to say on their experiences.

Now people may lie about their involvement in the club, making them seem like an ideal candidate, and so you may be tempted to do this too. However, if universities find out you have received admission because you lied to achieve it, you may very well get your degree revoked or not be able to attain it. Speak on your experiences and be honest about your involvement. You can only attain merit if you work to achieve it.

  1. Brainstorm and outline

Before you start to write, it’s a good idea to brainstorm what you want to say and how you want to portray yourself. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the great ideas and points you want to add, so writing your ideas down first can prevent that anxiety from hindering your application. List your involvement in school clubs, leadership positions, or volunteering opportunities, so you won’t miss anything significant. Getting all your ideas down is an excellent starting point to a successful application that makes you stand out as an outstanding applicant. 

  1. Research!

Before you write your applications, research the school and program you are applying to. Universities frequently have webinars or articles that give tips on how to write an impactful application for a specific program. Use those resources to your benefit! Many supplementary applications ask the question, “Why do you want to study at this school in this specific program?” Make sure to connect to the ideals and expectations the university upholds in these programs, and connect it back to why you would be an excellent fit. 

Make sure you know when the deadline for your applications are! Don’t rush through them—take your time. Supplementary applications are meant to increase your chances of admission, not hinder them! 

Supplementary applications are an excellent opportunity to show your success and accomplishments, and to flaunt all your hard work over the course of high school! These tips ensure that you showcase the best version of yourself to admissions officers. You’ve worked diligently through all the challenges thrown your way, and it’s time to see that hard work pay off! Best of luck, Knights! 

Mazza, EliseTips on Writing Supplementary Applications