Until you actually get into a college’s application process, you may not realize that you have more than one essay to write. Today, over 700 colleges accept the Common App, which requires one essay of 650 words; over 130–even the University of Maryland at College Park–now accept the Coalition for Access and Affordability application, which has one essay of 500 words. But most schools still have questions that are unique to their institution.

Those supplemental prompts can require a tweet-sized response, as in UMCP’s “What was your favorite thing about last Tuesday?” Or they may ask for a full-blown essay of 500 words, as at Penn State.

Make sure you answer the questions thoughtfully and thoroughly, and give these essays the attention they deserve. Remember that colleges are really looking for the answer to these two essential questions: Can this candidate write like a college student? Who is this candidate, really? (What makes him or her different from the thousands of others applying here this year?)

Happy writing!

Don’t Forget Those Supplemental Essays