Going to college is a lot like getting married.
Stay with me–I'm going somewhere with this.
The University of Puget Sound only asks for three short responses in their supplement to the Common Application. But there's a lot going on in those three short responses, which means that if you make the most of the opportunity they're giving you, you can tell them a lot about yourself, about your interest in the school, and about your likelihood of attending (the aforementioned marital analogy will come into play later).
Here are UPS's supplemental essay questions with some Collegewise tips.
1. What are three words you would use to most aptly describe yourself?
We'll put it this way. Here are three sample responses from three totally made up applicants. Which one would you like to have as your roommate?
A. Diligent, determined, trustworthy
B. Musical, clumsy, lovable
C. Honorable, tenacious, dedicated
Most readers would pick applicant B because there's a spark of personality there. She didn't shy away from telling the truth. I learned more about her from those three words than I did from the words the other two chose. Plus, she’s just likeable (and to accomplish that in only three words isn't easy).
Don't over think this question. There really are no right or wrong answers (although I'd shy away from "cranky" "aggressive," and "dangerous"). If you hide behind words you hope will make you sound impressive, you'll miss out on the chance to be likeable. Pick words that really do describe you and have fun with it.
2. How did you first learn about Puget Sound?
Imagine you asked your boyfriend or girlfriend to recall the first time you met. What's the difference between these two responses?
"One of our friends introduced us at a party, I think. I'm pretty sure it was sophomore year."
"We were in AP Chemistry together and were paired up to do a lab project during the second week of school. I remember how stupid I felt wearing the apron and goggles and you kept making me laugh by telling me I was probably feeling awkward because you looked so fantastic in your chic lab attire. I knew I liked you then."
Note to the guys reading this–there really is a difference between those two.
Colleges feel the same way when they ask you how you first learned about them. They want to see that there's already some history to this potential relationship. So don't just write, "My high school counselor told me about UPS and it seemed very interesting." Tell them the whole story. What were you and your counselor discussing? What did you think, at the time, was the right college for you? Why did she bring up UPS? What did she say to you about it?
Be as specific as you can be in this answer and you'll show UPS that you recall vividly the first day you met.
3. In 300 words or less, please discuss why you are interested in attending Puget Sound.
Here's your opportunity to show that you've really imagined you and UPS spending your college years together (that's the marital analogy right there, by the way). Applying is non-committal. It's like a first date. Maybe it'll work out and maybe it won't. But attending is a long-term commitment. And colleges want to know which applicants have long-term relationship potential.
As with all school's who ask this question about your desire to attend, it's important that your response not be all about them, but rather, all about you. Don't just recite statistics about class sizes or rely on the old standby, "You have a beautiful campus" or the even more common, "It's a great school." You're just telling them things about UPS that they already know.
If you're serious about attending UPS, give them the real reasons why you think you'd be happy there. Why, specifically, will you be excited if an acceptance is offered to you? Tell them about an experience you've had that made you consider an academic program at UPS. Or share something you've learned about yourself and your expectations for college that match with the UPS environment. Or help them understand what you were thinking and feeling when you visited UPS and felt like you'd found your college.
This is where you get to demonstrate that you're serious about a potential long-term relationship with the college. So show them that you've imagined yourselves together.
We'll back off of the relationship analogies for now. But sometimes, they're just too effective to pass up.
Note: Before you follow our tips, we recommend you read our "How to" guide here: Download HowToUse30Guides
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