Can You Use the Same Essay for Different College Applications?

Personal statement or the primary essay, supplemental essays, additional information essay. I’m so confused! Can I use the same essay for all my college applications? You can use the same personal statement and additional information essays for all of your college applications. The supplemental essay is a bit different as it tends to be more specific school focused. Here is a breakdown of the types of application assays and whether or not using the same essay for different college applications is appropriate.

Personal Statement or Primary Essay Can Be Used for All College Applications

Your personal statement will probably be the longest essay you will write. Although there are general prompts you can follow to write this essay, in reality, this can be any topic you choose, as long as it is about you. Many times Signature College Counseling doesn’t begin with the prompts, but rather delves into who the student is, uncovering their unique story. But, we digress here. Can you use this essay for different applications? Yes, that is the point of this essay! When you write it and copy the personal statement essay into the Common App or Coalition Application (or the like), it will be sent to ALL of the schools that you apply to using that application, if that school requires and allows you to do so (which really are 99% of the colleges you apply to). So, this is good news – one, single essay getting sent to many schools!

Supplemental Essays Should Be Unique for Each School’s Application

Supplemental essays are responses to prompts asked by a specific school. They are typically shorter in length and more focused. Questions typically include “Why do you want to attend this school?” or “Why have you selected this major?”. Sometimes, the prompts can be more esoteric, like, “Select a person in history or who is currently living who you would like to have dinner with and tell us what you would like to discuss with them” or “Please tell us five interesting facts about you.” Here’s the thing, you may think that you can copy and paste “why this school” essay or “why this major” essay to another school that asks the identical question, but I will tell you that the exact opposite is the case. You want to be absolutely sure and do your research to express to that school why you have chosen them. Be specific and make sure you do your homework so the reader doesn’t feel that you have just copied this essay from one that you had written for another school. Trust me, they know when you do so. Do not speak in generalities, be specific and heartfelt.

That being said, when we have students that have to write a series of essays, inevitably there is a series of themes that transcend throughout. So, you may not be able to copy an essay word for word, but you absolutely will be able to take portions of an essay, or essays, that you have written and apply it to another college’s supplemental essay. This doesn’t happen all of the time, but it definitely does occur.

The Same Additional Information Essay Can Be Used for Different Schools

An additional essay is not required and is not used by every student. It should be used when you need to clarify or explain something in your high school career or personal life, or expand on an activity that is necessary to do so since the 150 characters in the activity section or your resume doesn’t do justice to. This just names a few reasons to use this section. And yes, this essay gets sent to ALL of your schools through the Common App or Coalition Application.

What Does This All Mean for You?

There are essays you will write that will go to all of your schools and there are essays you will write that you can take all or part of and apply them to another college’s supplemental essay prompts. The most important thing is that you put forth effort and give your all to writing your essays since this is a way for your application to come to life, for the readers to get to know you and who you are. Be thoughtful, make sure your essays are written to best reflect who you are, be sincere and genuine, and make sure they are grammatically correct. Everything speaks.

Looking for help with the college admissions process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey from search, and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone and by email.

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