Useful Guide to Writing Harvard Supplemental Essays
In this article, we'll be looking at a somewhat rare and yet compulsory essay format which you'll have to deal with if you ever get it in your head to enter Harvard University. No particular requirements are maintained for Harvard supplemental essays, but there are certain things you'll need to keep in mind when working on it.
What makes this guide worth attention is that tips and hints on such essays are difficult to come by these days. No wonder then that very few students in graduating class need such advice: only a few dare to contemplate entering this USA high education institution (not to say how few manage to succeed in graduating from Harvard). The reason is that the competition here is very harsh. You can see it from the Class of 2022 selection: from originally submitted 42,000+ applications that were thoroughly checked by the Harvard Admission Board, only 4.7% of the applicant pool was admitted. What else can one expect from one of the most prestigious universities in the world?
In the USA, high school students who successfully passed all the stages of the Harvard application process might tell you, "It was one of the most challenging experiences I've ever had in my life!" It may sound scary enough, especially after unpleasantly impressive statistics, but if getting into Harvard is what you genuinely want to achieve, you shouldn't neglect your ambition. One of the most important things here is to learn how to write effective supplemental essays.
We understand how you might sweat at the mere thought of filling out all the documents. That is why we've come up with a few helpful hints that will make your task a lot easier.
Harvard Supplemental Essays: Why Are They Necessary?
The reader may ask, "Why do I have to submit the supplemental essays?" The submissions are maintained to preserve three of Harvard's fundamental values - leadership, community, and intellectualism. Admission officers want to enroll students that can greatly contribute to the university community. So, information submitted in applications should be meaningful and persuade the Harvard Admission Board you're the right candidate for being admitted to such a prestigious educational institution.
Apart from submitting the subject tests taken in the past three years, you need to submit a Harvard application essay or rather several essays. You'll get the topics and formatting requirements for all the pieces except for the optional one. Technically, you don't have to submit the latter at all, but we strongly advise that you do and later in the article, we'll tell you why. In the application essays, it is necessary to not just mindlessly fill out the application form but really show you wish to engage with an undergraduate experience that will both change and challenge you.
By defining each of the Harvard application essays, we will help you feel the difference between an optional supplement and other pieces of the application and learn what to include in it.
Application essay #1
This is the piece of writing that allows for showing many facets of your experience not included in your common application activity list. It is designed to show how you've taken one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences and what knowledge and skills you got there. Talking about a thing you've been doing for a long time is a winning idea, but if you are eager to write about an activity you've just started, you can captivatingly narrate why you decided to take it up and what you've already learned.
For evaluators, this essay will help build up a picture of you as an applicant with a genuine interest for work and self-development. Avoid writing about the experience gained without pleasure or under pressure, unless it is connected to your substantive growth and development.
Speaking of the length of this paper, it is required to be of about 150 words. This word limit doesn't allow to speak circumlocutory, so think of the removal of identifying details not essential for conveying your view. In the introduction, try to grab the attention with pieces of anecdotal writing. In the subsequent parts of the text, use the verbs related to activities and analytical insights. Avoid unnecessary background information and write directly about the effect of your experience on you.
Application essay #2
The main goal of this piece of the application is to show additional intellectual activities you were engaged in that could be helpful to the university community. From this paper, evaluators should see that your intellectual potential is not limited to your school study plan. It is a perfect place to include your non-scholastic supervised or self-directed activities. You may describe the non-school online courses, research programs, or trainings you attended that were not mentioned or detailed elsewhere.
The recommendations to length are reproduced as in the first essay, so you need to be as concise as possible. In the beginning, again, you can use anecdotal writing. Later, concentrate on analytical insights. As with the first essay, try not to use inactive verbs and fillers that make your speech less confident and reasonable.
Application essay #3
The third essay you may need to write within the Harvard admission process is an optional one. Maybe, you would like to include extra important information about yourself and your achievements that do not fit the format of other application forms. But this essay is your last chance to quell any last doubts of evaluators, so do not neglect using it to give a fuller picture of yourself as a good candidate. You can compare it to the letter sent along with a resume to a potential employer: it is not obligatory, but if it grabs their attention, you have more chances to win over other candidates who are no less skillful and experienced than you.
This document is not limited to a certain number of words and a topic. Thus, you are free to choose the length and content of this essay. Nevertheless, it is necessary that you maintain the singular goal of the paper - show your genuine desire to engage and further invest in Harvard's educative community.
7 Best Ideas for Writing a Supplemental Essay
You've come to a thought, "What suits best to reveal about my personality?" That is why we offer you a number of topics that Harvard lists as jumping-off points for your supplemental essay. The Admission Board themselves allows applicants to preserve the right to choose any other topic they please.
Extraordinary situations in your life
One of the common errors in submissions is describing an experience unique in your circumstances but not unique for all other university applicants. So, to make your essay exceptional, you may tell about a health issue you may have encountered in your life or an interesting hobby - restoring old cars or something like that. In short, consider those things that would distinguish you among a crowd of other candidates.
What you've experienced while working or traveling
Choose this prompt to describe your unrepeatable experience that involves a broader purpose than becoming more worldly or culturally aware. It should be about your unique perspective and the impact of living abroad or working somewhere on your life.
The most meaningful intellectual experience in your life
Consider this topic as a good option for showing your intellectual vitality and rendering how you exercise your passions. It can be related to a course, project, book, poetry, or research in any of the topics you've dealt with. Like with other topics for supplement essay, you will be able to illustrate your passion for showing evaluators the diverse range of interests you may have.
One of the successful applicants told us, "In my personal narrative, I decided to tell them about my non-scholastic researching work in neuroscience. In my research, I was studying the complex workings of the brain domain. Thus, I wanted to tell them about the origins of my current passion and how I plan to develop it further."
The desired way of applying your college knowledge in your career
If you choose this theme, you can show how you see applying your intellectual passion to your vision of the world. But make sure you're telling about your future dream that is somehow connected with your present experiences and passions.
What books have inspired you most in your life
Not to sound dry while listing the books you've read recently, try to add an element of personality to your list. One of the successful applicants said, "I just put examples of my personal attitude to every book in parentheses after the title. There, I tried to show my sense of humor, ability to analyze, and connection between the books and my passions." Whether you've read the books that can be listed showing your progression through a topic or if you simply want to list books that don't relate to one another, try to make the list revealing and enjoyable to read.
A situation when you had to choose whether to act with integrity
As it is said in the Harvard College Honor code, university community holds honesty as its foundation. Therefore, the integrity of your personal narrative will increase your chances of standing out from the crowd of applicants. Yet make sure it won't make you appear like a problem for the university. Choose any topic with the exception of illegal or morally questionable things. Write about the situation when you managed to preserve integrity but faced severe consequences. For instance, you may tell how you've ended your friendship over social class, ethnicity or race prejudices of your friend, or about situations in your life that are now known as mistakes and made you mature from them.
A situation when you contributed to the lives of people around or showed strong citizenship
Harvard declares as one of its missions educating students to be helpful citizens for society. Within this topic, there is more focus on the leadership aspect. Evaluators will most likely expect you to write about educating your peers or being a role model in the face of modern challenges. Try to avoid discussing a broad well-known issue; instead, bring up an underrated topic. For example, it can be a plastic eliminating campaign already sponsored by you, or a campaign to encourage your future fellow students to end using it on campus.
There are a lot of topics to choose that would show what you already know about the university and how its programs can help you. If you thought carefully over it, your optional essay would become the final component of an application showing you as a candidate with a strong will to study at Harvard, improve its community, and grow personally.
Are There Any Peculiarities of Writing Harvard Supplemental Essays in 2019?
Frankly, the differences in submissions are not evident in comparison with Harvard supplemental essays 2017-2018. Even though there are no particular requirements, we offer several tips for answering this question:
- Keep it reasonably short. Although there is no set Harvard supplemental essay word limit, anywhere between 500 and 700 words would be just the proper length.
- Make it unique. Be careful as not to write about something you have already mentioned in your other essays.
- Surprise them. You must realize that dozens of other people will whip out all their skills to impress the committee, so dedicate some time to go through forums, talk to your peers, and fish for information. Include something nobody else would even come up with!
- Make sure that your essay meets the Harvard University mission by showing:
- How you differ from the mass
- That you are a proactive leader who cares for other people
- How you take part in community life outside academia
- How you use your skills to help the community
- How entering Harvard will make it possible for you to serve the wellbeing of your region and the whole of humanity.
What makes the Harvard supplemental essay distinctive is the freedom of expression you get. You should take advantage of that and make your paper memorable. Keep in mind that members of the Admission Board have to read way too many applications, so show your creativity as if you sent your work to an art contest. You have to grab their attention and show your motivation.
Start writing well in advance, and once you finish it, let it "rest" for a while before proofreading it yourself or having someone else look at it for you. Then, revise it again and show the final product to somebody else. Ask them how they feel about it.
Remember that you can always choose our professional writing help. Why not? Professional writers will proofread your Harvard supplemental essay and eliminate any errors in it. If you say, "I could write supplemental essay myself, but I am afraid it won't disclose my personality the way I'd want to," we can do that for you as well! Our expert academic writers have vast experience dealing with supplemental essays. That is why they will write an impressive paper from scratch so that it would be unique and produce a lasting impression on the committee.
Since this is your only opportunity to enter the university of your dream, this option may prove to be the best solution. You can contact our support team if you have questions, and they will be happy to provide you with any academic writing help you need!