The sun is setting on the summer of 2015, but when it rises at the start of the school year it will bring with it all of the excitement and stress associated with college applications for high school seniors everywhere. Choosing schools, obtaining recommendations - you will have a lot of things going on. But don't worry! You can save yourself some stress, time, and effort by reusing your supplement essays for multiple applications. Though this is a shortcut, you must be careful not to take the easy way out. Recycling essays will save some effort but don't forget you will still have to maintain focus. Use these super helpful tips on learning how to successfully recycle your supplement essays.

  1. Organize your applications - Make a chart of each school you are applying to and whether they require the Common Application essay, a supplement essay, or both. This way if you find that one or more supplement essay questions are similar to or the same as a Common App prompt you can select accordingly.
  2. Only use a topic once per application Don't submit the same essay twice on one application or write about the same topic twice on an application. If a school requires both the Common Application essay and a supplement that are similar do not submit the same essay. Admissions counselors will already have seen the Common App essay. Use the supplement essay as an opportunity to showcase something they do not already know about you!
  3. Avoid obvious mistakes For supplement essays that ask why you want to attend the school you are applying to, you can often reuse the same essay for multiple schools, as long as you're very, very VERY careful. Make sure that you don't accidentally include the wrong college's name in your essay. For example, don't write about why you want to go to Cornell on your NYU application. To enhance your essay, you should research each school and provide specifics to show your interest and that you know information about the school. For example: "I am interested in the stem cell research being done at NYU because..." Be specific about each school, recycle only parts about yourself or your major. You can say that you admire the Pre-Med program in both supplement essays while also keeping in mind the specifics about each program in each supplement.
  4. Answer the question at hand Be careful when recycling essays so that you don't accidentally avoid the question and give too many details regarding something the university is not even asking you. Some questions are similar enough to recycle most of an essay, but you can never recycle the whole thing. Remember to ask yourself if you are carefully answering the question as you write and read your essays.
  5. When reusing complete sentences... If you are reusing an essay with a similar, but not identical question, make sure that you have removed words that you extracted from one question in the other essay as to not give away that you are reusing that essay.
  6. Show not tell When talking about why you want to go to a certain school, spend more time showing what you know about the school and how you would be a good fit rather than writing an essay talking about how great you are. It's important, especially when reusing essays, that you show what you can contribute to and learn from a school's specific student body.

With these super helpful tips, you'll be able to reuse several of your essays/supplements and save major time. Of course, sometimes prompts just don't fit. Whatever you do, don't try forcing a reused an essay on a completely unrelated topic from the prompt; admissions counselors know when you are doing this. If need be, just create a new one.