How to Write the Smith College Supplemental Essay 2020-2021
Smith College is a private liberal arts women’s college in Western Massachusetts. The school boasts small class sizes and close advising for over 50 areas of study. Smith is also part of both the Five College Consortium, allowing students to take courses and participate in extracurriculars at Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and UMass Amherst. Students applying for financial aid will be happy to know that Smith guarantees to meet full demonstrated financial need of admitted students.
In the 2019-2020 cycle, Smith had 5,597 applicants and admitted 1,817 for an acceptance rate of 32%. This rate has decreased over the years, and the increasing applicant pool certainly makes it a competitive process. Luckily, we can help you tackle the required essay
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While it might be tempting to overthink this essay and look for an answer that feels “intellectual,” like a piece of classical music, you should go with your instincts. The more authentic you are, the stronger your essay will be. If a work of classical music does speak to you though, go for it. But if you feel a really strong connection to a recent pop song, that’s fine too. Either way, your essay needs to be authentic. And keep in mind that this is a very short essay—just 50-100 words!
If you’re having trouble coming up with a song to write about, look at the clues in the prompt. Can you think of a song that brought you joy, inspired you, validated you, or healed you? Or, if none of the examples in the prompt ring a bell, you might want to look inward: when and why do you listen to music?
The piece of music you choose doesn’t have to be your favorite; it just has to be meaningful to you. Perhaps there’s a piece of music you hear in a specific context that is deeply meaningful to you, and you can use the piece of music as an opening to talk about that context. For example, if you grew up in Tokyo, you might talk about the song “Yuyake Koyake,” which was played every day at 5 o’clock in the park to signal to children that it was time to go home. You could talk about the feelings of nostalgia that come up when you hear the song, and what it was like to move from Tokyo to Indiana.
Once you’ve picked a song or piece, you can work on answering the “why” question. If the music you’ve chosen resonates with you deeply, explaining its meaning to you should be relatively natural. Think beyond the superficial as you write this.
Here are some examples of weak vs. strong reasoning:
Weak reasoning: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is my favorite piece of music because I think it is truly beautiful.
Strong reasoning: Woman Is A Word by Empress Of resonates with me because it’s an empowering feminist anthem that has inspired me to embrace myself beyond stereotypical femininity. “I’m only a woman if woman is a word,” Empress Of sings. To me, this means that we need to go beyond words—”woman” is just a word, but I exist regardless of that word in all my complexity.
The weak example is not good because it is superficial and basic. Any student could say that they think a piece of music is beautiful. The strong example is better because it is specific and detailed. It not only refers to an aspect of the song, but links it to something that is unique to the writer. But even in the case of the stronger example, the student would need to elaborate in order to reach the word limit.
A little bit of creativity will strengthen your essay. Once you nail down which song you would like to discuss, brainstorm how you can link parts of the song—like the beat or the lyrics—to your passions, your values, and your character. The stronger and more personal you make the connections, the better your essay will be.
Overall, your first instinct is best, since it’s your most genuine response to the prompt. In a short essay, you want to provide as much insight into your personality as possible. Don’t be afraid to open up and be authentic! Make sure your voice shines through your essay. Try to really give the admissions office a glimpse into your mind and your life.
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