How to Write the Smith College Supplemental Essays 2019-2020
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 2018-2019 cycle, Smith had 5,780 applicants and admitted 1,789 for an acceptance rate of 31%. 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 necessary essays.
There is one required prompt for all applicants, and another if you’re planning to apply to the Ada Comstock Scholars Program. Want to know your chances at Smith? Calculate your chances for free right now.
For All Applicants
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 genuinely have fun! The more authentic you are, the stronger your essay will be. If a work of classical music does speak to you, 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.
Once you know what your actual answer is, you can work on answering the “why” question. If the music you’ve chosen is something that genuinely speaks to you, then this part should be easy. Think beyond the superficial as you write this.
Weak: This is my theme song because I really like the beat of the music.
Strong: This song resonates with me because the beat perfectly matches my footsteps when I run, an activity that has led me to state championships and greater self-confidence.
The weak example is not good because it is superficial and basic. Any student could say that they like the beat of the music. 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–something that not any student could say.
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 descriptions of you, whether that’s your passions, your values, or your character. The stronger and more personal that the connections are, the better your essay will be.
Overall, your first instinct is the best, as that will be your most genuine response. In a short essay, you want to provide the best insight into your personality possible, so emphasize authenticity and depth as you write.
For Applicants to the Ada Comstock Scholars Program
The Ada Comstock Scholars Program is designed for women of nontraditional college age to earn a bachelor of arts degree in a more flexible manner. Scholars may pursue their degrees part-time or full-time, and will have special options for reduced course loads, academic advising, career counseling, and housing. There are 30 openings in the program, and admittance is based on performance in college-level classes, recommendation letters, extracurriculars, and the autobiographical essay.
A personal statement is a little different from a standard undergraduate essay. It doesn’t demand as much creativity or vivid imagery. Instead, a personal essay should convey your development as a thinker and a student to create a comprehensive understanding of your character and your values—the things you would contribute to the community.
Think about the experiences you have had that have shaped you, whether those are jobs, athletics, or personal responsibilities. These experiences will establish the structure and organization of your whole essay, as these are the core elements.
Within your discussion of these experiences, make sure to explain your role, the outcome, and the impact it had on you. Of these three, the impact it had on you is the most important to focus on. Elaborate on how the experience changed you or shaped your perspective so that your readers can develop a sense of who you are from your writing. Readers should be able to see how the combination of your experiences have shaped you into a multi-faceted, well-rounded student and person.
You’ll have around two pages single-spaced for your personal statement, but be careful with how you write. If there are too many long sentences, the essay becomes monotonous to read, which can be dangerous if a reader still has to read one and a half pages. Even though the personal statement might not be the most dynamic format, make sure that your language is still engaging. Use longer sentences and shorter sentences, and read your essay out loud to make sure it doesn’t sound “boring” to your ears. You can, of course, also tell stories in your personal statement, rather than just stating your experiences. Feel free to weave in an anecdote or two, and still incorporate dialogue, when appropriate.
That said, try to avoid cramming too many different experiences into the essay. Although two pages is quite a lot of space, it’s better to use that space to really develop your best few experiences instead of trying to fit in every single experience you’ve ever had. Writing about too much will make your essay feel rushed; by cutting it down, you can expand on the impact and show us the change it caused.
Ultimately, your autobiographical essay is the story of you—what experiences made you the person you are, and who is that person? Focus on answering these questions thoroughly and with authenticity.
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