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How to Answer the Vanderbilt Supplemental Essay Prompts 2019-2020

NOV 10, 2019 • 5 min read

Vanderbilt University only has one supplemental essay. Short, sweet and to the point - this also gives you only one chance to make a lasting impact on admissions officers.

If your not sure how to answer the Vanderbilt supplemental essay prompt for 2019-2020, these tips from our expert essay mentors should help you get started!

If you would like your essay reviewed by an expert so you can feel confident when submitting your college application, get your essay reviewed by Crimson.


Essay: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150-400 words)

Given that Vanderbilt’s supplemental question is so broad, it can be difficult to know which of your extracurricular activities or work experiences to write about. Because the supplemental question is meant to tell the Admissions Committee more about you, you should choose an activity that you did not write about elsewhere in your application. The Admissions Committee is trying to get to know more about you, so let them. Ask yourself, which activity or work experience do I care the most deeply about? If you enjoyed playing guitar in the school jazz band more than being captain of the debate team, write about playing the guitar. Don’t pick the activity that you think will look the most impressive. An honest supplement essay will come across as the most sincere and better engage the reader.

Once you’ve chosen your activity or work experience, what should you say about it? As always, it best to show not tell. Elaborate on your activity by telling a story and demonstrating what you have learned through that experience. Maybe you taught yourself how to play the guitar because you went to a jazz band performance and decided the band was so great that you wanted to join. You could write about the struggles and successes that occurred throughout learning how to play the guitar. Perhaps you learned a great lesson in perseverance after you struggled through a solo during a performance but after practicing diligently for the next month, you performed it perfectly at the next concert. Whatever the story, always ask yourself, what is my story demonstrating? The best essays will not just talk about something they care about but display a positive characteristic about the applicant that is not exemplified in other parts of the application. However, always remember to stay humble.

Lastly, despite Vanderbilt’s supplement question having a fairly large word limit, make sure not to add unnecessary information. Does each sentence of your essay add value to your application? Is it a sentence that no other applicant will have in their essay? If not, go back and revise. However, do not pontificate to hit the word limit. If you are content with your well-written essay that is slightly less than 400 words, there is no need to add unnecessary content just to hit the limit.

Hopefully these tips will give you a better idea of where to start your Vanderbilt supplement essay. Good luck!

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