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College Essays

College applications without essays: do they exist?

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By Collegewise Staff on March, 24 2023 | 5 minute read

If you're reading this, you likely hate writing essays. 

In this blog, you'll receive some good and bad news, but hopefully, by the end, you'll have some clarity on whether or not students can submit college applications without essays.

Students always ask, "Why do we have to write so many essays for college applications?" And if we're being honest, that's a valid question. Depending on how many schools a student applies to, they could write upwards of a dozen essays, all while working on other application components and school work.

So, why do essays matter? Let's get into it.

Why Do Essays Matter in College Applications?

Academics and test scores are great at highlighting a student's academic abilities, but sometimes they only tell admissions officers part of the story. Essays and extracurriculars, however, allow admissions officers to learn more about what a student is like outside the classroom and on a more personal level. 

Since college admissions committees take a holistic approach to evaluating students, every element of the application is important, including essays.   

Students are typically expected (with certain exceptions) to submit two types of essays on college applications: the personal statement and supplemental essays, and both are very different but equally important to the process. 

The Personal Statement

The personal statement is a 650-word essay that helps colleges get a sense of the applicant's skills, personal traits, unique qualities, ambitions, and how they will apply each of these things to the college (should they be accepted). Students are expected to write one personal statement essay that is submitted to all the colleges they apply to.

This essay is also one of the only opportunities students have to showcase their personality. When reading through thousands of applications, a quirky joke, inspirational message, or compelling story can be just the thing that gets an admission officer's attention. 

Another reason the personal statement holds so much importance is that no student is one-dimensional, and there is more to students than their grade point average (GPA).

The last thing to remember about the personal statement is that it is very easy to fall into a "checklist" approach and write an essay that you think admissions officers want to read.

In situations like these, it usually has the exact opposite effect. 

Suggested reading: 5 Ways to Go Wrong in College Essays

The Supplemental Essay

Unlike the personal statement, the supplemental essay is usually shorter, more direct, highlights college interests, and is specific to a single school. 

In other words, the supplemental essay is a "why us?" essay. 

While there is only one personal statement essay that students are expected to write, the number of supplemental essays can quickly multiply depending on how many colleges a student applies to. 

Different schools provide different prompts that students can choose from, but these essays ultimately aim to determine whether a student is the right fit for a college and whether that college is the right fit for the student. 

Can I Submit College Applications Without Essays?

Yes, there are several colleges that allow students to submit college applications without essays. That being said, if you're a student aiming to attend a highly competitive college, we regret to inform you that you will likely need to write a few essays during the process. 

Although some schools on this list will still expect a personal statement essay, students applying to these colleges are off the hook on writing dozens of supplemental essays. 

Examples of some colleges that do not require supplemental essays:

  • Arizona State University
  • Clemson University
  • DePaul University
  • Drexel University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Colorado-Denver
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Denver
  • University of Iowa

Schools can change their admissions policies at any time, so be sure to do your research and check the school's website for up-to-date information before starting an application.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that although there are some schools to do not require supplemental essays, that doesn't mean students should only apply to these schools. Incorporating one or two can help take some of the pressure off students, but students should also take the time to build out a balanced college list

After all, as college students, you'll be expected to write lots of essays, and college application essays are a good way to practice.


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About Us: With over twenty years of experience, Collegewise counselors and tutors are at the forefront of the ever-evolving admissions landscape. Our work has always centered on you: the student. And just like we’ve always done, we look for ways for you to be your best self - whether in the classroom, in your applications, or in the right-fit college environment. Our range of tools includes counselingtest prepacademic tutoring, and essay management, all with the support of our proprietary platform, leading to a 4x higher than average admissions rates. 


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