19 days ago
Admissions Advice

Williams optional academic paper supplemental essay?


I am applying to Williams College and they have an optional supplemental essay where I can submit a 3-5 page academic paper. I am debating on submitting the supplemental, because I do not think any of my school essays are super strong. However, would not submitting one look bad? Williams is a reach for me, so I want to make sure I do everything to look the best for this school.

Also, would it be okay if I submit an AP essay question (like a long essay question), is that considered an "academic paper"? Or I wrote an essay that has the same idea as my college essay that I like, but I feel like it's too similar to my college essay.

Any advice helps! Thank you.

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Let’s welcome @lilye to the community! Remember to be kind, helpful, and supportive in your responses.
@HelloHome19 days ago

What school is this for? That info would help because some use "academic paper" to refer to a graded paper from school but others use "academic paper" to refer to something more like a research paper that you published with a professor or something like that.

[🎤 AUTHOR]@lilye19 days ago

It's for Williams College

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4 answers

Accepted Answer
18 days ago[edited]

Regardless of whether you are applying to Williams or any other elite college (including Ivys and other LACs), if a requirement is optional, it's not really optional. One of the Harvard supplemental essays is optional but 99% of admits all fill it out. One of Princeton's requirements is a graded paper but 99% of admits submit it as well.

I don't not suggest you make the assumption that you can avoid it or can replace it with an AP question. That's not the point of this requirement.

The prompt reads:

Williams Writing Supplement

For Fall 2022 Applicants

Williams does not require a writing supplement. However, students who are interested in submitting an example of their written work have the option of sharing an academic paper completed within the last year, ideally 3-5 pages in length. The paper does not need to be graded, and can be creative or analytical. Please do not submit lab reports. If submitting this optional paper, please include a description of the assignment or prompt.

What this clearly states is that it needs to be 3-5 pages including a description of the assignment or prompt completed within the last 12 months. Therefore this has to be something you did as a school assignment not something from CollegeBoard like an AP Test prompt. Also it can be either expository writing or a creative piece. That means it can be something evidence based or poetry.

Williams wants to know if you how well you write given an assignment. This is slightly different from the prompts for the Common App because it's evidentiary of your past academic acumen and writing ability, not something that every Williams applicant has to submit in a standardized 650 words like the Common App essays.

I don't understand what you mean by stating you don't think any of your school essays are strong. Are you talking about your college essays or your previous body of work as a high school student?

If you are not a strong writer, then perhaps this is not the right school to apply to because Williams is extremely rigorous just like Amherst and Swarthmore and Pomona. You will have to be a excellent writer to succeed at that college.

Good luck.

17 days ago

Hi @lilye,

I agree with other users here - you should definitely submit an academic paper! Ideally, it will be a submission that is a research or published paper. I'm not sure if you can submit an AP essay question you used for a test since that document is proprietary material that belongs to the College Board. But, if this was a practice test or response, you should submit it without the prompt, but with a title that helps give context to the essay.

Avoid submitting something similar to any other component of your application, like your personal statement or supplemental responses.

Hope this helps! Best of luck with your decision.

Hope this helps!

19 days ago

Considering that you are going for a reach college, I would submit a supplemental essay just to show the college that you are willing to go through the effort of doing something incredible. If you consider your essays to not be your best, it would be strongly suggested to work on this over time. This is so that you can have room to improve it and make sure that it is your best work. Regarding the question about AP being an academic paper, technically it would be considered an academic paper, but I would not suggest doing this because even though it shows your ability in AP exams, it does not show your range of creativity and intellectual ability to such things.

19 days ago

I would think if you have a decent essay if allowed you could go and edit it and fix it up a little bit then I would submit it. Also if your essay question is 3-5 pages then yes I think you could submit it. In short, if you have a decent essay submit it because it shows you are trying your best to get in.


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