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How to Write the Williams College Supplemental Essay

“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. Typed is preferable, but we will accept handwritten pieces. Please do not submit lab reports. If submitting this optional paper, please include a description of the assignment or prompt.“

While Williams does not require a writing supplement, they do give their applicants the option to showcase their talents by submitting an academic paper. Here, we’ll break down how to select the right paper to demonstrate your writing abilities and potential as a future Williams student!

Williams provides some guidelines for their optional writing supplement, it must be an academic paper completed in the last year, ideally 3-5 pages long, and cannot be a lab report. These guidelines are still very open ended, so how do you choose which paper is best?

Williams does not require that you submit a graded paper, but selecting an essay on which you received positive feedback can help assure you’re putting your best foot forward. While you should select a paper you did well on, small grade fluctuations shouldn’t be the final deciding factor for the paper you choose to send. Instead, consider whether paper best demonstrates your writing skills and showcases engaging, well-organized content. This content should also be highly original, so avoid papers that contain large quotations of other texts or rely heavily on outside sources, as these won’t be the most thorough examples of your writing abilities!

At Williams, emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary learning, taking control over one’s own education, and deeply exploring topics of interest. When selecting your academic paper, try to find essays that reflect at least one or more of these values. Did you write an English essay that also demonstrates a nuanced understanding of history or science? Did you design your own creative writing project that allowed you to engage with one of your passions? Or maybe you explored a niche subject in great detail, writing a paper that demonstrates your ability to dive into an unfamiliar topic. Take time to go through the papers you’ve written in the last year, and see which align best with Williams’ academic values.

In summary, your Williams essay should:

  • Be well-written and organized
  • Demonstrate original thinking
  • Address at least one of Williams key academic values such as interdisciplinary learning, taking control over one’s own education, or deeply exploring a topic of interest.