How to Write the Hamilton College Supplement

By: Caroline Koppelman

While the primary criteria for admission to Hamilton are academic achievement, intellectual promise and community engagement, Hamilton also seeks to admit candidates who are a good fit with the programs and experiences offered by the College. Please take this opportunity to tell us about your interest in Hamilton and, particularly, why you believe it is a place where you can thrive. Be open. Be honest. Be brief. (250 word maximum)

Hamilton’s short answer essay is optional, but you should answer it. 

When answering any supplements about why you’re applying to a certain school, you always need to do your research. However, we find that most of our student’s first instinct is to research the major or program that they want to be in. While this is important, there are many other aspects you should consider. Hamilton is a small liberal arts school and takes pride in its campus and culture. Your supplement should demonstrate that you understand Hamilton’s culture, what makes it different from its competitors, and how you’ll fit into it. 

That said, you still need to figure out what you want to study. You probably don’t know exactly what you want to major in, which is normal, but choose the major or majors that interest you most. We generally advise our clients against saying they’re undecided. If you want to study something that most colleges offer (English, psychology, math, etc.) do research to find out what makes Hamilton’s program unique. Read through the courses and do extensive research on the professors until something you read genuinely excites you. 

The first part is easy. The second part, which is talking about why you’re a good fit at the school, is much more difficult. If you can, you should visit the school. Talk to as many students as possible to really get the feel for the school. You need to show you know what you’re talking about, and you can’t just list things off that you find on the website. Avoid saying you’re excited to be on such a diverse campus because that says nothing about you. Avoid buzzwords and cliches like the plague. Find out what activities you want to do outside of classes, where you might want to work on campus, or current initiatives taking place that interest you. One sentence mentioning why you want to live on the light side vs the dark side will tell the admissions committee you did your research and you understand the nuances of the school. 

The Hamilton essay is technically optional. Don’t even think about not doing it. Essays are the key way to differentiate yourself from the tens of thousands of other applicants to a school. Not writing the essay shows a severe lack of commitment and interest. But if you write a compelling, well-researched essay, you can prove to the admissions committee you belong there.