Should I Do The Optional Harvard Supplement?

In what is probably the most ‘get to the point’ post we’ve ever written: YES. You should absolutely do the Optional Harvard Supplement.

If we have you convinced, go check out our advice on how to write it.

If you aren’t convinced yet, please keep reading.

Getting into Harvard is a pretty big deal. It’s the big deal of big deals. The biggest deal. Their admissions rate is one of the lowest in the world - just above 5% - so a tiny piece of your application is crucial. Because of this, every opportunity you get to showcase yourself should be heralded as a gift.

Which is to say that there is no such thing as an optional supplement. It’s like when your parents ask you to set the table for dinner or to watch your sibling while they go out on date night. It’s not really optional. You could say no, but you’d still have to do it, so the idea of you having any say in the matter is false. You’re being voluntold to do it, and we’re voluntelling you to write the supplement.

Yes, we know it’s miserable. Yes, we know you’re tired and taking on more work seems ridiculous and unmanageable. Yes, we’re here to help you if you need support. But whether you work with a pro or decide to go solo, you have to do it. Every Harvard applicant is so ridiculously impressive that doing the supplement isn’t just important, it’s imperative.

Like we said, you need to take every opportunity to show who you are, and strong writing is what will take you from a maybe, or even a no, to a yes. This is especially true if you’re in the 25-50th percentile so already on the cusp of having your application disregarded.

But, don’t worry too much, we have tips to help you out! And, if you’re curious as to what the fuss is about, check out the (not so) optional supplement below.

Harvard’s ‘Optional’ Supplement 2017-2018

You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:

  • Unusual circumstances in your life
  • Travel or living experiences in other countries
  • What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
  • An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
  • How you hope to use your college education
  • A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
  • The Harvard College Honor code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  • The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
  • You may write on a topic of your choice.

Please note: If you do not intend to provide a response to this optional question, you do not need to submit the writing supplement. If you encounter any problems submitting your application, please upload a document that says “Not Applicable” and hit submit.”