How To Write the Bard College Supplement

Bard College is a super small liberal arts school of 2,000 undergraduates in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. The student:faculty ratio is 10:1 and they are serious about liberal arts. Their supplement is brief, but notable—here’s how to tackle their supplemental question:

In 250 words or less, how do you imagine yourself living and learning at Bard?

This is a relatively textbook, “Why X School?” essay, just with slightly different wording and a limited word count.

We’d be remiss to not note the “living and learning” phrasing in this question. We’ve mentioned before that it’s crucial to read into what colleges choose as their supplement questions because they say a lot about the school as a whole. This word choice speaks to that point. If for some reason this question irks you, or you don’t love the way that this is phrased then we encourage you to consider your choice to apply to Bard. It’s a wonderful school, but just like every college, it’s not for everyone.

This question is all about your research. You have to do it. There’s no way out of it. You’re going to do more research than you need to and gather more content than you’re going to include, but trust us—it will give you a great sense of the school and that knowledge will come through in your writing. Schools can tell when people just gave their website a cursory glance and when they actually delved in, read about various classes and professors’ research, and even went on visits (they can actually tell this, it’s in your file).

First, you’re going to do academic research. Decide what you want to study (it can be just for the sake of the application. Bard won’t hold you to the major that you declare in your supplement). It can be something you’re passionate about, interested in, or something that you just plain don’t hate. If you’re a humanities person and have taken all humanities AP classes, don’t choose Math. It won’t compute. The admissions readers will undoubtedly recognize that something is off. Begin with your own interest—make it your own. Tell a short story (it only takes one sentence) about the background of your interest. Mention 1-2 classes that pique your interest and a professor whose research fascinates you. The primary focus of your 250-word response should be your academic focus—it is college, after all. But then transition into your cultural contribution to the school and what fascinates you about Bard’s community.

Here is where you discuss your interest in specific aspects of Bard that make it unique. Perhaps it’s the location—Annandale-on-Hudson is technically not even a town. It’s a hamlet within the town of Red Hook, NY in Hudson County. Hamlets are used to describe unincorporated communities (think: unofficial village) within legal. The hamlet of Annandale is owned nearly completely by Bard College, save for a few private residences. It’s a fascinating set of circumstances if you want to study Environmental and Urban Studies, for example. We digress. Investigate some clubs or organizations that you’re interested in at Bard, and share how you would contribute to them. Incorporate Bard’s offerings into your set of interests, not the other way around. Colleges are looking for driven, motivated students with intentions to dive into their communities in meaningful ways. They are looking for students with clear paths and the willingness to step out of their comfort zones to accomplish what they want.

Let us know if you need help navigating this short, but sweet supplemental question. If you have any questions about Bard in general, we’d be happy to field those as well.