How to Write the Wellesley Supplement 2019-2020

Wellesley is a private women’s liberal arts college located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Students can cross-register courses at Babson College, Brandeis University, Olin College of Engineering, and MIT. Wellesley received over 6,000 applications last year, and the acceptance rate for the class of 2023 was 20%.

This might sound counterintuitive, but don’t start by looking at the prompt. If you’re applying to Wellesley and already looked at the prompt, erase it from your memory. The wording is unnecessarily flowery (read: intimidating) and will likely send you into a tailspin. There’s a lot going on, and before you can properly address the question you need to figure some things out on your own. The rest of this post will explain how to do so, but first a note on the word count.

Wellesley’s supplement does not include a word count. We get questions about it often, and there was some confusion on their end last year when we called the school to clarify. They said that there is a word count included on the common app website, which was not the case. Instead of a word count, there was a document upload feature. And we tested its limits by uploading everything from 25-word haiku to a 5,000-word masters thesis. We were able to upload both (and everything in between) successfully.  

The college application process is stressful enough as it is, and in our opinion not including a word count is cruel. Students have enough to worry about and when there is no word count, it makes them feel like whatever they’re doing is wrong. You should use your best judgment when it comes to how long your supplement is, but know that we’re capping our clients who are applying to Wellesley at 500 words. There is no need for anything longer.  

Instead of looking at the prompt, look at your list of adjectives and phrases. If you don’t have one already, make one. Ask your friends how they would describe you. Ask yourself what you want Wellesley to know about you, then take a good look at your application and try to discern what they already know about you. Your goal with this supplement is to show them something new about yourself. They know about your grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities; but what about the more personal touches, your soft skills, and quirks? This includes your hobbies and passions that you haven’t had the space to explore in other areas of your application.

Let’s say you narrow your list down to the following: 

·      I love cooking and all things related to food

·      I’m a history buff, and have read these books:

·      I’m creative: (examples of creativity)

·      I’m happiest when I’m outside exploring nature

·      I’ve done into deep research holes about X, Y, and Z.

·      I edit videos and other multimedia projects

·      I’m introverted/extroverted

·      I write music

Once you have it finalized, you’ll probably find that you’ve already shown some of the qualities on your list somewhere else in your application. If you adore cooking, but wrote your common app on How To Cook Eggs, that’s out. Why? Because you don’t want to double down on any quality. Remember: if you could only describe yourself in three words to Wellesley, you wouldn’t say “chef” twice. Maybe you’re all in on your aspiring music career, but your list of extracurricular activities tell that story. Cross that one off too.  

What you should be left with is a narrowed down list of personality traits, phrases, and deeply resonating self-truths. Then you can look at the prompt, copied and pasted below.  

When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the ''Wellesley 100'' is a good place to start. Visit and let us know, in two well developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (p.s. ''Why'' matters to us.)

We are aware that we’re working backwards here, but if you start by looking at the Wellesley 100 you’re bound to get tripped up. You’ll scan the list and get stuck on the most “important” sounding items. You’ll convince yourself you want to go to Wellesley because Hilary Clinton went there. You’ll become certain, for no reason, that you’re now applying (early!) to Wellesley because of the neuroscience research opportunities even if you’ve never set foot in a science lab. But those things aren’t you, and your supplement needs to be.

Now, cross reference your list above with the Wellesley 100. At the risk of making things more complicated, you should choose one academic-related topic and one extracurricular-related topic. Without explicitly stating it, this question is Wellesley’s version of “Why X School?” They want to know how you plan to spend your time at Wellesley, both inside and outside of the classroom. When we work with clients on this supplement, they have no choice but to choose something academic and something found outside of the classroom. This is because you won’t be spending all of your time in the classroom, and it’s a way to show that you have interests that go beyond your desired major. College isn’t just about going to class. Wellesley has a lot to offer in terms of student organizations, on campus culture, etc., and those offerings are included on the Wellesley 100 because they’re proud of them.

Finding two things to write about might take a while, and you’ll need to do some research. Don’t stop at “Lulu.” Yes, Lulu is a building on a campus. But what else? The more research you do, the easier it will become to find two list items that relate back to the characteristics you hope to express in your supplement. This is really important advice: at first glance the list seems daunting, but it’s really only daunting if you’re looking at it on surface level. There’s a ton of material here, you just have to do the diligent work of finding something that fits your uniqueness. On the contrary, if you’ve exhausted every list item and still feel uninspired then you might consider not applying to Wellesley.

A quick note: Last year when we were working on this supplement, a few items from the Wellesley 100 changed slightly. You can write about anything on the list, but we suggest copying and pasting your potential picks onto a word document should anything be changed or edited while you’re writing.  

We love helping students figure out where they want to apply, and why. Contact us here if you want help.