How to Write the Colgate University Supplement 2019-2020

Colgate University is a private liberal arts college in Hamilton, NY. Their small size, just under 3,000 undergraduate students, can be deceptive. They offer 56 majors, providing students with a wide breadth of academic options. An institutional commitment to sustainability guides all of their programs. In April 2019, Colgate became the first school of higher education in New York to reach carbon neutrality. They also have a community garden, an on-campus produce stand, and they prioritize locally-sourced food in the dining room. Looking off-campus, many students are involved in the Colgate Hunger Outreach Program, which works to address hunger locally. Last year, their acceptance rate is 22.6%.

Colgate has two prompts, each with a limit of 250 words.

At Colgate, we believe that a diverse community is a strong community. Reflect on an experience that demonstrates your commitment to inclusion and diversity.

This is an interesting question because it can trip people up and cause them to fall into bad habits or less-than-awesome language if they aren’t careful. If you are thorough and thoughtful, it may be one of your favorite supplements!

In answering it, you will need to talk about an experience, not a feather in your hat. This is to say that you absolutely should not write about how you are in a diversity club or that you have friends of different races or ethnicities. Instead, this supplement offers an opportunity to explore a specific way that inclusiveness and diversity have played out in your life. People who live in homogenous areas sometimes experience an impulse to talk about a trip abroad to a place that was culturally different from their hometown to answer this question. If you are part of this group, please resist this impulse. If you give in to it, your supplement can quickly come to sound like you are writing about a poverty safari.

Here, smaller stories are undoubtedly better.

An example of the set-up for a small story happened to one of our writers recently. She was at the post office filling out an address label for a package and heard a couple puzzling over a custom’s form. They were speaking in Spanish, and the form was in English. They had asked a post office employee for help, but she didn’t speak Spanish so couldn’t explain. After considering whether it would be seen as rude or if she would sound silly, our writer leaned over and politely offered, in Spanish, to help them with the form.

This is a good example because, from this point, writing this story for this supplement could go really well, or it could blow up in your face. It all depends on what you do next. The wrong decision would be to use this set-up as a way to write about how you helped them and how that makes you a great person. The more advisable route would be to reflect on how, despite regions being mostly, or even majority, Spanish-speaking, we don’t accommodate for Spanish-speakers in our public systems, like the US Postal Service. This builds visible and experiential barriers that undermine the autonomy of Spanish-speakers. Helping someone out by speaking second-grade-level Spanish is the right thing to do even if you are self-conscious about it at the moment.

With over 500 liberal arts and sciences colleges in the United States, what inspired you to apply to Colgate?

The keyword in this supplement is “inspired.” Including the word “inspired” immediately differentiates this supplement from most of the other “Why us?” essays that we deal with every college season.

Before starting, write down everything that you like about the school. Next, cross out everything that is about how the school looks, that references people being nice, or that is vague. None of those types of things tell application readers anything about you.

Now that you’ve crossed out most of the list find something, or add something, that is focused on a particular program — preferably an academic one as it is a college. The program you pick should be part of or related to your desired major.  

Once you’ve picked the program, it’s time to write about it. You should include what you would like to major in and how it relates to the program. You should also mention a professor that you would like to work with who is part of the program, and one or two classes you would like to take.

Critically, be sure to link the program you are focusing on to the type of stuff that you are doing now. In fact, you should start your supplement by setting the scene for why the program is so inspiring to you. Throughout the supplement, aim to tell a cohesive story that illuminates why the program you chose to highlight is particularly inspiring to you.


If you have a vision of where you want to be (say, a college that prioritizes sustainability), but aren’t sure what schools are a match, send us a message. We specialize in crafting college lists that resonate with student’s goals and dreams.