How to Write the Northwestern Supplement 2019-2020

Northwestern University is a private research university ‘headquartered’ Evanston, Illinois and with satellite campuses in Chicago, Illinois, and Doha, Qatar. There are 21,000 students in total across the campuses and 8,600 undergraduate students. Northwestern is known as an academically excellent institution and one of a small group of highly coveted non-Ivy League schools with an overall acceptance rate in the single digits. However, Northwestern may be best known for the Performing Arts department. Seth Meyers is a graduate of the program, along with many other big Hollywood names.

We really appreciate Northwestern for publishing the Regular Decision acceptance rate and the Early Decision acceptance rate. It’s nearly always easier to get into a school Early Decision, but few applicants realize how much of a difference there is. At Northwestern, the most recent Regular Decision acceptance rate was a mere 6.4%. The Early Decision acceptance rate was a soaring 25%. This makes for an average acceptance rate of 8.9% when adjusted for how many more students apply RD than ED.

Which is all to say, you should seriously consider applying to your top attainable choice Early Decision.

The 2019-2020 Northwestern supplement is the same as last year, but we like to take a fresh look anyway.

Other parts of your application give us a sense for how you might contribute to Northwestern. But we also want to consider how Northwestern will contribute to your interests and goals. In 300 words or less, help us understand what aspects of Northwestern appeal most to you, and how you'll make use of specific resources and opportunities here. 

Do you plan to complete the ''Why Northwestern'' Statement?
(We HIGHLY recommend you complete this essay.)* (300 words)

Ok, we have a quick bone to pick. @Northwestern, why make this supplement optional if you are so emphatic that people do it? The only reason that we can think of is that you want to raise your application numbers, and one of the easiest ways to do that with no investment is to make the supplement optional, and we think it’s shady and also super obvious. If you are interested in Northwestern, this supplement isn’t optional. This only further underlines our stance on ‘optional supplements.’ If you’ve read any of our other supplement posts, you know that optional doesn’t mean optional, so the all-caps emphasis isn’t necessary for us.

Three hundred words is short, but it is enough space to fit everything that we want you to include.

First, you should start with an anecdote or a short story that ties you to the academics and activities that you will be emphasizing in this supplement. For example, you could start by writing about a lab experience that combines your dual passions for biology and animal rights, which you will be continuing to pursue at Northwestern.

After the anecdote, you continue into how you will pursue your passions at Northwestern. Ground the anecdote at Northwestern. You need to include your prospective major, a professor or two you would like to work with and why, and a class you are interested in taking. You should also try to mention a specific program or research in a particular area that you’d like to take part in.

After exploring your academic path, you need to take your supplement outside of the classroom. If you are intending on playing a sport, this is where to mention it. You should specify if you intend on playing on a club, intramural, or official NCAA team. Do not say that you are going to join the NCAA Division I soccer team unless you have had significant conversations with the coach. This is also the place to mention if you have visited the campus. Keep the mention short and focus on the specifics. They know you visited. It’s in your file. You don’t need to drive home something they already know, and they certainly do not need to be reminded how pretty the campus is or how ‘cool’ and ‘grounded’ the students seem to be.

When closing out this supplement, circle back to your starting anecdote and emphasize how you can see yourself at Northwestern.


If you are struggling with how to use your Early Decision ‘card,’ give us a call. We are experts at crafting perfect-fit college lists that position you for success.