How to Write the Macalester College Supplement 2019-2020

Macalester College is a private liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota, also known as the Twin Cities area. The most popular majors at Macalester are economics, mathematics, and biology. Macalester emphasizes hands-on learning outside of the classroom. There are over 200 internship sites within eight miles of campus, and 76% of students take part in at least one internship while at Macalester. This doesn’t stop them from exploring further afield; 60% of Macalester students study abroad.

Macalester has 2174 students, and the acceptance rate is 31%.

Application forms like this often require people to uncomfortably categorize their race, ethnicity, gender, or other identities by checking boxes. Is there anything about your (or your family’s) background that you would like us to know that is not addressed elsewhere in your application? If so, please elaborate. (up to 500 words)

Of Macalester’s three questions, two of them are not geared towards every applicant. This is one of them. If you’ve read many of our posts, we do not believe that optional supplements are optional. However, this one is a bit tricky and requires a bit of an exception from that rule.  

It’s in your best interest to try to find something to put here even if it doesn’t initially seem like it’s a question ‘for you.’ On the flip side, we also don’t believe in taking on a role that isn’t yours to play. If you truly don’t feel like there is anything that you can put here that would be useful for an application reader, it may be best to simply submit a few lines about how you don’t feel you have, in the words of a Customs form, “anything to declare.”  

If this question does resonate with you, it’s best to be open, to be honest, and to tell a story. Whether you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, a member of a racial or ethnic minority, or feel there is something else that is part of your identity that would be helpful for an application reader to know, you have a story to tell. Macalester gives you up to 500 words, but you don’t need to use all of them. The 200-400 tends to work well for most students, although you are welcome to use the full 500 if you feel so inspired.

Has there been a significant fluctuation in your grades at any point during grades 9-12 (up or down)? If so, please tell us the reason(s) for the changes. (up to 500 words)

This is the second of the ‘not for everyone’ questions. If this does not apply to you, we recommend writing a sentence or two stating that your grades have remained steady. Do not use this as a place for self-aggrandizement. Simply saying that you have maintained stability grade-wise is enough. If your grades have fluctuated, it’s critical that you share the reasons for the changes in a way that is transparent and narrative-driven. This is a place to provide an explanation, not a place to make excuses. The good thing is that they want to hear you, so give them a chance to listen to you fully.

You have up to 500 words for this supplement, but most students only need 200-400 to answer it fully.

Macalester is one of few highly selective liberal arts colleges located in the middle of a metropolitan area. Students benefit from the strong sense of community on campus and opportunities to engage in academic, social, and civic engagement options in the Twin Cities. Have you thought about how Macalester's location might impact your experience? If so, in what ways? (up to 500 words)

This is the Macalester question that works for everyone. If you don’t know what they mean when they say “Twin Cities,” you should do some reading on the history and present of the area before starting.

This supplement can be tough for some students because it feels geared towards people who have grown up outside of urban areas. Whether or not you have grown up in an urban area, the best way into this question is to find ways to mesh your academic and extracurricular interests with the benefits of an urban environment. If you are interested in theater, for example, the Twin Cities area is known for having a vibrant theater scene with more theater seats (so more tickets sold and shows run) than nearly any other city in America. Similarly, if you are interested in education being in an urban area increases the number of opportunities you would have to grow as an educator while still in college. Before you start, look through the student activities and clubs section of the Macalester website to find existing links between the types of work and engagement you are interested in and Macalester’s offerings.

Macalester gives you a framework for answering this question. They want to hear about academic, social, and civic engagement. We don’t recommend addressing each one of the three points individually as that can feel formulaic, but your answer to this prompt should absolutely hit on each category that they emphasize.  

Also, don’t forget about story. Weave in your own narrative as someone who (hopefully) is already engaged with local opportunities in your area. How will you continue the type of work you already love doing in a new environment?

If you’ve been struggling to finalize your college list because you’re not sure anywhere is a perfect fit, send us an email. We specialize in matching students with the schools that are their best match.