Recycled Content: Same Essay, Different College Application

As with most questions pertaining to essay drafting, the answer to this one straddles the YES versus NO divide so it’s obviously an important one for college applicants to ponder. If the narrative’s compelling and useful, then students should repurpose content. Why reinvent the wheel? No red flags have ever been raised from using the same essay for multiple applications. At least not that my students — or admissions officers – have shared with me!

Wearing my marketing/PR hat, here’re some additional tips on the “Same Essay, Different College Application” question:

I recently had a student text me with a justified expletive. She had used the same Supplemental Essay for a school in the south and for a school in upstate New York. The wonderfully effective prose she had crafted to explain why, as native Californian she wanted to attend school in Louisiana, was recycle-worthy. The problem was, that before hitting SUBMIT, she forgot to tailor the content to make it relevant to a school in the northeast. #oops

If an email blast I’ve written isn’t of value to me, isn’t going to teach, illuminate, inspire, validate me in some small way, I hit DELETE. I describe this as “valuable writing.” During this high-volume application season, admissions’ officers are trying to make decisions. They need to fill a grade, meet the idiosyncratic criteria that filling that grade entails and, unfortunately, they must decide which students to defer, waitlist and reject. If a student can communicate WHY they’re an important asset to School A, and worth accepting into School A’s community, then that content, edited to fit a school’s profile, is worth reusing again and again.

Back when I was writing many weekly press releases and press kits, a journalist once told me that she looked forward to reading my work. Since my content’s intent was to persuade and sell, I was thrilled that my paragraphs were doing double-duty by entertaining readers as well. I say to my students, you’re selling yourself to a school; write to woo. Once you’ve penned your story, a message that’s informative and enjoyable to read, hit copy/paste and recycle away.

If your student needs Essay Coaching or College Counseling, please drop me a line at or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, check out my Facebook page for “news you can use.”