While prospective students who are thinking about the supplements for each of their college choices, they can assume that just about every school will want to know what it is about their particular university that appeals the most to you, and how you would contribute to the campus community.
I would generally advise that students put together one document which lists all of the schools that they are applying to, with their supplemental questions listed. That way, its easy to understand just how each institution asks its particular question, and how they may be repurposed from one application to another, as needed. A word of caution – not all liberal arts colleges, or history programs, or civic engagement opportunities are the same on each campus! While its a great idea to see how you can utilize some of the same general themes from school to school, each university spends a great deal of time and effort to make their unique opportunities apparent to prospective students.
You should take your time to understand what sets this school apart from the others you are considering. It may be that there is a particular course of study within political science that really appeals to you; or a literary journal which focuses on science, or the chance to study abroad in a part of the world that you find very interesting. Each school will want to know that you have a pretty firm grasp on what you can accomplish there; and in turn, what you will bring to its campus as well.
The websites offer a wealth of information; you may need to spend some time digging beneath the surface of the course descriptions to find out what particular faculty members are teaching, for example. But I find that the more this essay can showcase that you know the institution- and that you are applying for very specific reasons ( please do not site location as one of your big parameters!) they will appreciate that you took the time to get to know them.
You may want to reach out to your school guidance counselor to see if there are students from your high school who have graduated recently and are enrolled at the school you may be considering. You will want to sign up for the information sessions that many schools will host ( or co-host) around the world so that you can learn more about the program first hand. Generally , local alumni are invited to these events, so its a nice way to interact with individuals who may have graduated 5 or 20 years ago and have a different perspective about opportunities the school has afforded them.
At the end of the day, you should have as full a picture as possible of the institution, and have thought of how you may want to express this within the framework of the school supplement. It is sometimes easiest to choose one academic interest, one extra curricular interest, and one general impression about the school to talk about in this particular essay. ( insert number of words here) is not so many words; so I usually suggest that students be as clear as possible with their reasons for applying.
It is important to be as personal as possible in your response; you do not want to sound as if you are simply regurgitating the admissions website back to the admissions representative, who most likely had a hand in writing it! Keep the relationship with the school as personal as you can; tie back your impressions of what excites you about the institution with your own experiences and accumen.