Posts Tagged ‘College Application’


By Michelle King

Most of the college application process is pretty cut and dry. Mom’s name? Easy. Date of SAT scores? Simple. Any additional information you’d like to add? Um, what? For many pre-collegiettes, this can be the trickiest part of the application process. If you do fill it out, will your college even look at it? Will they be annoyed? How much can you fill out? If you don’t fill it out, will you look uncreative and lazy? What if your first choice college doesn’t have an additional information section on its application? Can you still send something? Breathe easy, pre-collegiettes. Her Campus is here to help you figure out what to attach (and what not to attach) to that confusing little section.

additional info section common app, common application, additional info app

DON’T Send Additional Information Just Because There’s a Section to Do So:
If you don’t have something you really feel your college should see, don’t just send anything. “Colleges don’t want to feel like you’re wasting their time and just including additional information for the sake of including additional information,” says Karen Siegel, a college counselor in South Florida. “It’s like when you’re assigned a four page paper and wind up writing six just because you want to impress the teacher. Ask yourself, ‘What does this add to my application that isn’t somewhere in there already?’ If you can’t come up with an answer immediately, don’t include it.”

DO Send Additional Information Even If There Isn’t a Place To Do So — But Ask First:
The Common Application has a place for Additional Information, but what if your school isn’t on The Common App? Can you still send the op-ed you wrote for your town’s paper? Yes – just ask first. Siegel suggest calling up the admissions office and asking if they accept additional information. If they say no, don’t push, but if they say yes, ask where it should be sent and how it should be packaged. If you’re sending a DVD, clarify that this is okay. You wouldn’t want to send the documentary you made last year only to have it chucked in the garbage.

girl holding books, common application, additional info section, additional info section common app

DO Send Something Related to Your Area of Interest:
“If you know what your intended major is, you can include something related to that, especially if it’s a major in the arts,” says Siegel. “If you’re a journalism major, include your three best clips. If you plan on studying photography, include your three best photos. You can even attach a resume if there wasn’t already a place to do so. Additional information is not the same as additional essay. Don’t write three pages about why you love to take pictures.” You can use the personal essay section of the application for that. Siegel stresses that you don’t need to send your whole repertoire. The admissions staff is more likely to look at one article you wrote that you’re really proud of, rather than 20 articles you wrote for your school’s paper.

DO Show Your Personality:
If you have no idea what you want to major in yet, don’t stress. You can send something that shows how multi-faceted you are. When applying to Emerson College, Alyssa Altman, now a junior marketing major, felt that her application didn’t show all the sides of her personality. “In high school, I was president of my school’s Operation Smile Club and designed a t-shirt that was printed and distributed nationally. I sent in one of the shirts and included information about how much they raised and how we sold them,” says Alyssa. “I was hoping Emerson would see that I had more to me than what appeared.” Achievements in a club you’re active in or a community service group you work with are great to include. They show your personality and areas of interest, while still keeping your application professional. Siegel suggests calling your school before you send something tangible and making sure it’s okay. Every school has a different policy.

common app, common application, common application additional info

DON’T Send Something Completely From Left Field:
Stephanie, a junior at the University of Florida, sent her first choice college a mix CD of all her favorite songs when she was as senior. “I don’t necessarily think that’s why they rejected me, but it probably didn’t help my case,” says Miller. “In retrospect, it made me look ditzy and unfocused. Why was I making a mix instead of working? It felt random and colleges want focused students.” You want to show your college your personality in your application and display what would make you a unique addition to their school, but remember to stay professional. Listing your favorite movies or sending them your childhood stuffed animal might catch their eye — but not in the way you want. Use the additional information section to show off your talents, not your awesome taste in music (unless you are a professional DJ).

DO Explain Any Mishaps in Your Transcript:
College Confidential, a college admissions counseling company founded in 2001, suggests, “The additional information section can be a handy, catch-all place to explain the sorts of things that the rest of the forms may not cover. Are there irregularities on your transcript, such as a repeated class–or a skipped one–that require clarification? Did your parents go through a nasty divorce that torpedoed your sophomore grades? The additional information space might be just the spot to provide insight into such anomalies.” But be careful! According to Siegel, it’s easy to read like a pity party when you start talking about why you got a C in Spanish class sophomore year. “If you’re going to explain a poor grade or a dropped class, make sure you have a real reason,” she says, who clarifies by saying, “And ‘the teacher didn’t like me’ is not a real reason.” She suggests only doing so for major, red flag issues — a C plus does not need an explanation, but repeating a year of school? That might need some explaining. When Elizabeth’s* dad died her freshman year of high school, her grades plummeted and she was forced to redo freshman year. “My dad’s death wasn’t something I wanted to talk about for my personal essay, but I wanted to explain why I had to redo freshman year,” says Elizabeth, who now studies at Fordham. “I wrote two paragraphs explaining how I felt repeating freshman year benefited me.” If you want to explain something in your transcript, just do so in a two to three paragraphs and explain what you learned from the situation.

Karen Siegel, College Counselor
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