When to Fill Out Additional Information on The Common App
One of the great mysteries of The Common Application seems to be the “Additional Information” section. Many applicants leave it blank because they’re not sure what should go there.
And in many cases, it’s okay to leave that space blank. Unless you’re providing information that adds value to your application package, it may not be helpful to your application to fill it out. At Partners For Achievement, we strongly recommend this sometimes tricky piece of the application should be vetted individually with each student. In other words, whether or not to fill this section out should be considered on a case-by-case basis. There are, however, some common guidelines to consider. As The Common Application itself states, “It is relevant circumstances or qualifications not reflected elsewhere in the application.”
So, what exactly does that mean?
For starters, the section can be used to clarify “red flags” on your application.
For starters, the section can be used to clarify “red flags” on your application. You don’t want to leave any anomalies up for interpretation. Let’s say you dropped cross country, wrestling and baseball your sophomore year. An admissions officer might look at that and think, Wow. What happened there? Why did he drop all his sports? The “Additional Information” space allows you to explain that you did so because you had mono.
Some students place links in “Additional Information” to interesting projects they’ve undertaken, such as a YouTube channel featuring music they’ve produced or a blog they write. I recently spoke with an admissions counselor from Yale who said an applicant provided a link to a relevant research paper she had written.
Regardless of what you put in the section, make sure it’s simple, succinct, and facts-driven. This isn’t an essay. Admissions counselors are looking only for nuts-and-bolts information, and bullet points often are an effective way to present it.
A couple other rules of thumb:
- Don’t use a “bad teacher” as an excuse for a lesser grade. It makes you sound immature and unwilling to take responsibility for your outcomes.
- Don’t repeat anything from your activities section unless it requires a more detailed description.
Ultimately, “Additional Information” is a means for enhancing an admissions officer’s understanding of you. Use the space judiciously.
PFA provides guidance for students on The Common Application. For more information about PFA’s College Admissions Program click here.
Karen Daluga is a college counselor at Partners For Achievement. Read more about Daluga and the rest of the Partners For Achievement team.