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 people, 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, guys. Here's a guide to help you figure out what to attach (and what not to attach) to that confusing little section.
DON’T send additional information just because there's space 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.
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 you plan on including additional info to your college applications? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen!