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
College women nationwide
College Board: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/apply/the-application/8487.html
College Confidential: http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/archives/am-i-supposed-to-fill-in-the-additional-information-section-on-my-college-applications.htm