Do's and Don'ts of the Additional Information Section

Let’s continue our journey investigating the ins and outs of the Additional Information section of The Common App. To review: the Additional Information section is a section that every applicant can find a use for. Its purpose is to give you a space to elaborate upon parts of yourself that you think an admissions reader should know that you did not have room for elsewhere in the application.

Here’s a general rundown of examples of what we do and do not recommend including:

DO: List any online courses that you took and how many hours you spent on them.

Online Courses
EdX Online Course (11th grade, 73 hours)
Audited "The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges" course available through EdX taught by Maria Garlock, Associate Professor of of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University.
Course focused on the bridge design and the basics of structural engineering.

DO: Include any information about summer courses or programs that you did not have room for.

Columbia University Science Honors Program (11th grade, 4 weeks)
Enrolled in "Neuroscience: Exploring the brain" at Columbia University’s Science Honors Program taught at the Morningside campus. Explored the organization, structure and function of the brain. Completed a project on memory and emotions.

DO: Include a link to any published articles or books and/or any associated publicity.

Published Book
Cuban Favorites: Recipes from My Childhood
Publicity: Huffington Post

Academic Publication
Investigated the physics behind wind turbines and renewable energy; contributed to an article with 2 students in my high school's Physics class.
The Physics Teacher journal, an official publication of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

DO: Talk about a future event that you’re planning or notable future milestone that is associated with an extracurricular activity you already participate in. (Note: if this is for a school you’re applying to early and you get deferred, this is a great thing for you to follow up on in your deferral letter because they can refer back to it!)

Currently planning a fundraiser through my non-profit organization Haiti United to take place in January 2017. 200+ people have already RSVP’ed. Secured a venue and aim to raise $10,000.

DO: Expand upon a unique hobby.

In addition to my extra curricular activities, I am an avid yogi and practice yoga 3-4 times a week. I practice a combination of Vinyasa and Bikram yoga and have been doing yoga since I was 12. I am in the process of achieving a 200 hour yoga certification through Yoga Alliance.

DO: Include details on a lesser known award.

Placed 1st in the 2017 U.S. Interscholastic Orienteering Championship:  Orienteering is an international sport that tests both racing and navigation skills. Competed against 300 other high schoolers from around the United States at Mounds State Recreation Area in Indiana.

DO: List any additional testing information that was not included in the testing section i.e.: additional AP tests you took that you did not list if you got a 4 or a 5.

DO: Use this as an opportunity to expand upon any legitimate inconsistencies in your application i.e.: grading dips, attendance issues, health issues, etc. -- this shouldn’t read as an excuse but rather an explanation of what happened (read: facts).

DON’T: Lie or “stretch the truth” of any of your accomplishments. This is self-explanatory. No exaggerated facts or details.

DON’T: Include non-illustrative facts or words. This is not the time to be long-winded to fill the space. This is the time to be efficient, precise, and to the point. It should be clear why you are including what you are including. You don’t need to fill this space up with the full 650 words allowed just because it is there. Admissions readers can tell when you are scraping the bottom of the barrel with lackluster information, and it can even end up hurting your application if you include information that does not truly bolster your profile.

Of course, every application is different, but these are all meant to inspire your own ideas. You don’t need to use this space--it is OPTIONAL. You will certainly not be penalized for not using it or not using it in full. Just have 1 online course you took that you absolutely loved? Great. Include that. Remember: quality over quantity, always. We hope you feel a little bit more informed and remember: the Additional Information section on The Common App is an opportunity to show a different side of yourself or expand further upon a part of your application that was not done justice. If you have any questions on what you should write about, just reach out to us.