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Does it help to include supplemental materials with your application?

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As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the the experts. Here are their answers.

Choi Owner, Admissions Mavens

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the the experts. Here are their answers.

What are supplementary materials? In college applications, supplementary materials could include CDs of your musical performances, DVDs showcasing your acting skills, blogs, websites showing your artwork or writing, etc. Visual artists, writers, and performing artists can really benefit from submitting supplemental materials because they quality of their work can be difficult to ascertain within the four corners of an application. If you feel that supplementary materials can enhance the admissions staff’s picture of you as an application, you may want to consider submitting them. However, be sure to keep in mind that supplementary materials most likely will be forwarded to appropriate departmental staff for review. For example, if you submit a CD of you playing the piano, it will be forwarded to the music department for review. If you submit a link to your art portfolio, it will be forwarded to the art department. In other words, experts in the field will be reviewing your work so make sure you submit your best efforts.

Patricia Krahnke, President/Partner, Global College Search Associates, LLC

Short Answer: Sometimes it helps, but usually only if the college specifically asks for the materials, and you will rarely know if they have or not read documents that you submit. If you have a grade or grade trend anomaly that has a legitimate reason, it can sometimes help to submit a letter of explanation. But often, that is not even read or considered. Detailed Answer: Honestly, every institution approaches supplemental materials differently. You can tell a great deal about a college by the way they deal with supplemental materials and the application, i.e., are they personal or bureaucratic, do they view you as a person or tuition dollars. Some institutions have specific ideologies and they want to make sure that the person you are – outside of a set of numbers – will be an asset to their community. In those cases, yes, they will review your supplemental materials carefully. The fact is, if you are applying to one of those institutions, you had better be very aware of their ideology and be able to make it clear to them (via creative essay, personal statement, extracurricular resume, etc., or however they request this information from you) that 1) you know all about the college and 2) you would thrive there. Aside from these exceptions, in general, many admissions offices are under tremendous pressure to function with fewer people and grow enrollment, so they manipulate the use (or non-use) of supplemental materials to meet their needs. I am aware of a major research university that several years ago not only told their admissions staff to stop reading essays and letters of recommendation, the staff was made to shred all those documents so that staff wouldn’t be tempted to read them. The thought was, if they read the documents, it would slow down the decision-making process. The type of supplemental materials “requested” by an institution is the result of hours of meetings trying to glean how to manage your attention (indeed, the design of the application and all its parts is intended to manipulate you.)

Helen H. Choi, Owner, Admissions Mavens

What are supplementary materials? In college applications, supplementary materials could include CDs of your musical performances, DVDs showcasing your acting skills, blogs highlighting your writing skills, and websites presenting your artwork or writing, etc. Visual artists, writers, and performing artists can really benefit from submitting supplemental materials because the quality, depth, and breadth of their talents can be difficult to ascertain within the four corners of an application. If you feel that supplementary materials can enhance the admissions staff’s picture of you as an applicant, you may want to consider submitting them. However, be sure to keep in mind that supplementary materials most likely will be forwarded to the appropriate departmental staff for review. For example, if you submit a CD of you playing the piano, it will be forwarded to the music department for review. If you submit a link to your art portfolio, it will be forwarded to the art department. In other words, experts in the field will be reviewing your work so make sure you submit your best efforts.

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The Revolution Prep Team  

Our team is made up of professional tutors and academic advisors who are passionate about sharing their wealth of academic success knowledge.


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