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To supplement or not to supplement: the importance of extra materials in the college application

To supplement or not to supplement: the importance of extra materials in the college application

With application season just around the corner, you are probably considering ways to set your application apart from the others. Have you thought about which supplemental materials to include?

Here is what some top colleges say about supplemental materials:

Yale
“Supplementary Materials – Academic Work: If you have been engaged in advanced scientific research, you should consider requesting a letter of recommendation from a research mentor who has been involved personally with your scientific work. The letter should be mailed to us directly from the mentor and include your full, legal name as it appears in your application and the name and state or country of your high school. If your research incorporated work from many individuals, or was part of a larger project, please indicate what specific contributions you made to the project. If you contributed to a paper on the work, you may also submit a research abstract or a full paper for possible review by a member of Yale͛s science faculty. Full papers are generally more useful than abstracts.͟”

Harvard
͞”At the discretion of the Admissions Committee, supplementary materials—such as music recordings, artwork, or selected samples of academic work—may be evaluated by faculty. These materials are entirely optional; please only submit them if you have unusual talents.

Additional information can add to your academic profiles, but it is neither expected nor required. Evidence of unusual academic achievement such as contest results, writing or poetry, science and mathematics research, or academic portfolios of any kind are welcome but entirely optional. Electronic submission of supplemental materials will be available in mid-September.͟”

MIT
“Research Students who have worked on a significant research project outside of high school classes are welcome to submit a research supplement via Slideroom. If you have worked on more than one research project, we recommend focusing on the project that is most important to you. Please answer a brief questionnaire about your research and provide a letter of recommendation from your research mentor. Researchers may include a PDF of their abstract, poster, or research paper if available.͟”

You many notice that these colleges are using words such as ‘significant’, ‘unusual talent’, and ‘advanced’. Don’t you want colleges to view you as significant, unusually talented, and advanced? Would not these attributes befit an ideal candidate for admission?

If you are considering supplemental material, make sure that it corresponds to the major you are applying for:

Art major
– Be sure to include your art portfolio, and before you apply, send your portfolio to literary magazines, which are always searching for art. If you are published, you can include the publication with your application.

Creative writing major – Include any literary art pieces that have been published in literary magazines.

STEM majors – Even if it hasn’t been published, include any significant research papers that you have been working on.

Scholarly majors – Include research papers or presentations relevant to your major, regardless of whether they have been published.

Top colleges make it sound like you shouldn’t submit anything extra unless it’s exceptional, but it is your job to make them see you as exceptional! Clean up your supplemental materials now so that you can be proud to submit them when the time comes.