On the Common application, tucked back in the Writing section (the same section where you upload your personal statement), you’ll see a tab titled “Additional Information” with the following instructions:
- You may use the space below to provide any additional information you wish to share
The most challenging part about this is its lack of specific instructions. It doesn’t tell you what kind of information they want, how to present it, etc. Most students, having encountered this for the first time, walk away wondering what in the world, if anything, they should include here.
Here are some of the best ways to utilize this space
- Spillover: The Common application limits you to 5 awards/honors and 10 activities. If you have more of either, this is the place to list them.
- Elaborating: Perhaps some important detail of one of my activities just couldn’t adequately be communicated within the 150 character limit in the activity section. If so, you can elaborate here.
- Clarifying potential confusions: Perhaps there’s something potential confusing about my academic record, schools attended, classes taken, or something like that. This would be the place to clarify that for the reader.
- Extenuating circumstances: Sometimes life events have a big impact on our academic and overall high school lives. If anything happened in your life during high school that would help the reader better understand you and your high school experience, include it here.
Here are some things you do not want to include
- Don’t treat this as an opportunity to write a second personal statement. Despite being housed in the Writing section of the Common application, this is not an essay prompt.
- Don’t be too defensive or make excuses. Sometimes, there’s something significant behind a less-than-stellar grade. Other times, it was simply a hard class and we were in over our heads.
- Be judicious with what you include. You don’t want to drown the reader in information.
- Don’t include a resume, as most of the information you’d find on a resume has already been communicated in the application itself. Moreover, if a school wants to see a resume, they’ll give you the option to upload one in the school-specific questions on the Common application.
It’s also important to remember that you do not have to answer this and will not be penalized for leaving it blank. It’s a good opportunity to communicate additional bits of information, but not everyone has anything extra to communicate. The last thing you want to do is make the admissions reader read something that doesn’t in any way illuminate you, your experiences, or your application as a whole.
In the end, think of the Additional Information section as a potentially great opportunity to add depth or additional details regarding some area of your life, but not something that’s required and that will automatically benefit your application.