Beginning the college application process is always daunting. Not only is there so much to do, but you also have to do it so well!
One of the things applicants try to be in this competitive application process is a STANDOUT. It is important to distinguish yourself and find a way to be memorable among thousands of applicants. A traditional way to do so is to advertise your hidden extracurriculars, the things you do that don’t make it onto your transcript, into your recommendations, onto your high school résumé, or into your personal essay. If you have built websites for local businesses or you are a philatelist or you have illustrated a friend’s graphic novel, maybe you want to highlight it,–and there are places to do so. It’s called supplemental materials, the addition of a supplemental essay or portfolio or other materials like CDs or videos. It might even pay to be playful and let your admissions reader know you have seen every silent movie on reel or you created an online fan club for Dick Cheney.
But, before you supplement, think about the relevancy of your supplemental materials. There are two things you want to avoid.
• Putting your admissions officer in a bad position to advocate for you in committee. S/he might not want to discuss your film fetishes when his/her colleagues around the table are advocating for students who have been regular helpers at the city soup kitchen.
• Appearing to game the system. Everyone wants a hook or a gimmick, and all admissions readers know every applicant is trying to effect that. Cute can work, but it can also diminish you.
When “packaging” your application, think of the overall impression you are making. You want to be human and honest, but you want to be a serious contender, too.