Essay Writing

The Additional Information Essay: What You Need to Know

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Most students know that they will need to write one big college essay for their applications. But, sometimes the additional essays can come as a surprise.  One option on the Common Application and Coalition Application is for students to write an “Additional Information Essay.” It’s worded as such on the Common Application: “Do you wish to provide details of circumstances or qualifications not reflected in the application?” 

So, does everyone need to write this essay? And what should it be about?

First things first… no, not everyone needs to write this essay.  In fact, more people will not write it than those who will. And, it’s important to note that it’s not like writing a bonus essay. Some people think, the more I write the better. But that’s not the case here.  Don’t write this essay unless you are advised to by a parent, counselor or teacher.

So, what are some circumstances where it would be appropriate to write this essay? Here are some examples:

  1. Share important details about an activity, employment, community service experience that won’t fit in the small space allotted in the Activity Section of the application.
  2. Add in AP Scores, or other testing scores that don’t fit elsewhere in your application.
  3. Explain health complications that affected you or immediate family members, particularly if they impacted your grades.
  4. Clarify unusual grading systems at your high school, or unusual facts about your high school.
  5. Share actual published research completed outside of school.
  6. Explain unusually low grades, or any other “red flags”.
  7. Elaborate on unique family circumstances, especially if they interfered with your ability to get more involved in school or extracurricular activities.
  8. Disclose physical or learning disabilities *disclosing a disability should be carefully discussed with your guidance counselor

I hope you get the sense that this essay should only be used for important or even critical information that isn’t elsewhere covered in your application.

How to Write the Additional Information Essay

Keep it short and sweet.  It should be very factual and clear. However, it should also be positive in nature.  You don’t want to discuss difficult circumstances, for instance, without giving some resolution or sense of optimism.

It’s very important to remember that most students will not write an Additional Information Essay. If you feel that you may want to or need to, it’s essential that it is read by an adult, preferably a college counselor, who can provide insight into how it will be perceived by your colleges. Contact Campus Bound if we can help.