Application Extras

All About Application Extras

All About Application Extras
November 30, 2020

Families always have the option to submit application “extras,” (often called supplements) alongside their middle and high school students’ essays, transcripts, recommendations, etc. Submitting extras is always optional, and we typically find that they’re not necessary if a student has demonstrated a strong and consistent narrative for admissions committees. However, everything is different this year. 

Thanks to COVID, admissions committees have less information than ever as they evaluate applicants. They haven’t met candidates for in-person tours and interviews, which are usually one of the primary ways they understand a students’ unique personality and genuine interests. Current teacher recommendations, typically chock-full of detailed student anecdotes and informative assessments, may be less useful this year thanks to remote learning. So this year, it’s more helpful than ever to submit high-quality application extras that paint a full picture of who your child is. Extras are still optional this year, but if there’s ever been a time to consider adding something extra to your applications, this is it. 

What do extras look like? They’re pieces of multimedia content that can be submitted electronically alongside traditional applications. Extras might be links to newspaper articles, YouTube videos, music files, webpages, and more. Here are a few of the most common application supplements that we’ve seen: 

  • Is your child a competitive sports player? You might consider putting together a highlight reel of their best plays (though this can take a lot of work if not already prepared), or link to an article about their performance in a game. 
  • Is your child a talented musician or dancer? If you have a video of a recent recital or even a  casual rehearsal, share it with admissions committees. 
  • Is your child passionate about social activism? Record a short video of your child talking about the cause they’re passionate about and describing how they’ve gotten involved. If your child has put together a website, presentation, report, or other piece of material about their cause, include that too. 
  • Is your child an exceptional writer? Take pictures or scans of any writing awards they’ve won, or send links to features of their work in publications (from the school paper to mainstream sources). You can also send along a few writing samples, but don’t go overboard: admissions committees won’t read an entire novel! 
  • Is your child a scrappy young entrepreneur? More and more students have started small ventures during COVID. Send admissions committees any documents or presentations that your child has put together about their business, or record your child pitching Shark Tank-style about their idea. 

You can send along almost anything alongside applications, as long as it can be transmitted electronically. Make sure to contextualize each item in the email or submission form: explain links, provide the backstory for documents, etc. If you’re sharing a large file with a school, make sure the link has correct permissions and can be opened by anyone. 

Remember: only submit application extras that help paint a picture of your child’s distinctive self and genuine interests. Don’t send along five supplements that are unrelated and unconnected to anything in your child’s essays or what they’ve expressed in a virtual interview. Quality is more important than quantity: send in a supplement that really demonstrates your child’s passions, not a few random samples of things they’ve dabbled in recently. 

Confused about what to send in for application extras? We’re here to help. Reach out today for last-minute help composing your applications.