What Are Supplemental Materials?

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Kristen Seikaly
Kristen Seikaly

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Naturally, ambitious and high-achieving students want to stand out on their college applications. But when every student applying to top colleges has great grades, great test scores, and numerous extracurriculars, it’s hard to know how to set yourself apart. Supplemental materials for college applications may seem like a way to do just that! However, not all supplemental materials are the same. Know what makes good supplemental materials for college applications before you decide to send any in.

When it comes to supplemental materials, some top colleges like Yale and Harvard offer advice on their websites for applicants. And Yale puts it best when they share their opinion on supplemental materials:

“Most successful applicants submit only the required application materials… If you have substantial and well-developed talent that cannot be conveyed adequately in the rest of your application, you may consider submitting…”

In other words, supplemental materials are just that: supplements. However, you may have pertinent information about you that just can’t be shared any other way, and colleges welcome that. What kind of information might that be though?

State or National Level Activities

You’ll be able to share most of your activities on your resume or through your extracurriculars. However, some students have activities that went above and beyond, ranking them at a higher level than the average student. You may have won a state award, or participated in a national activity, such as an all-star team. In this case, you may consider sending evidence of this work, such as a video or a portfolio of the work in question.

Enhancing Your Desired Major

If you’re applying to a specific college within a university or pursuing a specific major, you may want to add a supplement for that major. For example, perhaps there’s one more letter of recommendation you’d like to squeeze in. Or maybe you wrote your college essay on a science project, and you’d also like to submit something regarding the project itself.

The Arts

Generally speaking, if you’re applying for a traditional major or have not declared a major on your application, there isn’t much room on your application to submit your artistic pursuits. However, keep in mind that you’ll only want to share your artistry if it meets one of the criteria above; that’s to say, only if your artistic pursuits were on a level beyond school, or if they enhance your case for a desired major in some way.

Final Note

The most important thing to note when it comes to supplemental materials for college applications? Confirm whether or not a college allows them. Before even considering submitting such materials, look up the college’s policies regarding supplements. And if you’re still not sure, be sure to ask a college counselor. They will be able to tell you whether or not a college accepts supplemental materials, and if such materials will help you in your college application process.

Questions? Let us know!