One of the most common questions asked by College Essays That Work students surrounds the use of the Additional information Section on the Common App. Many students are anxious to provide greater detail about their activities, accomplishments, and academic interests, while other students cringe at the thought of composing yet another essay. Should you, or shouldn’t you complete it?

The answer is, it depends. The Common App states, “You may use the Additional Information area in the Writing section to share relevant information about yourself that is not captured elsewhere in the application.” The application allows for up to 650 additional words if students “wish to provide details of circumstances or qualifications not reflected in the application.”

In the past, the common app was quite specific in clarifying how the section might be utilized. Just last year, it specified that the space might be used to explain:

*a dip in grades due to health or family circumstances
*challenges you faced because you skipped a grade
*challenges you faced because English was not the first language spoken in your household; alternatively, advantages you have because you are bilingual
*learning disabilities that have affected your schooling or upbringing
*information about a relative whom you’ve cared for or with whom you share a special bond

The fact that Common App has chosen to retreat from specificity in favor of generality will likely mean that more students will choose to utilize the Additional Information section. The types of information once specified by Common App are still valid subject matters for the Additional Information section. Arguably, broader topics are now fair game since the Additional Information prompt is worded in a more open-ended way. Students are urged to avoid overlap between their supplemental essays and the Additional Information section, and to hew closely to the instruction to use the space to describe circumstances or qualifications.

Students who would like individualized guidance may contact College Essays That Work at