11 months ago
Admissions Advice

How much can supplementary materials turn around an admissions decision?

Basically, can submitting stuff like a writing portfolio, awards, and even the language section in the common app can tip an admissions decisions? Can doing every essay the school throws at you do much?


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
11 months ago

If a school has an optional essayprompt answer it if you can put a meaningful response and you have time and the effort equals potential reward (as in don’t do it at a 90% admit rate school).

The language is difficult. It’s essentially an EC slot reserved for new languages. As in say if you are bilingual or you have certificates in a language but don’t add your high school Spanish class.

This is generally used to say oh this student is diverse and will diversify out school that means that he’s better than Bob who’s equal and all aspects but xyz fills our institutional priorities better (stuff like that and is hyperbole but point stands. If you want I can define institutional priorities)

Writing portfolio depends on major (humanities but English ones specifically) and or HS extracurriculars (leader of writers club, got xyz published etc.) In essence it lends gravitas to that extracurricular and or shows your passion in English for your major. As language says it’s kinda a tie breaker but a less influential tiebreaker than languages IMO.

Awards are extracurricular-lite. If you have any notable ones add them. It doesn’t really have to be related to anything. It can just be had perfect attendance. It shows academic and or extracurricular ability and those are key aspects. Granted they impact it a lot less than say your extracurriculars and gpa but it does impact.

You didn’t ask specifically but resumes are used to expand on extracurriculars as in you can’t accurately explain something so you submit a resume. But have your EC stand on its own. Don’t use a resume to get more space use it to say.

Was ranked nationally in xyz. Blah blah.

Then in resume have that plus more sea tail. Like I competed and placed in x percentile at nationals and it’s essentially a place to go more in-depth in ECs Becuase the provided space is limited don’t use it to “pad”.

Hope this helps and feel free to comment if you’s like clarification as I’d be more than happy to help!

11 months ago

@DebaterMAX has a great response, and I agree with them. A writing portfolio should be designated for applicants interested in applying to a competitive English/writing program. Often, these programs will request profiles from applicants in order to apply. If you are not applying to such a program then there is no need to submit a portfolio and it won't make a difference in your application. In regards to the language section, it is a way for schools to see how multi-cultural and diverse you are as a student in a quick snapshot (and this isn't 100% accurate). So even the importance for this section is not very high. The awards section as @DebaterMAX humorously put it is the "extracurricular-lite" section. It matters the most out of the sections that you have mentioned because it can serve to distinguish you from other applicants. Try to put in unique and hard-to-obtain awards if you can. Also try to prioritize awards that are in your major-of-interest if you are applying to more selective schools.

Your final questions is in regards to essays. In general, try to complete all the essay prompts that a school offers you, including the optional essays. You already have such a limited space to tell a concrete story about yourself, so it is essential to use all of what is offered to tell it best.

Hope this helps!


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