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Supplements on the common app are helpful

By Ariela ’13

I am just as fed up with the college process as the next stressbun wearing and latte-sipping senior. I don’t find some strange pleasure in making my application supplements fall just under the word count or in writing countless essays on why I want to attend The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Don’t Read Good And Want to do Other Stuff Good Too (obviously my top choice). But as much as I do not enjoy late nights filled with frantic e-mails to the College Counseling Office, I understand the importance of supplements to the Common Application, which vary from school to school. Supplements provide an additional chance to influence how colleges see you and therefore help create a match beneficial to both the student and the college.

Without supplements, the Common App limits me to some test scores and a 500-word description of myself, which only uncover a sliver of who I am. Sure, I’m a photographer and I can write about that aspect of myself for a personal statement, but I am also a singer, a student and a feminist. With just one personal statement, I cannot write about all of my passions or contain the full picture of me. Teacher recommendations help flesh out who I am, but the influence I have on the admissions officer’s perception of my character is slim. Supplements give me a way to remedy the sense of impersonality that permeates the college process.

I don’t want to feel as though I am being accepted or rejected from a school based on a skewed or minimized version of myself; I want to find a school that wants and will support every aspect of me. I am not just my test scores, but I am also not just my supplements. I am a combination of an infinite number of factors that may or may not prove me to be right for any specific college. If a college does not have the opportunities or atmosphere to best support me, or if I will not be able to support and enhance its community, I want to know that now. Although an online application, even with supplements, doesn’t allow a student to demonstrate every single aspect of who she is and what she wants, each bit of information brings admissions counselors closer to finding a match between personality and institution. So I say the more information the better.

Supplements will never be fun, and yes, I will most likely continue to complain about them. But it is important to remember that supplements aren’t there to cause unhealthy levels of stress, though sleepless nights often seem to prove otherwise. I believe that if you see supplements as a way to demonstrate who you are and how you want to be perceived, supplements can only help to create a mutually enjoyable and healthy match between institution and applicant.