What kind of information is “additional”?

Fletcher’s on-line application provides a section where you can include “Additional Information.”  Applicants to the PhD program (who need to answer extra questions) are given specific instructions on what to put there, but it’s wide open for everyone else.  So what, if anything, might you include?

The first thing I’d say is that you should look at your two essays and the additional information section together, and figure out what belongs where.  The personal statement needs to describe your academic and professional goals.  The second essay gives you a chance to tell us something special about you.  Something about your experience, maybe, or about your hobbies or travel or family.  Something specific or general, but not specifically about your application to Fletcher.

So the additional information section, and not the second essay, is the place to tell us that your test scores may arrive late, that you went to a university that only provides one transcript copy to its alums, that your workplace doesn’t know you plan to leave for graduate school and you can’t get a professional recommendation from your supervisor, etc., etc.  And, more significantly, it’s the place to tell us about the illness that resulted in poor grades in your junior year, or the illness that led to a premature conclusion to your Peace Corps service.  The place, in short, to tell us the things that don’t fit elsewhere in your application, and that are important for us to know.  I’m not encouraging whining.  (No additional information sections on why you scored 600 rather than 610 on the GRE verbal section!!)  But you’ll be doing all of us a favor if you simply answer the question that you know will arise.  Picture the Admissions Committee sitting around the table.  If you can see us asking, “What on earth happened to this applicant in his junior year?”, then give us the answer.  Don’t make us guess.

All of this is to say, make sure we learn what we need to know about you.  We give you precious little space to tell us everything, but if you think carefully about how to use the space, you’ll be able to put together an application that serves you well in the admissions process.

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