additional information common app

In last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, host Beth Heaton spent the whole hour celebrating open “office hours,” focusing on listener questions and the next School’s Out! segment.

Schools’ Out! Application Workshop

Beth’s guest in this segment was college admissions advisor Kara Courtois, who helped address the Additional Information section of the Common Application, along with other optional questions. Beth and Kara discussed the most common question about this section: “What do I do if I don’t have anything to include here?” The great news is you can—and should, in most cases—leave it blank! Kara talked about the idea that “less is more” in college admissions, and unless there’s really something that needs to be clarified on the application (such as any interruption in school, excessive absences, or a diagnosed learning difference that affected a student’s academic performance), students should feel free to leave the Additional Information section blank, as it truly is optional. Kara and Beth also talked about the other optional questions on the Common App, such as questions about race and standardized testing, the rationale behind those questions, and whether or not it’s in the student’s best interest to fill them out. Beth and Kara also assigned some homework for students: Kara’s assignment was to create a deadline chart. With the Common Application now live, it’s a perfect time to create a document that lists all the colleges the student is applying to, the type of application (Common App or otherwise), the deadline type (Early Action, Early Decision, rolling, or regular), the deadline, testing requirements, and, most importantly, the essay questions. Beth’s assignment was for students to create a Common App account and start working on completing the application.

Listener Questions

For the rest of the hour, Beth welcomed college finance expert Shannon Vasconcelos, and the two of them fielded many listener questions on both admissions and financial aid. Some of the questions they covered included: What financial aid decisions are based on? What qualifications are considered for merit or outside scholarships? What is the difference in scholarship opportunities between large out of state universities, versus small private colleges? Does it matter if there are too many students applying from the same high school to the same college? Will applying to a school (more specifically, an Ivy League college) Single-Choice Early Action increase your chances of getting in over applying via regular decision? As you can see, lots of great questions were addressed. For the answers, download the episode and have a listen!

And be sure to tune in to Thursday’s episode, when guest host Ian Fisher and his guests will discuss the French Baccalaureate and will talk about how to budget and live like a student.


Written by Julia Jones
Julia Jones is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Julia previously worked as a senior admissions officer at Brandeis University and was the director of admissions at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School. Visit our website to learn more about Julia Jones.