Monday, February 24, 2014

College Applicants have Started Sending in Additional Creative Supplements as Part of the Application

College applications are always a stress factor for seniors in high school, trying to find a way to stand out and get that coveted acceptance letter from their top school.

Recently, one University of Maryland applicant, Ryan, in addition to the traditional application required, attached a YouTube video singing a cover of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” with Maryland inspired lyrics to his application, in the hopes of making a good impression.

The Next Generation of College Applications

In an age where people’s lives revolve around technology, it’s hard to believe that college applications still take such a traditional route and that more people don’t hear of unique application supplements. 

Shannon Gundy, director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, explained that although she can’t discuss specific individuals due to privacy concerns, students are discouraged from submitting supplemental materials, unlike many previously thought. With over 26,000 applications sent in this year, there isn't enough time to view all the mandatory parts of the applications and the extra supplements, as well.

Gundy explained that with such a high volume of students and supplemental materials coming through the office, such as drawings, CDs, and newspaper articles, among others, the admissions office is unable to review the extra materials and students are, instead, admitted based on merit.

Gundy went on explaining that she wasn't sure how this one video garnered so much attention, since most of these supplements aren't even viewed and the video came out after acceptances had already been released.

Gundy explains how to perfect your application

During the application process, there are many ways students can distinguish themselves, explained Gundy.  They range from simple and easy tasks, such as thoroughly reading the directions and submitting the finished application by the priority deadline, to writing a a strong personal essay. Another important factor is selecting an appropriate person to write the required recommendations.

“It's important that the recommendations are not just an affirmation of good character, but that they provide substantial information that allows us to learn more about the student than we already know," explained Gundy.

All is Fair in…the College Application Process?

With such a simple application required for college admission, applicants have a hard time trying to stand out without using other tools.  However, just because there are other mediums available for applicants to showcase their talents, doesn’t mean they should be used.

Although Gundy explained that most of these supplements are not viewed, other students still might find the idea of admissions officers potentially seeing these additions to be unfair.

However, one UMD student, Kyla Young, isn't one of those students. Young thinks that it’s fair for students to send in these supplements that could potentially be seen and be the cause of an acceptance, even though others who followed the actual application might not get in. 

“I think it’s fair because the admissions officers wouldn’t have let someone like Ryan in based on pure creativity, they also have to be worthy of an acceptance,” explained Young.

Although there are a variety of ways for college applicants to stand out, such as using a supplement, it's controversial about whether or not these supplements are even looked at and if it's a fair advantage over other applicants.

“I can understand that a student may assume that a supplemental material that they submitted may have impacted the admission decision, but it’s the case that students are reviewed on their own merits,” said Gundy.

Photo Source Credit: University of Maryland Admissions Website

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