The Art of the Addendum

Ah the addendum. An addendum is a brief optional additional document that can be used to explain weaknesses within your application. An addendum is not for everyone and most students will have no need for one. 

Issues that may require an addendum include, a GPA that doesn’t reflect your academic abilities, an unusually low grade in a specific class, an extended absence or transfer from school, and any criminal record. The important thing is to locate any out of places pieces within your application that require further explanation. 

Writing about a failure can be unsettling and uncomfortable

The key is to mention the piece of your application that is “out of place” and then give a legitimate reason to explain how this happened. 

Oversleeping every morning you had Chemistry is not a legitimate reason for the C+ you earned in the course. Staying up all night cramming for the SAT is not a legitimate explanation for the poor score you received. 

A legitimate reason for a fault in your application could include a death in the family, a severe illness, or a documented physical, social or learning disability. 

Some students that excel academically in school and apply early for college have a history of poor standardized test scores. If this is the case then it’s best to include an addendum that includes test scores from previously taken standardized tests—the PSAT or any state-mandated assessment. 

The chance addendum offers

The addendum gives you the prospect to take accountability for your shortcomings and is not a place for excuses or justification of poor behavior. An addendum should be clearly titled ADDENDUM so that the adcom doesn’t confuse it with any other piece of your application. It should be brief and to the point—a maximum of three paragraphs. 

Remember, there’s no need to get into too much detail, to pull at the heartstrings of the adcom, or to spend ten pages recounting each day you spent in bed with the flu. You simply want to address the issue and explain why that piece of your application doesn’t properly represent you as an applicant, using facts. 

Remember, an addendum is not a miracle worker, but it can win an argument for why a specific weakness doesn’t reflect your potential.

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