The Addendum Conundrum

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Dipsychus

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The Addendum Conundrum

Postby Dipsychus » Sat Nov 30, 2019 8:26 am

The last thing an admissions committee member wants to do is read through three addenda in every application, especially when there's a sense that the applicant is not trying to explain but over-explain or "explain away." There's the "Optional Statement" (with a diversity prompt sometimes) and the "Optional Addendum" (could be more than one). My sense is that, if used incorrectly or non-strategically, these additional paragraphs would cause eye-rolls and resentment rather than nods of sympathy from file readers. The instructions often say that many successful applicants do not provide addenda.

But what is the correct or strategic use of these optional (and brief) statements? The thing is, sometimes, multiple addenda do seem warranted -- when several matters do need some explanation or contextual information that isn't really discernible in the rest of the application. In that case:

1. Read the instructions for each school carefully
2. Be as brief as possible
3. Point out some anomaly without apologizing or drawing attention to it too much
4. Group the two or three short paragraphs on one page (titling each)

Does that sound about right? Anything else? And point number 4? I hate the thought of putting three three-line paragraphs -- not exculpatory but factual and contextual -- on three separate files to upload.

And I suppose if the committees care enough, the ones that conduct interviews will cover this ground on Sype (or whatever).

I know this is on-the-margins stuff, but hey margins can occasionally matter.

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cavalier1138

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Re: The Addendum Conundrum

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:26 am

The problem with trying to write a generic set of rules for addenda is that the decision of whether or not to write one is always context-specific.

99.9% of the time, an addendum is unnecessary. In the other 0.1% of instances, any addenda should be limited to the most serious/glaring issues with the application that have good explanations. For example, a semester of really bad performance that can be linked to an undiagnosed medical condition warrants an addendum. A semester of really bad performance that can be linked to partying too much or overloading on hard courses does not.

Dipsychus

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Re: The Addendum Conundrum

Postby Dipsychus » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:50 am

cavalier1138 wrote:The problem with trying to write a generic set of rules for addenda is that the decision of whether or not to write one is always context-specific.

99.9% of the time, an addendum is unnecessary. In the other 0.1% of instances, any addenda should be limited to the most serious/glaring issues with the application that have good explanations. For example, a semester of really bad performance that can be linked to an undiagnosed medical condition warrants an addendum. A semester of really bad performance that can be linked to partying too much or overloading on hard courses does not.


Couldn't agree more. I would much rather not write an addendum or addenda; and I'm being generic only because I don't want to divulge personal details. But at least one is needed. I have one half-page para ready to go, just tinkering with it and being last-minute indecisive about this morsel of the meal.



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