Even if you are not majoring in art, music or film, supplements can enhance your application and paint a clearer picture of your passions, accomplishments, and personality for a college admissions counselor.

Make Sure Your Potential Colleges Accept Additional Supplements

Many universities will pass your work on to someone in a particular department. For example, Johns Hopkins will often pass film portfolios on to the Film & Media Studies department chair for review. Read carefully though, as some colleges explicitly state that they will not consider any additional supplements unless you are applying to a specific program. Be certain that the college will actually look at your hard work. If the universities’ website does not specify, speak to someone in admissions to verify whether additional supplements are accepted.

Check the details of submission. Make sure that you are sending it to the correct address (physical or email), as some schools will direct you to a particular faculty or staff member that will be assessing your work.

Compiling a Portfolio

Submit pieces that highlight your diversity within your medium. For example, choose pieces by a few different composers, or from different types of concerts at which you’ve played.

Alternatively, if you specialize in jazz, show off your mastery of jazz. The ultimate goal is to send work that you feel will impress the school and is not adequately emphasized in your Common Application/resume. You know your strengths better than anyone else, so choose the work of which you are proudest.

Confirm that Your Submission Format is Accepted

Some schools prefer an emailed link to a website rather than 3D items like a sculpture or DVD. Double check that your website, YouTube page, or blog is appropriate and professional before hitting “send.”

If you are asked to send 3D items, send a copy rather than the original (most admissions offices will not return these things to you).

Include a Meaningful Note

 To provide context, it is helpful to include a short description of your experience in the field (short is the key word here!). How long have you been singing opera? Have you taken relevant courses in or outside of school? Additionally, provide a brief description of each piece you have included (title, year, for what class if any). Make your letter more factual than informal. Admissions reviewers may see a longer letter as an attempt at a second personal essay, which may be looked down upon.

Follow Up

It isn’t just letters that get lost in the mail. Unless the institution is exceptionally far away, confirm after about a week that your submission has arrived at the intended office. Accidents do happen, and sometimes things end up in the wrong office. If this happens, contact admissions, and they can more than likely transfer it to the correct hands.

And remember: a genuine thank-you to a reviewer can go a long way!