I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder during fall of my sophomore year due to somatic (e.g., upset stomach, fatigue) and cognitive symptoms (e.g., difficulty concentrating) that I have experienced since eighth grade. However, I have learned to cope with my condition through regular treatment, and my grades have improved dramatically over the past two years as a result.
Physical, learning, neurological, and developmental disabilities
A diagnosed physical or learning disability is worth explaining in the Additional Information section, especially if it has impacted your education or your ability to participate in certain extracurricular activities. Whereas many students with disabilities receive reasonable accommodations for classes and testing, many do not. If you have not, you should note that here, too.
In fifth grade, I was diagnosed with surface dyslexia (reading disorder), which impacts things such as my ability to recognize and read words that defy pronunciation rules (e.g., I read “mint” without error but struggle with the word “pint.”). While I read more slowly than most students, I have developed strategies with specialists to overcome my dyslexia and have received A’s in English and Social Studies. However, I still struggle with timed tests, which contributed to my Reading score on the SAT being noticeably lower than my Math score.
I was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of my freshman year. However, my small school is not equipped to provide accommodations, nor have I received any for standardized tests. These obstacles have taught me resilience, because now I know that I need to advocate for myself by asking teachers for help or extra time on assignments and exams. While my ADHD continues to challenge me in the classroom and sometimes makes it harder to complete timed tasks, I now know that I am capable of the same success as my peers. In fact, I received straight A’s in the spring semester of my junior year.
Sexual orientation and gender identity
Whether you are in the closet, have recently come out, or are an LGBTQ student in a conservative town or in a liberal city, grappling with your sexual orientation and gender identity may impact your education.
When I came out as bisexual my junior year, my parents did not receive the information well. They are both devout Mormons and believe that homosexuality is a sin. The stress at home made it difficult for me to focus on my schoolwork. This caused my grades to be lower than normal during the fall of my junior year. Though my parents have not accepted me fully, I am handling the stress better, and my grades returned to normal during the spring semester of junior year.
The Additional Information section is not the place to list the 20 extracurricular activities you participated in, to describe the argument of every A+ paper you wrote in AP Lit, or to write an additional essay about the school trip you took to Washington, D.C.
Any information here should be brief and in no way resemble an essay. Rest assured, however, that admissions readers will learn a lot about you from your Common App Essay and supplemental college essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. A short sentence or two about a major award not covered in your Activities section will be appreciated by readers, whereas an additional 650-word essay describing your love for tennis might lead your application to the rejection pile.
Sometimes the Common App asks for information that you literally cannot fit into the application’s demographics section, but which you could include in the Additional Information section, such as: