Musicians, actors, dancers and visual artists who do not plan to major in the arts should consider completing the Arts Supplement. Students who have devoted multiple years and countless hours to the pursuit of their artistic passion need to communicate their level of commitment. Submitting evidence of this special accomplishment or interest through an Arts Supplement is an opportunity for schools to get to know you better. I fear this opportunity is squandered by many college applicants.
There are currently approximately 60 schools on the Common Application that will accept the Arts Supplement. To find out if your school is one of them, log on to www.commonapp.org. Select the “Member Colleges and Universities” menu and go to the applications requirements grid. You can then select the arts supplement column to see a list of the schools that accept this additional information.
Don’t be deterred if your school is not listed as one that accepts the Arts Supplement. Sometimes, if you contact the admissions department and indicate that you would like to send in a portfolio or other evidence of your talent, they will allow you to do so. These extra materials are often forwarded to the appropriate department at the school. Your work will be evaluated and the arts faculty may make a recommendation to the admissions committee based upon their judgment of the work you submitted.
You may have an opportunity to pursue your art form in college even if you are not majoring in the arts, but are not required to do so in order to submit an Arts Supplement. For example, Stanford states: “While we would like students with a vested interest in the arts to continue their participation at the collegiate level, an arts submission neither guarantees nor commits a student to participate in the arts.”
When deciding whether or not to submit an arts supplement, you should keep in mind that your work will most likely be judged along with work submitted by students who intend to continue their pursuit of the arts or may even be planning to minor in their particular art form. You should only submit a supplement if your work is strong and can stand up to such scrutiny. An impressive arts submission can be a compelling part of your college application.