Do all the pieces of the application need to reference one another?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Do all the pieces of the application need to reference one another?

Roby Blust

Do all the pieces of the application need to reference one another?

Here is my video response to the question.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Cross Referencing

The student should make sure that all aspects of the application are impeccably completed. However, they should generally not reference each other unless a college has its own application or the student is writing within a college's supplement. The Common Application asks for the Personal Essay and 1000 characters on an interests; they should be written about different activities. The main section of the Common Application should not reference any specific colleges, as it is shared by many (and colleges will not want to see their preferences for their competitors). I do advise students who attach or upload pieces to the Common Application (e.g., the resume) to include their name should pages be separated. That is not to say, however, that the pieces should reference one another.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Keep it Simple, Smarty

When I worked at the University of Maryland, it took days just to open the mail from our priority deadline much less process and electronically file the information. Make it easy on admission offices by placing identification information (name and birth-date) clearly at the top of each document. Be sure you use your full legal name.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

Not really

not all the pieces of the application need to reference one another. if you are useing common application, you may focus on the supplemental materials more. if you are using university application system, it is normally simple with less individualized questions.

Reena Gold Kamins
Founder College, Career & Life, LLC.

Space in your application is precious.

All pieces of your application should be easily identifiable as yours, i.e. have your name or ID number according to the guidelines provided by the school. However, you don't want to "waste" space in one part of the application sharing something about yourself that can be found in another part. For example, don't answer a short essay question by continuing a story you started in your larger essay. Each question that you answer is an opportunity for you to share something new with the committee. Take advantage of each of those opportunities to set yourself apart from all of the other applicants.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Parts to the Application

Each section of the application stands on it's own. The only place they connect may be in the short answer when an explanation is being given for low grades, rationale for course selection, or some other issue that may have raised a red flag.

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

A Cohesive Whole

Short Answer: Yes. Detailed Answer: There are two very different ways in which all the pieces of the application need to reference each other: 1. The ideal admissions candidate presents an organic identity. By “organic” I mean that the spirit of the student is similarly evident throughout the application, in the coursework, the extracurriculars, the academic passions, the interests, etc. For example, if you are a student who loves the environment and wants to be involved in climate research, your academic and personal background should reflect this passion, via your work history, grades in preparatory classes, essay or personal statement, and extracurricular activities (such as Recycling Club, Weather Bug, or something similar.) This shows an admissions counselor that this truly is the area in which you intend to achieve at a high level. Especially in professional programs, counselors and/or faculty committees may look to extracurriculars or personal statements and letters of recommendation to determine if you have the passion it takes to excel in that program, so it is important that you approach your high school years with a determination to “connect the dots” within your area of interest. 2. Each piece of your application MUST have the same identifying information on it as every other piece included with your complete application. If you are an American high school student, many other students may share your name, so it is important that all identification numbers and name clarifiers (middle name, etc.) be consistent between documents and reflect the name on your birth certificate. If there are identification complications because of divorce, adoption, or parental issues, do everything you can to make it as clear as possible to the college that your documents indeed all belong to the same person – you. If it’s particularly complicated, write a letter to accompany your file that explains all the identifying info that may be associated with you. If you are married or divorced, it is imperative that your documents show clearly all names that may be associated with your identity. If you are a transfer student who is married, the college to which you are applying must be able to understand that transcripts and other documents that may arrive with your maiden name are connected to your current name. Certain cultures around the world have different naming traditions, which can make it easy for an admissions office to not connect certain documents to the same student. Therefore, it is critical that every piece of information you submit – whether it be test scores from the testing agency, FAFSA info, transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, personal statements, etc. – have the exact name on it as your passport, visa, and other legal documents.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Do all the pieces of the application need to reference one another?

No, they do not. What is important is that they all come together to present as full a picture as possible of who you are, what you have done, and what you can bring to their school community. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle which, when all the pieces are in place, offers a full picture of you, the applicant. Based on that picture and their institutional needs, a decision will be made.

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown High School

Do all the pieces of the application need to reference one another?

Large universities (or those that receive a large amount of applications) usually require that all materials reference one another. For instance, you may need your full name and SS# or date of birth on the top of each piece of paper sent separately from the application. There are usually instructions on the admissions website or on the application that tell you how to reference your materials. If you do not see specific guidelines, it is always wise to at least put your name and date of birth on each item (essay, resume, payment etc.), just in case there are two people with the same name applying.

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

Do all the pieces of the application need to reference one another?

In most cases, I don't think so. However, as with everything else context is key. If you have a dire situation, some kind of challenge or huge award or distinction, these aspects will in all likelihood be referenced or alluded to in either your responses to questions posed or the commentary of your supporting cast of references. I don't believe they all need to reference each other, but the diction of the writing should be consistent! The last thing applicants should ever do is have someone other than themselves respond to the questions. Tenor and tone should be consistent, but your storyline need not necessarily repeat the same experience ad nauseum.