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App Happy: Add an Addendum

Okay, so you feel like you got you got a good handle on your other materials. Your personal statement is flowing, you’ve got your transcripts in order (including your final grades), and you have a solid list of schools to apply to.

In the attachments section of your applications, you notice a space for an “addendum.” For those unfamiliar, an addendum is an additional, supplementary statement used to provide further context and information on an otherwise unknown or unclear component of your application. Some schools require addenda (the plural of addendum) for various reasons. If you, for instance, answered yes to any of their character and fitness questions, or have been to law school previously, they will often require an addendum. Read the instructions carefully. Some schools even ask for addenda if you have a gap of over three months in your resume or a break in education.

There are other circumstances, however, in which you may want to submit an addendum even when it’s not asked of you. Were you the primary caretaker of children or older relatives? Include this. Unable to allocate resources to study for the LSAT or GRE? Mention why. 

Unlike the other written statements, the addendum has a more clinical tone. An addendum is a factual, objective statement that should not be more than one page (double-spaced). You'll want to explain what the circumstance is, what actions were taken, and end with a positive impact. For instance:

During my first semester in university after transferring, I became overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for my two younger siblings and stopped attending classes. This caused me to perform poorly on examinations leading to a low fall semester GPA. During the spring semester, I took a more balanced courseload and was able to improve my grades. I have since learned techniques to balance competing responsibilities, a skill which I intend to use in law school. 

You may need multiple addenda to address different circumstances. Just be sure they’re not related. For instance, a gap in job history and inability to pay for test study materials may seem separate, but also may be the result of a prolonged personal illness. In this instance, a single addendum can convey this issue and its effects.

Finally, if you’re ever on the fence about including one, be sure to do so anyway. As the University of Michigan Law School application warns, lack of information provided to  the Admissions Committee may cause them to “proceed on the assumption that you’re doing something slightly sketchy.” Let’s not give them that opportunity. 

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Tatum Wheeler is a fellow law aspirant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she’s not working, she spends her free time exploring new trails with her dogs, reading narratives, and cheering on her favorite sports teams, the Cal Bears, Oakland Athletics, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Please feel free to contact her with any questions, comments, or further advice.

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