Imagine that you are an admission official at an Ivy League or other “elite" institution. It's after midnight and you're holed up with a down comforter, a cup of chamomile tea, and a sky-high pile of application folders, each including transcripts rife with AP classes and near-perfect grades and test scores. So how does any applicant—who doesn't happen to be Malia Obama—stand out in such an accomplished crowd?
Well, an arts supplement can certainly be one way. Even candidates aiming to major in chemistry or computer science can distinguish themselves among hyper-competitive peers by demonstrating a special talent. But the key word here is “special." Students who send arts supplements to the Ivies and their ilk are in tough company. And submitting a so-so supplement won't boost admission odds and might actually hurt them.