What to Not Include on your College Admission Application

In my 20 years’ experience at college admissions I have heard some funny stories from people who work in college admission departments about what is included on the college application.  As a general rule, you should stick to application guidelines and do not attempt any risky maneuvers such as sending in a gift or something you made that might be seen as a bribe.  This is the most sure fire way to prevent you for further consideration.

Some of the more humorous items I have heard about that were included with the application are:

  • A student wrote about his taxidermy hobby on the essay portion, so he sent in a stuffed squirrel along with his application.
  • A student wrote about their baking interest and enclosed boxes of cookies and cupcakes “for consumption while reading my essay.”
  • A student listed on their application numerous after school activities.  When you add up the time along with the school day, you would need more than 24 hours in a day!
  • A student disclosed on their application that they had recently won a “rap battle.”
  • A student sent in a poster-sized head shot of themselves.

I have heard numerous accounts of parents who write letters in support of their child- explaining why GPA’s or SAT scores are low, or trying to guilt trip admission representatives into accepting their child.  As a parent if you are trying to help you child seem independent and ready for college, speaking for them is not advisable.  This is actually happens much more frequently than you would imagine.

Probably the most common item enclosed with the application is baked goods.  I have heard many stories from admissions representatives about applicants who do this.  The reality is that 99% of schools have rules that prevent admissions representatives from taking any kind of good or service for admissions consideration.  So even if the representative wanted to eat the cupcakes you prepared, they risk their job if they take them.

College Application Tip:

What you are really doing by sending in your item is creating extra work for the representative.  They now have to document what you sent in and mail it back to you along with a note explaining that they cannot accept the item. It is highly unlikely that anything you send in beyond the documentation required will improve your chances at college admission.