ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to My Favorites. View My Favorites
Articles / Applying to College / Should I Send News Clips With My College Applications?

Should I Send News Clips With My College Applications?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | March 9, 2017

Question: My local newspaper wrote an article last week about my community service project. Should I send news clips of that article to all the colleges I apply to next fall?

Start by reading application instructions on each college's Web site. A few schools will insist that you send NO clippings or similar supplementary materials, but most will allow them. Yet, just because it's permissible, is it appropriate? Here, “The Dean" must provide one of her most frequent—but least favorite—answers: IT DEPENDS.

When you say “my community service project," do you mean that you initiated it? And are doing it alone or are you one of multiple students involved? If you weren't the founder and if you're doing it with others, don't send the news article unless …

  1. It is primarily about you
  1. It gives admission committees information that a listing + a brief description on your application or on your resume wouldn't provide.

Even if you ARE the only one involved –or you're the major mover and shaker—be sure that any accomplishments the article highlights truly show you in a positive light. For example, if your key role was as a fundraiser, did you do something noteworthy to acquire the money or did you hit up your parents and their friends? A news clip about the latter won't score you points in admission offices.

Likewise, if the project is a common-place undertaking (e.g., peer tutoring, hospital volunteering) and there's no unique angle to it, the news clip won't help either. The same is true of one-time or short-term commitments (e.g., serving a holiday meal at a soup kitchen) unless there's something unusual about your approach.

Occasionally, newspaper articles include details and, especially, quotations that show a side of you that the rest of the application probably won't, and which may offer compliments about you that you're too modest to include yourself. But if the quotes included are merely platitudes, admission officials probably won't appreciate the extra reading.


Worth sending:

“The Fairlawn Community Center clean-up is an annual event but it was only under Esther Shapiro's spirited direction this fall that participants weren't only high school students but also hailed from three generations of center members who used eco-friendly solvents that Esther created herself."

NOT worth sending:

“Members of the Fairlawn Community Center are grateful to organizer Esther Shapiro and her classmates for another successful clean-up event." Each year seniors from Fairlawn High spend a Saturday morning helping to get the Center ready for the busy winter season."

Also not worth sending are articles about activities that took place before high school unless your accomplishments were exceptional and, as noted above, you can't summarize them in an application listing. Even significant achievements like winning a national spelling or geography bee don't require a newspaper article to convince admission officials that they indeed occurred.

If you do decide to send a newspaper article and you expect to snail-mail it to admission offices, make sure that it is clearly marked with your name, your home town, your school name and your applicant ID number, if you have one. Some colleges' Web sites include instructions on how to send extra materials, so look for these before you dispatch your clips.

Again, admission folks have plenty to read without such supplementary materials, so if you're not sure if yours are worth sending, the answer is probably no.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

More on Applying to College

See all
typing at computer- karolina-grabowska-6958506-resized

Authentic Voice in College Essays

That’s why you want to use your authentic voice when writing any college essay.

So what’s the problem? A student has shared an ess…


College Interview Prep Tips: Brainstorm, Research, Analyze, Generalize

I recently visited Washington University in Saint Louis and was lucky enough to set up an interview. By speaking with peers of mi…

campus gates

Academic Index Scores: Why They Matter and How They're Calculated

Note: Click here for 10 Summer Programs You Can Still Apply For or keep reading to learn more about academic index scores.

8 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

7 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

Podcasts can offer a wealth of information to busy students, particularly when it comes to the college admissions process. We…


Avoid College Application Regrets: Tips For Getting It Right the First Time

Decision Day occurs each year on May 1st and is the deadline for students to inform the college of their choice of their intent t…

Get a student loan that goes beyond tuition.

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned student loans with exclusive benefits that set students up for success.

Explore Now!
Find Your Scholarship

Want to find money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back? Access insights and advice on how to search and apply for scholarships!

Search for Scholarship