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

March 9, 2017

Should I Send News Clips With My College Applications?

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

Can I Reapply After Early Decision or Early Action Rejection?

Can I Reapply After Early Decision or Early Action Rejection?

Question: If I apply to a college through Early Decision or Early Action, but I am not accepted, can I apply again through Regula…


How To Get Into Penn in 2022

There's no doubt that the University of Pennsylvania is extremely difficult to get into. In 2021, the ivy league school in P…

Early Decision or Early Action?

Early Decision or Early Action?

Question: Why should I consider an Early Decision or Early Action college application? What's the difference?

Your level of d…

Can I Apply Early Twice?

Can I Apply Early Twice?

Question: I am planning on applying early decision to my first-choice college. I will be notified of my status by December 31st. …

Advantages of EARLY Early-Decision Application?

Advantages of EARLY Early-Decision Application?

Question: I'm applying Early Decision to an Ivy League school. Is there any advantage for me to send in the application mate…

A-Z College Forums

Browse the College Forums

Find Your Best Fit

Find your best fit college and track your favorite colleges.