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Articles / Applying to College / Should I Send Extra Writing Samples with my College Applications?

Should I Send Extra Writing Samples with my College Applications?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 11, 2008

Question: I have a narrative essay that I want to submit with my college applications. I wrote it in junior English, and I feel it's one of my better pieces, with one exception: there are a couple of pretty big typos. Should I still submit it? Should I tack on a little note explaining that the typos aren't typical for me? I have another good essay, about 4 or 5 pages long, that I wrote about a book. I don't want to annoy the admissions officers, so would it be too much to send both? Or would sending both help to redeem myself on the typos?

I suggest that you send the narrative essay, but I don't think you should send both extra pieces. Unless a college has specifically asked for a graded writing sample (and a few do) then a four- or five-page discussion of a book you read is extraneous, especially since you'll already be sending the narrative essay as an unsolicited writing sample.

Why can't you simply retype your narrative piece with the corrections in place? Again, unless you are responding to a request by a college to submit a graded writing sample, then it makes perfect sense to revise your 11th-grade essay and send it as an extra writing sample. If, however, you are applying to one or more colleges that request the "real" paper you wrote for school, then I suggest that you attach a very brief cover note explaining--and correcting--your errors.

Of course, if you're applying specifically to writing programs that request a portfolio of your work, then that's a different story--so to speak--and you can send multiple pieces, according to the school's instructions.

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.

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