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Articles / Applying to College / Will My College Think I Didn't Write My Essay?

Will My College Think I Didn't Write My Essay?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 16, 2015

Question: A few days ago when I was submitting the Common app to the last two colleges on my list, I realized that I had forgotten to list a volunteer activity for the colleges that I had already applied to. I understand that colleges are busy with processing many apps, so I will not send an email to all the colleges I applied to just to inform them of this mistake. However, on the Rice Writing Supplement, I specifically wrote about my experience of volunteering at a hospital in one of the essays. Now I am worried that this will make the admission officers think that I did not write the essays myself when I really did. I have already read the other Ask the Dean thread on a similar mistake (putting in a wrong number of hours), but I still cannot decide for my situation. Should I contact the admission office?

Don’t worry! Admission officers realize that the Common Application doesn’t provide enough spaces for most students to include all of their activities. So, sometimes, when a college’s supplement requires an essay about an extracurricular activity, the applicant will write about an additional endeavor … one that wasn’t on the Common App … which provides a way to add an extra activity to the list.

Granted, when college officials read application essays, they do sometimes spot red flags that suggest the essay was not the student’s work. But this is not one of those times. The admission committee at Rice is not going to think that your essay was written by someone else simply because it discusses volunteering that wasn’t mentioned elsewhere. And I assure you that, if you’re not admitted to Rice, it will have NOTHING to do with your overlooked extracurricular.

Applying to college is very stressful, but hopefully this gives you one less thing to be stressed about!


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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