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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Things You Want to Send (But Shouldn't): Resumes, Research, and Writing Portfolios

When you hit submit on your Common App, I think you should feel some relief. You've done the bulk of your job for the application and now you have to wait for the rest of the pieces to fall into place*. Unfortunately, there are students who seem to see the Common App as the first of many submissions they'll make to our office. Below, I'll go over the things people try to send us and why we don't want them.

1. Resumes

So many students email us asking if they can send a resume in addition to their Common App. UVA does not accept resumes. The Common App presents information in a systematic format, which allows us to zero in on pertinent information quickly.I know that some really, really want us to see a resume or another activity chart, but please respect our process and use the Common App to share information in a concise way.

2. Outside Recommendations

We require one recommendation from your counselor and one from a teacher of your choice. We are looking for insight into your style in the academic environment. People who have never taught you can't speak to your learning style or how you work in a classroom situation. Also, those people tend to think they need to summarize facts (hours worked, tasks performed). Repetitive information isn't helpful.

Some people want to send recs from faculty they met at conferences or special programs. Consider how long these people have known you. I recently saw a recommendation letter that started by saying the writer knew the students for nine days. Your teachers and counselors have a little more familiarity with you. Stick to the required recommendations.

3. Research Abstracts

It's great to tell us about research, but don't send us an abstract. A line or two summarizing what you did is great. A paper is over the top and not useful. In fact, if you send us a paper full of jargon, you're increasing the chances that the gist of the work won't be clear.

4. Writing Portfolios

We get three pieces of polished writing in the application. The Common App has a long essay and the UVA screen/tab has two short-answer prompts. That's plenty of writing for us. We don't accept portfolios.

5. Copies of Certificates

You sign off on our Honor Code when you apply and promise that the information in your application is accurate. We don't need a copy of a certificate to believe that you are a member of a certain organization or received an award for something. Leave those papers in the baby book or that folder where you stick important stuff.

6. Newspaper Clippings or Pictures of You Doing Something

Anyone who was on the staff of a literary magazine, newspaper, or yearbook is proud of their work. It's best to keep copies for yourself and your family. The same goes with photos (even the adorable baby-on-the-UVA-Lawn photos). They belong in a safe place at home, not in a college application.



Colleges ask for the things they need to make their decisions. If we don't ask for it, we don't want you to spend time (or money) on it. Further, to make this process fair, we have specific parameters of what we will review. We accept the Common App and supplements that fit the criteria for arts and architecture supplements. That's it. So when you hit submit, it's time to move on to monitoring your status, not time to craft extra items to send us.

Please don't spend your money on stuff like this.



*No one seems to read the "After You Submit" part of the instructions, but that's where we explain that it can take several weeks for all the components of your application to meet up in our system, so don't panic if there are items on your "to do" list initially.