The Ivy Coach Daily

November 26, 2014

Less Can Be More in College Admissions

Less is More in Admissions, More Isn't Better in College Admissions, Extra Letters of Recommendation
More is not always better in college admissions.

More is better in highly selective college admissions, right? Not necessarily. So many students and especially their parents are under the impression that more is always better in the admissions process. More letters of recommendation. More information in the Additional Information section of the Common Application. More hours of community service. More sports. We like to call these students and parents the Supersizers. And the Supersizers, well, they just don’t get it. Not even close. Less can be more in college admissions. Oh yes it can be, Supersizers.

More is Often Worse in Highly Selective College Admissions

There is an expression among admissions officers that goes, “The thicker the file, the thicker the student.” It’s been an expression in the world of admissions for decades. You see, the objective of any applicant navigating the admissions process should be to present as likable to admissions officers. By stuffing a file with whole unnecessary information, well, it doesn’t exactly render the student likable. Admissions officers will resent having to read that additional letter of recommendation from a a congresswoman. And that letter of recommendation from the congresswoman likely reads exactly as you fear it will read — as though you’re trying to impress admissions officers. Mom or dad knows a member of congress. Eye roll! Unless the student has a genuine interest in political science and has worked in government or advocated for a political issue (and political science is the student’s singular angle), it will indeed read as though you’re trying to impress admissions officers. And that extra letter will do anything but impress them.

Or how about submitting tons of information in the Additional Information section of the Common App.? Yikes. This section should only be used to convey information that can’t be articulated in other sections of the Common App. (e.g., an illness that hurt a student’s grades in 9th grade, additional coursework completed outside of the high school, etc.). What this section most certainly is not is real estate for another Personal Statement. Admissions officers don’t want to read an additional Personal Statement. Writing such would hurt an applicant’s case for admission — not help it.

Over the years, we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen students and their parents submit family photos. We’ve seen them send care packages to admissions officers. Cheesecake, yum! We’ve seen obsequious emails from students and parents to admissions officers that make us cringe. Oh how these emails hurt. What are they thinking? We’ve seen 3-page resumes (nobody in the world should have a 3-page resume, much less a high school student!). Oy vey is right.

Less can be more in college admissions. We implore you to remember that. We implore you to take it to heart.

You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s college counseling,
fill out our complimentary consultation form and we’ll be in touch.

Get Started