When extra materials invite themselves

There are some important lessons for applicants in the latest University of Virginia post, Things You Want to Send (But Shouldn’t): Resumes, Research, and Writing Portfolios, but the most important one appears in the post’s conclusion (bold emphasis theirs):

“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.”

I understand where the urge to send additional materials comes from. You want to stand out. You hear stories about students who supposedly gained an advantage by sending papers, articles, portfolios, etc. And there are plenty of supposedly helpful “How to get into college” articles that recommend exactly that course of action (I read one in an in-flight magazine while traveling recently).

But you can weed through all of that nervousness and noise by just trusting that each college you apply to will be very clear about what they want—and don’t want. Some will invite you to submit extra materials, but most won’t. Feel free to accept the invitation if it’s offered, but don’t let extra materials invite themselves.