Less is not more

To get more done, do less.

To get people to listen, talk less.

To get people to read what you write, write less.

And please do the same with your college applications.

In their understandable eagerness to stand out, too many students want to inject more, more, more into their applications. They attach additional essays, send extra letters of recommendation, include work samples or press clippings or copies of awards. But all that “more” just creates a literally and figuratively bloated file. “More” isn’t what moves an admissions officer.

If a college specifically asks (and some do) for extra materials or information, by all means, provide what they’re requesting. But attention is always at a premium. Don’t try to cram everything you’ve ever done, tried, or experienced into the limited space of an application. The reader won’t be able to extract those things that mattered most to you in high school, and even if they could, they’ll be less likely to remember them when buried within all that other information.

What have you spent the most time doing? What are you most proud of? Where have you learned or grown during high school, and what experiences have impacted your four years there? Use the applications to clearly explain those elements of your high school career and what they’ve meant to you. Almost everything else will just distract readers from what you really want them to pay attention to.

Less is not more. It’s just more effective.