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  • Writer's pictureDr. Thom

What NOT to Submit to an Admissions Office

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

When you think about what you will be sending in to the admissions offices at the various schools to which you will be applying this fall, what comes to mind?

Things like this right?

The fact that you think of these makes you an informed, reasonable individual.

What you might not know is that there people out there who, when they think about what they will be sending in to admissions offices, they think of this.

That's right . . . a shoe. During my tenure in college admissions someone mailed us one of their shoes with a note saying, "Now that I got my foot in the door . . . " There are three things you need to know about this: 1) the shoe was gigantic, like Shaquille O'Neal size, 2) the student was denied, and 3) we did not return the shoe. This paragon of bad ideas still gets plenty of run on college admissions message boards with students sending in school themed bedazzled socks and other footwear to colleges who DO NOT want them. It always amazes me the lengths some people would go, all in the name of "standing out."

We reached out to our friends and colleagues in admissions and asked them to recall the craziest thing that was ever sent to the admissions office in support of an application. These are the kind of things that will get a restraining order stapled to your rejection letter.

A hand-carved wooden squirrel

One colleague recalled a student who rough carved a 5-inch tall, wooden squirrel and sent it in to the office to pay homage to how wooded the campus was.

A portrait of the admissions officer

Another colleague was completely weirded out to receive a hand-drawn picture of the admissions officer standing in front of a prominent campus landmark.

An actual vial of blood

I wish I was kidding on this one. The idea, if you could call it that, was that they bled the school colors. This is an Olympic Gold level bad idea.

Baked goods and food

Cookies, cakes, candy, all wonderfully made and thought out . . . and all being deposited straight into the garbage.

Attaching battery-powered lights

Apparently this student decided to illuminate her application submission with actual illumination. Unfortunately, since it arrived in an oddly shaped, over-sized package, the office staff notified local authorities who had to investigate as a potential bomb.

This kind of gimmicky schlock was, at first glance amusing to me, but over time, it began to symbolize the fanaticism that surrounds selective admissions. People buy into the hype and media headlines that you have to get attention any way you can to make it in the admissions game, and in life overall. We don't buy into that game.

Instead, let's focus on being good, honest, and happy. That's really what colleges want to see in their applicants.

Not working with us yet? Feeling stressed by the college search process? Let's chat.

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