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Does it help to submit work I've done outside of school to colleges?

QUESTION: When it comes to getting into college, will it help me to submit work to colleges I have done outside of school? I have written poetry since I was young and have a few poems that I would like to submit to colleges attached to my personal statement so the admission officers get a broader understanding of who I am. Would it hurt if I send these? Signed, Poet on the Rise

Dear Poet: One of the purposes of the college application is for admission officers to get to know who you are. They do this through what others say about you in your recommendations, what you write about yourself in your essays and how you present yourself in interviews. A lot of students send in supplementary material to help the admission officers such as tapes of musical performances, newspaper clippings and artwork.

It makes sense that you want to share your poetry because it is important to you. This can help only in one situation—if your poetry is good. If it is not, then it may be more harmful than helpful. Have you won any accolades for your work? Has it been published? Do your teachers praise your work? Without having read your work, it’s difficult to say if it will improve your chances. If you still don’t know, ask a teacher to take a look at your work and give you frank advice about whether or not you should send it. You want to make sure that what you send will enhance your application.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.