Can I Send a Résumé to Stanford?

Question: Dear Dean, I am an international student applying to top tier US colleges including Stanford. At my school there are not many clubs like there are at American high schools so my extracurricular activities take place outside of my school. I am planning to send a separate CV to colleges to provide details about my most important activities that are not common in the States. I do not understand if I can send a CV to Stanford because of the application instructions that says not to mail supplementary credentials. Are CVs supplementary credentials? I feel like the adcoms won’t understand my activities if I just try to explain them in 150 char on the Common Application. Some people on College Confidential say they are sending their CV to Stanford anyway but I am not sure I should do this. I am already using the additional information section for something else so there is no room for my CV there. Thank you for your advise.

You have stumped “The Dean” with this one and will have to go directly to Stanford for adviCe (and be sure to spell it correctly when you write. Mixing up “advise” – a verb– with “advice”—a noun– is a very common mistake).

I get many questions much like yours every fall. And, up until this year, I’ve simply directed students (and parents) to the Stanford application instructions which USED TO specifically include résumés on the list of prohibited materials.

But recently I noticed that the word “résumé” is now conspicuously absent from the do-not-send roster. The revised list includes only potentially bulkier materials (research papers, newspaper articles, publications, and writing samples). However, these items were presented as examples and not as the only excluded submissions, so this leaves CV’s (the same as résumés) in a gray area and The Dean in the dark.

I have not been able to get an official response from the Stanford admission office, but you should certainly feel free to write to with your question about this—or about any other aspect of the admission process. Many students fear that contacting an admission office with questions will somehow work against them, (although there are certainly other students who write fartoo many times, as if to show exceptional interest and thus boost admission odds). The truth—as in most things—lies in moderation. Do send legitimate questions, like this one, that you can’t find answered reliably elsewhere (and the college’s own Web site usually is usually the most reliable source). But don’t beleaguer the busy admission folks, especially at Stanford where your contact with admission staff will not be tracked or earn you any sort of extra credit.

My deanly instincts suggest that, unless Stanford tells you otherwise, you should NOT send your CV (although I do wonder why the word “résumés” got lopped off the list this time around). Keep in mind that you can explain your most important or uncommon activity on the Stanford supplement, which asks applicants to write a mini-essay about one extracurricular endeavor. Stanford also allows one recommendation beyond the required teacher and counselor references, and it must come from someone who is not a teacher or counselor yet can provide “new insights” about you. So this could give you the opportunity to ask someone from your extracurricular life to write on your behalf– an employer, community service adviser, coach, music instructor, religious leader, etc. You can ask him or her to explain the activity in the course of providing the reference. Finally, for some Stanford applicants, the optional Arts Supplement can also provide a way to explain undertakings while showcasing talents.

“The Dean” regrets being unable to give you a more definitive response, but I hope that I’ve pointed you in the right direction. Perhaps other CC members reading this column have already contacted Stanford about this and will share the adviCe. 😉

Good luck to you with all of your applications.