Question: Since submitting my application, I've added many things to my resume. How can I update my application with this new information?
It's fine to send an update letter to colleges. Now that many colleges are trying to go paper-free, email is the best choice. Direct your message to the admission-office staff member who oversees applicants from your high school. (If you don't know who that is, call the admission office and ask for a name and contact information.) You can also copy the main admissions-office address.
This sample below was used by a student who was deferred in the Early Action round by her first-choice college, which I'll call "Fantasy State." Even if you are simply sending in new information and you weren't deferred, this format would work for you, too.
However, while I feel that all deferred candidates who want to stay in the running should send some sort of update letter, those students who have not yet received any sort of admissions verdict should only submit updates if the new news is truly significant. So make sure that the updates you send are important enough to foist extra reading on beleaguered admission officials. My rule of thumb: The more selective the school, the bigger and better your updates should be. Otherwise, don't send them.
Here's the sample letter:
Dear Fantasy State College Admissions Committee,
It's been three months since I submitted my application, so I am writing this letter to update you on the news in my life since then:
-I auditioned for and received the lead in our school's spring production of Bye Bye Birdie.
-I got a 96 on my report card in AP Calculus (up from 83 last trimester) which was definitely an accomplishment for me.
-I was nominated by my high school to attend "Girls' State" in June.
-I have started volunteering weekly at a local school for children with autism. I have been amazed by the range of abilities, including the special talents, I've seen there.
-I learned how to make great sushi (no small feat, since last year I didn't even like sushi).
-I am teaching myself how to play the piano (and with surprising success!).
-I have faced a very bad prognosis for my grandma, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It has led me to think hard about--and appreciate--my family and my faith. It has also made me even more determined to pursue a career in medical research.
Keeping busy has helped me to take my mind off of college admissions as well as the other stresses in my life. I hope that this report about these latest activities will enable you to know more about me and to view my application in a favorable light. I am still eager to pursue a Bachelor's degree in theater performance while completing pre-med requirements. Many colleges I explored would make this goal nearly impossible, but my Fantasy State interviewer told me that she did exactly the same thing! She pointed out how that, like me, math was her weak suit but that the Fantasy State Medical Mentors program does a great job of keeping aspiring doctors from struggling in tough classes. She also explained how the quarter system might facilitate some tricky scheduling, and I've already selected the classes that I hope to take next fall. I look forward to hearing from you soon, and I want you to know that Fantasy State College still remains my #1 choice.