Should I Send Colleges Unsolicited Writing Samples?

Question: I’m applying early action to some top schools. I think I have a strong profile, overall. However, I’m a somewhat strong writer (I attended the Telluride Association Summer Program for Juniors) and I was wondering if I should submit a portfolio of (perhaps 2) writing pieces (definitely not personal essays; more like essays dealing with social/ethical issues)? I don’t have any major writing awards (only local competitions) and no publications, so I worry that my writing abilities with a more critical essay won’t shine through. I’m applying as an intended Classics/Linguistics major, if that has any impact.

If writing social or ethical commentary is your strength, then it’s probably fine … even wise … to send a couple samples of your work.  Just be sure to check college Web sites carefully to see if there are specific instructions on how or where to send unsolicited materials. (Note, however, that sometimes these instructions are pertinent to only arts supplements or to slides or CD’s, so you may have to wing it when deciding what to do with your own submissions.)

Limiting your extra essays to two is a good idea. If you’re undecided about which pieces to send and are choosing among many, seek out advice from someone whose opinion you trust … perhaps a history or English teacher, a club advisor, or even a Telluride mentor. (And the fact that you were admitted to—and attended—Telluride should work in your favor, too.)

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