Preparing for College

Should I Send Extra Writing Samples with my College Applications?

Question: I have a narrative essay that I want to submit with my college applications. I wrote it in junior English, and I feel it's one of my better pieces, with one exception: there are a couple of pretty big typos. Should I still submit it? Should I tack on a little note explaining that the typos aren't typical for me? I have another good essay, about 4 or 5 pages long, that I wrote about a book. I don't want to annoy the admissions officers, so would it be too much to send both? Or would sending both help to redeem myself on the typos?

I suggest that you send the narrative essay, but I don't think you should send both extra pieces. Unless a college has specifically asked for a graded writing sample (and a few do) then a four- or five-page discussion of a book you read is extraneous, especially since you'll already be sending the narrative essay as an unsolicited writing sample.

Why can't you simply retype your narrative piece with the corrections in place? Again, unless you are responding to a request by a college to submit a graded writing sample, then it makes perfect sense to revise your 11th-grade essay and send it as an extra writing sample. If, however, you are applying to one or more colleges that request the "real" paper you wrote for school, then I suggest that you attach a very brief cover note explaining--and correcting--your errors.

Of course, if you're applying specifically to writing programs that request a portfolio of your work, then that's a different story--so to speak--and you can send multiple pieces, according to the school's instructions.