Admissions officers only have a limited amount of time to spend on each application, and if you add too much, they will be more annoyed than impressed. One Ivy League admissions officer I knew had a mantra, “the thicker the application, the thicker the applicant.” Don’t be that thick applicant—be selective about what you include.
What should you include in your college application, then? The best things are those that show off a creative talent or important aspect of your personality that can not be captured by the main parts of the application. Have you been playing piano since you were two, and your piano teacher thinks you are the next Beethoven? Include a CD of your best song. Are you a gifted photographer/painter/writer? Great! Include a photo/painting/poem/short story. Just don’t include your whole portfolio—choose one or two of the best!
What should you leave out? Articles detailing awards you won are unnecessary—you can list those in your application and on your resume. Also, if your talent is something you dabble in and not a real passion, it might be better not to bother. You can still list whatever it is on your resume. Be conservative about extra materials that you include. The last thing you want is for the admissions officer to wonder, “Why is this applicant wasting my time?”
Remember that including supplementary materials is exactly what it sounds like—optional. The application is designed to include al the information that the committee really needs to know. There is no harm in not including anything at all. Only include things that you consider to be really important and special. Do not include things just for the sake of it!.
Finally, if you decide to include something, make sure it represents your very best work. This is your one shot—put your best foot forward. Good luck!