The department I am applying to doesn't explicitly require a resume (and doesn't even recommend it), but there is an item named "resume" in the "supplemental material" dropdown menu which I have overlooked. I realized that I didn't upload the resume only after the application has been submitted. I have contacted the admission office, but the auto-response says "We cannot update submitted applications with new SOP or CV or other information."

There is some information in my resume which isn't mentioned in the SOP, e.g. my experience as a teaching assistant. While I have requested a professor from my home university to include the TA experience in his recommendation (because I am his TA), it is said that most institutions in the U.S. don't read letters from Chinese professors. Besides, I suppose a resume serves a nice overview of my previous preparation, so I feel like the absence of a resume is going to hurt the probability I get admitted. On the other hand, there must be some reasons why the resume is made optional, unlike most institutions.

Should I be concerned? Is there anything I can do at this point?

  • 1
    I hope downvoters explain how this question can be improved. Is it unclear, too board, or off-topic?
    – nalzok
    Jan 20, 2020 at 0:00
  • I do feel for you regarding US and China relations. I'm in a long distance relationship with a woman from China. It would be challenging enough without having to cope with the various political things going on.
    – puppetsock
    Jan 22, 2020 at 21:39
  • It is an interesting situation. Would you be allowed to fill up a second application with the exact same data + your resume? If there are not expilicitly mentioned warning saying "do not apply twice!", I suppose you might be able to get away using a different e-mail adress and a different phone number. Jan 25, 2020 at 20:07

3 Answers 3


We cannot update submitted applications with new SOP or CV or other information.

Unfortunately, this means that you will not be able to update your application due to the regulations of admission. Thus, overthinking it will not help but to make you uncomfortable.

Regarding to your situation, there are two possible scenarios I can think of:

  1. The application interface in the website is standard for every department. Therefore, it might be the case that the committee will discard all the resumes uploaded to the server. In this case, nothing changes for you.
  2. Although it states otherwise in the website, a short resume might be OK for the admission committee, for the purpose of demonstrating relevant skills of yours that you had to skip for CV and SoP. If you have none, then again, nothing changes for you.

I personally think that the first scenario is more likely since it is not explicitly recommended. Considering both scenarios above, you are only worse off if you have been in some off-topic projects, which demonstrates your abilities and/or skills that might be relevant to the position you are applying to.

However, if you really want to learn if you are in a disadvantage, I'd suggest you ask one of the committee members.

  • 1
    When you email, instead of asking if you are at a disadvantage, it would be better to just include your resume, explaining that it contains information about your experience as a TA which might otherwise be missing in the application.
    – Zach H
    Jan 27, 2020 at 14:55

It seems as if you have done all you could. If they won't accept supplementary material, then they won't. I'm not sure about the comment on not reading letters, though. It seems like it would be a flaw in the system as long as the letters are in (readable) English.

If you get past initial screening you can raise such thing in interviews or in future correspondence, of course.

And, take more care in the future, of course, though it doesn't help at this moment.

  • My experience with letters of recommendation from Chinese professors is that they do get read but they're often frustratingly uninformative (e.g., the applicant comes from a good family). If the letter says the applicant did a great job as a TA and gives some details about that greatness, I think it will be noticed. Jan 20, 2020 at 21:58

There is a power dynamic in the application process that any applicant needs to be conscious of. There are only a small number of positions for a large number of applicants, which grows to be a very large number at elite institutions. In other words, there is a significant power imbalance to the detriment of the applicant.

The consequence of this is that the institution that offers the position sets the terms of engagement. Defying or even questioning these terms of engagement is a surefire way to get excluded from the process, and thus rejected for the position. Practically speaking, this means that if an institution asks for information in a particular format, you'll need to be prepared to change everything in order to suit that institution's needs.

A second question is as to what needs may result in a format that excludes a resume. While the specific answer will depend on the institution in question, a general reason is that reviewing resumes takes a long time. Institutions that receive a large number of applications therefore often try to standardize the application process in order to save money. This can mean that they standardize sections of the resume submission process, or do away with resumes altogether.

As an applicant, this type of standardization is frustrating because it makes the application process more stifling, more time-consuming, and more dehumanizing than it already is. This is the price job applicants pays for the power imbalance.

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