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The best college admissions advice-from colleges themselves!

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Replies to: The best college admissions advice-from colleges themselves!

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35356 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Love that word, MoM17. It says so much.
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  • Johnny523Johnny523 271 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Though how the heck anyone who hasn’t visited the school can decide it’s the one and only, I don’t understand, but yes, it happens.

    Back in the olden days of the 70s and 80s, lots of people never visited schools they applied to and ultimately attended. But then the whole admissions thing wasn't anything like the craziness it is today.
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  • Johnny523Johnny523 271 replies11 threads Junior Member
    MIT’s classic “Apply Sideways” should be required reading for every high-aiming student. https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/applying_sideways/

    I never saw this before. I love the final paragraph.
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  • whidbeyite2002whidbeyite2002 219 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @momofsenior1, I read the JHU “Essays That Worked” after my daughter was accepted. I loved that! Also, I appreciated JHU’s focus on collaboration in this year’s supplement.
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  • whidbeyite2002whidbeyite2002 219 replies1 threads Junior Member
  • Andrew2199Andrew2199 73 replies6 threads Junior Member
    As one of several lectures/discussions offered at my recent college reunion (Grinnell), the admissions office hosted an advice session for parents of children in the college search process. It was full of helpful tips but what stood out to me was a discussion of characteristics and attributes they look for in students along with red flags.

    Look For:
    - Academic risks
    - Adventurous
    - Articulate
    - Great recommendations
    - Committed
    - Speaks up

    Big Red Flags:
    - Negative recommendations
    - Not hard worker
    - Downward academic progress
    - Easy courses/always in comfort zone/no big challenges
    - Bad interview

    Many of these items were not surprising, but I was surprised by how much they emphasized academic risk taking.
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  • NYC2018nycNYC2018nyc 362 replies16 threads Member
    agree! In #27 they say they want academic risks, but then they put a big red flag if someone has downward academic progress. So do you take that extra challenging AP class? Or not? Or only if you know you can get a 5?
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35356 replies399 threads Senior Member
    If they want success in rigor, there you have it. It's not just taking the class.

    Drop down in rigor to get an A and maybe you're not their type. But this refinment really only applies to the more competitive colleges, those with so many highly competitive applicants that they can be choosey.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35356 replies399 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    As ever, it's not just "risk" in choosing classes, not outright, "Gee, I work 3x as hard at math, I'll take a chance on MVCalc."

    And that Grinnell lst is not the sum total or a checklist. But it should be thought provoking for a thinking sort of kid. "Hmm, how do I show this and the companion traits?"
    edited May 2019
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  • homerdoghomerdog 7147 replies113 threads Senior Member
    @lookingforward exactly. Kids have to show the traits in their apps that schools want. These schools only know what you show them. They read the app, the recommendations and maybe they do an interview. That’s it. So kids should know who they are and make sure they show it to the schools. One might have a lot of traits that schools want but they won’t know it unless it’s somewhere in the info you give them.

    Students should figure out what their transcript tells the colleges. And what their ECs say about them. And know their teachers well enough to know what they will write. Then, get anything else you want the schools to know in the essays or make sure to show it in an interview.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35356 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Lots of MIT applicants have expanded ... and not tanked.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82715 replies738 threads Senior Member
    NYU2018nyc wrote:
    agree! In #27 they say they want academic risks, but then they put a big red flag if someone has downward academic progress. So do you take that extra challenging AP class? Or not? Or only if you know you can get a 5?

    If you know you will get an A and 5, then that is a red flag of "easy courses/always in comfort zone/no big challenges". If not, but you do not get an A and 5, then that is a red flag of "downward academic progress". So you need to take hard courses that you are not assured of an A and 5 (i.e. take academic risks), and then earn an A and 5 (to avoid the risk turning into one of the red flags).

    In other words, analogous to the answer to the question "which is better, A in easy course or B in hard course?" which is "A in hard course".
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35356 replies399 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    Nothing wrong with a 20:1 college taking the best of the best, as *they* see it. Just taking a magic class isn't it.

    Lets not get caught up parsing what "risk" means. It's not jumping out of an airplane or swimming with sharks or foolishly choosing courses. I took it to mean a form of intellectual curiosity and willingness. Go for it. But after the choice, you still need to do well. Otherwise, they've got plenty of other applicants who did.

    We've got to quit acting like this is so opaque. As if we need a recipe. "Academic risk" can also extend to ECs. How you enrich your learning, outside the high school box.

    They don't want kids they have to spoon feed info to. Thinking is a broad skill. Not just reading a road map.

    It's so counterintuitive to speak of colleges that want activated kids who seek knowledge and expansion and then complain that they don't write it out for you.

    Harvard, btw, does talk about this rounding. And stretch and getting your best performance. MIT expresses the same. But that alone isn't a lock.
    edited May 2019
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6894 replies30 threads Senior Member
    I think taking risks with explanation on the application shows maturity. Especially if it doesn't work out in the applicants favor.

    My son used his chess coach (also his AP Physics teacher) and his AP research teacher for his LOR not the math and pure science teacher for engineering schools. His chess coach knew him as an 8th grader that traveled with the high school team when he got accepted into the high school and they invited him to travel from Chicago to Nashville for a major tournament.

    He also could only take 2AP classes his junior year at his all honors school due to scheduling. He thought he was doomed for any "good" college. So he wanted to prove to himself and colleges he could handle it plus he found the 2 AP classes actually easier then the honor classes. Having more depth made it more interesting for him. He took 6 AP with MVC plus orchestra his senior year and "A" 'd out. We actually saw him do homework nightly but he found school more interesting also. He proved to himself he was ready for college. He, as I say.. "bet" on himself.

    His essay was totally non typical but was unique to him no doubt.

    So I think it depends on where your GPA is and what colleges you are applying to also and your intended major. If applying for stem and your application doesn't speak to that with courses and ec's etc or if your applying for writing and don't have any advance courses and interests to me that speaks volumes. As shown every year the best grades don't alway prove out. I think the essay comes more into play then we think when someone is truly themselves and original and personal and in their own voice. Also what you do with your time means something also. You can always explain away a lower grade here and there if needed. Don't think perfection wins out over an interesting, motivated applicant. But maybe I am wrong also.
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 4016 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Lol that admissions officers are apparently unable or unwilling to speak clearly and truthfully. Do not say you support academic risk taking. It is not true, and it is misleading, and if truth in advertising laws applied to this field, it would fail that standard and the company would be forced to withdraw the statement.
    Add the qualifier "if it succeeds". Minimum standards of truthfulness are not too much to ask, even in the college industry.
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