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The best college admissions advice-from colleges themselves!

Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 6,065 Senior Member
Some of the best advice on the college application process comes from colleges themselves, posted right on their websites. What useful advice have you found on a college's website? If possible provide a link and a synopsis or highlights.

I'll start with one from Bates College:

Some highlights:

Finding the right college-
Because the college search begins with self-awareness and personal assessment, “a lot of this process is about the why,” said Uy [Director of Admissions at Bates]. “It’s OK to say you want to be a lawyer, or be pre-med, or pursue engineering, but ask yourself why. What sparked that interest?” From there, a student can ask other questions. “How are you motivated? Is it competition or grades or just wanting to do your best?”

....To be sure, there is no “predictive formula” when it comes to the college search. So rather than trying to squeeze yourself into some magic admission formula that doesn’t even exist be authentic to who you are. Think about the things that matter most to you.

On the essay-
Uy and Madden [Sr. AD at Dartmouth] made it clear that your essay should not hinge on epic or cataclysmic events in your life....Some of the best essays can be “Seinfeldian," They could be about nothing but a few moments in your ordinary life that I can’t find anywhere else in your application. If you could take me into your life for 5 minutes, I think that is a successful essay....To that end, make the essay about you. It doesn’t have to be exciting. It doesn’t have to move us.

Let’s say you got an A in math. Maybe you do well in math because it comes naturally to you. So you choose the teacher on that basis, and the recommendation that we get says, basically, "She’s really good at math." Since talent is pretty easy to identify — and since every student applying to college will have some talent in something — that’s an unhelpful recommendation.

Instead, we encourage students to seek out teachers they’ve engaged with and people who know them well. Such teachers might be ones who’ve seen you take a dissenting opinion in class, or seen you collaborate with peers, or seen you take feedback or setbacks well. When a recommendation shares that information, it brings you, your personality, what you will add to the classroom to life.

[Students will] say, "I want to apply Early Decision, but I don’t know what college". Problem is, that’s like saying, "I want to get married, I just don’t know to whom yet." Early Decision makes sense for the student who is all-in on one college. But you need to feel a total commitment to a college. “Ninety-nine percent is not enough because that 1 percent of doubt will eat at you all senior year and make you question your decision,” Uy said.

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

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,154 Senior Member
    Admission criteria listed up front (and tells you where to find admission criteria for majors with higher standards):


    Full transparency about past admission cycle admission thresholds:

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 27,507 Senior Member
    I agree students should carefully read admissions sites of the schools they are interested in applying. Parents too. Would save on some redundant questions at the tours. But take the info with more than grains of salt. In fact grab the salt shaker.

    If colleges really want to walk the talk on ED, they should require an interview from every single ED candidate. An in depth one. If the applicant can’t visit the school for it, arrange a Skype with alumni one. 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. That’s how one Southern kid I know ended up in Colgate, with no clue what he was in for and messed up his chances of a good award locally where he would have been more comfortable, and where he returned and had to commute to school since he used up his freshman status on a pig in a poke. I still shake my head on that one.

    These schools push and reward ED even as they wag their fingers and warn against it. They are salivating to get those admissions sewn up too.

    And what the heck with SCEA hedges for HPY? They can do EA. Instead of doing all these gymnastics bring those to ED1 and 2, EA1 and 2 (which I didn’t know existed till recently)

    These schools know danged well they are contributing to the crazy dance.

    The essays Ive seen that have gotten comments from some AOs certainly not “Day in the Life”. The advice is generic gotta know those rules but they love it when you go outside the lines well.
  • mountainsoulmountainsoul Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Penn likes intellectually curious students who are open to new experiences.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 31,966 Senior Member
    Lol, what colleges would that be, mdpmdp?

    Simple: don't apply ED if it doesn't suit you to commit. Trash the crapshoot notions. Don't spend more time figuring how to get out of ED than you do on the college choice.

    Great thread topic, @Sue22 . But I'd caution other posters not to assume based on what one college or a few say. Look into your own targets. Process what you read.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 5,480 Senior Member
    JHU has a section on their admission website called "essays that worked". https://apply.jhu.edu/application-process/essays-that-worked/

    Purdue's Office of Future Engineering has a ton of info about what makes a Boiler. https://www.purdue.edu/futureengineers/What To Know/Common Questions/Why Purdue Engineering.html. "Leadership" appears in so many places I've lost count. Guess what should be highlighted on an application to Purdue CoE? ; )

  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 31,966 Senior Member
    Just bear in mind that says leadership characteristics. Not titles.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,154 Senior Member
    And what the heck with SCEA hedges for HPY? They can do EA. Instead of doing all these gymnastics bring those to ED1 and 2, EA1 and 2 (which I didn’t know existed till recently)

    Basically, any of HYPS do not want applicants to apply early to both it and a cross admit competitor. Cross admit competitors with EA instead of ED would be the others of HYPS and MIT. So the write exceptions for public, rolling, etc. that cover many schools that they do not consider competitors.
  • damon30damon30 Registered User Posts: 1,007 Senior Member
    MIT’s classic “Apply Sideways” should be required reading for every high-aiming student. https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/applying_sideways/
    Taken to its logical conclusion, this "apply sideways" advice is saying become someone that will be accomplished and famous and (most likely) rich even without attending college. Then all the top schools will compete for you, so that they can claim they had something to do with your success.
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 2,438 Senior Member
    Cross-referencing the thread, "the mess that is elite college admissions" for the candid opinion of a top LAC admission director and the relative value one should place on college's statements.
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 6,065 Senior Member
    ^ Just a note, the writer in question was an Assistant Dean of Admission (the entry level admissions position) at Wesleyan from his graduation in 2003 until 2006, during which time he was earning his MFA. That doesn't mean there's not merit to what he says, but this was 13-16 years ago and he was hardly the Director of Admission (there are 3 levels of staff between Associate Dean and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Wesleyan.)
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