Brown Admissions Advice-->The Number 1 mistake in college applications

<p>When I visited Brown a couple weeks ago, I met with an admissions officer, who was extremely helpful. When I asked him what the biggest mistake that students make in their college application process, I was rather surprised. No, the mistake doesn't lie within the essay or grammatical errors. On the contrary, it is with recommendations. While most recommendations are positive, there are many instances when these letters don't align with the applicant. In other words, the picture the teacher conveys doesn't align with the picture the student conveys himself. Therefore, the adcom is unable to piece together the puzzle pieces and form a mental image of this student. Let's take student A, who shows that he's a creative thinker in his college essay. However, his history teacher says that he's quick to name the facts in class, but not so strong in his analytically thinking. This creates a fragmented image, hurting even students with the best of stats. The point is: If you show your teachers that do your recommendations your college essay, they should easily believe that you wrote it and that it truly shows your personality. Otherwise, colleges will see right through you.</p>

<p>Thoughts? Anyone?</p>

<p>That's a good point. A lot of students craft their college essay, even by accident, in such a way that it doesn't jive with their behavior in class. You try really, really hard in a college essay - much more than you might try in class, even if you don't get outside help that would make your essay sound not like yourself.</p>

<p>For quieter students, this would probably be an issue and I don't believe in every case that there's anything for the colleges to "see through". I'm highly reserved in nature, people around me typically see what I allow them to, it's a highly controlled version of my actual personality. I'm standoffish and rarely trust or "let go" in front of others I don't know well. Unfortunately, my teachers usually would end up seeing what everyone else does because of the environment. My mock trial coach is the only teacher who really knows me, so of course I'd ask him. </p>

<p>But my essay reveals what is inside, and I try to write in a way which exposes the fact that there is a contrast. My actions and the situations are all what people on the outside see, but the essay reveals what the feeling is behind it. Perhaps it wouldn't be as "believable" paired with an unbiased opinion from an adult I didn't know particularly well, but I would hope that admissions officers would realize the limitations of a teacher's true knowledge of a student, not everything is so transparent. </p>

<p>My personality comes through in my work, I don't speak the way I write, but I write the way I think. And of course both expressions of personality are important, but I don't believe a college should dismiss someone as deceitful because someone sees them a little differently.</p>

<p>Having read essays from top stats kids, I might alter your "take" this way: the stats and rigor, awards and LoRs can present a picture of a strong, smart, reasonably aware kid. And then, the essay is awful. Maybe even dreadful. </p>

<p>You'd be surprised about essays.
Imagine an LoR that raves about the kid's insights, maturity, even writing skills- and an essay that suggests otherwise.</p>

<p>If essays are so important, shouldn't applicants pay enough attention to them, at least one or two courses' time and effort, that could translate to thousands of dollars? Perhaps most students don't do that, thus their essays reveal their immaturity.</p>

<p>Are essays more predictive than high school GPA, tests scores and LORs for success in college and beyond?</p>

<p>^What makes essays important is that they are the element most under the applicant's control. </p>

<p>This will be daunting, but it's interesting: Harvard</a> College Admissions § Applying: Freshman Application Process</p>

<p>That's pretty interesting. Lesson noted! </p>

<p>I think part of the problem may lie with a lot of teachers using and reusing templates though rather than focusing on specific attributes of each student.</p>

<p>@LookingFoward that link to the Harvard College Admissions was great. The questions that the admissions comittee asks are great. Thanks!</p>