The recent New York Times article “Advice College Admissions Officers Give Their Own Kids” explores interviews from college admissions officers from an array of universities and gets their perspective on what they tell their own kids going through the process. Here are some key takeaways that we agree with.
1. Earlier is usually better:
Hughes recommends our students apply Early Action to help give applicants an edge on admission and aid, and to reduce the stress factor in the process. This does not mean apply Early Decision, or ED, which means you must commit to a school once you’re admitted. Early Action is not binding in any way, and you can apply to all your schools Early Action with no commitment.
“As an admissions officer, when that deadline comes around, I see a huge spike in applications. That’s when the procrastinators send them in. It’s advantageous to get ahead of the bubble. Think about it strategically: there are thousands of applications and essays to get through. If you get yours in early, the reader may be more relaxed and in a better mood at that point in the process…
“I tell my kids, ‘Do not wait for the deadline to submit your applications.’ There’s a rule in our house that I pay for the applications completed before Labor Day, but after that, my children are responsible for the fees. Getting those applications in early is the best way to reduce stress senior year.”’
– Clark Brigger, executive director for undergraduate admissions, Penn State University
2. Think thoughtfully about leadership.
If you volunteer just to volunteer, you’re bound to end up disappointed or disinterested. Find a need and then fill it in a creative way. If you’re already involved in some way, figure out how to deepen that connection or expand a project.
“We would talk a lot with our sons about leadership opportunities, and I think that’s the area where we had to give them more guidance. We would say to our sons: Where do you think you can be of greater help? What’s going on at your school, what are the issues? What are the things you like to do where you could provide leadership?”
– Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, associate vice chancellor, enrollment management, University of California, Los Angeles
“Mr. Schmill offers high school students this litmus test when choosing extracurricular activities: “If you couldn’t write about this on your college application, would you still do it?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ then you shouldn’t be doing it”
– Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. Take notes while you’re researching or visiting schools
If you’re visiting schools over spring break or the summer, you might get a headache from all the different campuses and pieces of information. Recording your thoughts and impressions in the moment can make the decision process easier, or, if you’re a junior, can help make your applications in the fall stronger.
“When he visits these schools and does his research, he’ll fill in the spreadsheet, and it will be a nice road map for him. At some point, once you visit two or three schools in a day or five schools a week, they begin to blend, and you definitely want some bread crumbs to remind you of where you’ve been.”
– Gil Villanueva, associate vice president and dean of admission, University of Richmond
Read the whole article, and get other perspectives, here.