College Admissions Guidance

Blog posts about college admissions topics such as essays, extracurriculars,  planning, mental health, etc.

6-things to watch for when selecting colleges

application strategy future planning Sep 22, 2021
  • Applying early decision/action often boosts your chances of acceptance. (For an interesting analysis of this, check out the book, The Early Admissions Game)
  • You are almost guaranteed no merit scholarship if you ED into a top-rated college
  • Being from a rural state can help your chances of being admitted to a metro-based school and vice versa. This applies to being from a different part of the US as well. Colleges take pride in their geographic diversity and seek students from all 50 states and around the world.
  • If your parents did not attend college or if they work in blue-collar occupations, you may be viewed more favorably. There’s a reason why the Common App asks questions about your parents - it helps colleges understand your broader background and context so they can assess you more holistically
  • You will generally be viewed more favorably if you are not perceived to be privileged or coming from money. For example, having to work a job to support your family while in high school makes you sound relatable and down-to-Earth. Admissions committees tend to include not only faculty and alumni but also people from the broader community who may not have attended the university or any university. I get the impression that many colleges really do want to understand your story, situation, and the unique challenges you face. This helps them add a bit of holism and compassion to an otherwise cold and rigid process.
  • The Ivy League looks at your grades, class rank, and test scores and computes something called an Academic Index (AI) score to rate you against other applicants. There are free websites where you can compute your AI score to get a *broad* idea of how competitive you are. The Ivies have been using AI since the 1950s, and it was first revealed by former Dartmouth admissions officer, Michele Hernandez, in her tell-all book, A is for Admission