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We have gotten hundreds—approaching thousands—of emails and calls in the past week. Early decision has come out and people don’t understand why they were deferred or rejected. Our students did phenomenally well, but it seems, as we predicted, that more people than ever are getting turned away. This makes sense. School’s haven’t increased the number of kids they accept while applicant pools have expanded exponentially. It’s incredibly hard to get in. And people don’t like that.
By the time kids get to the interview, there are so many strenuous, variable parts of the operation, that they are usually just ready to assert control over what they can—namely, the essay and the interview. While we fully understand the desire to work hard at an area of the application where you can exert some effort with the objective of producing a result, unfortunately, no matter how much you put into the interview, it’s just not going to have much bearing on your admission. While essays can make or break an acceptance, interviews are also an exercise in you getting to learn about the school.
Picking the right college can feel like the most important decision of your life. And for most of you, it basically is. In this post, we go over some angles you should start thinking about before jumping into the selection process.
The college application is holistic. What that means is each part of it should help to complete a picture of the applicant for the admissions committee. As such, no two parts should be the same. A lot of kids end up writing their essays about something that’s already represented elsewhere in the application, like an extra-curricular. While we typically advise against doing that, there is an exception.
Getting rejected from an early decision school can be gut-wrenching…for parents. Your kid has worked so hard, missed out on social activities in the name of extra-curricular ones, visited scores of colleges, and finally aligned their hopes on that perfect school only to be told that, well, this year isn’t their year, after all. Rejection is bad enough. What makes this time of year worse for kids who get the dreaded thin envelope is parents who are shaken, as well, and not doing a great job of hiding it.
We have been conditioned to believe that there is a very specific checklist of requirements to get into a great college. First comes the mandatory minimums of excellent grades and scores, followed by knockout essays. On the second tier lie the extra-curriculars, the recommendations and of course, the impressive hours of community service you’re supposed to somehow cram in instead of sleeping. But one thing on the list is not like the others; colleges require you to submit test scores, grades, essays, recommendations and a resume, but what a lot of kids don’t realize is that contrary to popular belief, community service can really be extra.
The odds of you getting into a school where you don’t fall into the range for GPA or scores is slim. But if you’re on the cusp, having great essays can tip the odds in your favor. They are an absolutely crucial part of the application and something we are very rigorous with in helping our own students. In this post, we discuss strategies for writing killer supplements.
The goal of the essay is to tell a story that illuminates something new about you to the admissions committee. Many students take this as an opportunity to try and get deep. Students frequently write about tragedy or major, life-altering obstacles they’ve faced. Some students choose to write about how they’ve grappled with something like addiction or disease. While those experiences are valid, there is a whole separate section just for them. This essay is not the appropriate platform. The trouble with writing about, well, trouble, is that one often falls short of connecting with the anonymous readers, and the whole point if the exercise is to connect with those very people.
We want to start this post by drawing an important distinction that is often overlooked: going to a community college or state school for two years and then transferring to a top tier school doesn’t work. That system can work if you’re transferring from a satellite campus to a main campus, but won’t get you from Temple to Penn. Here’s why:
By this time of year, many kids are anxiously awaiting to hear back from their top Early Decision school. Inevitably, there’s another group of students who either waited, or had some doubts, and decide that they wished they had applied Early Decision. Enter, ED II.