Tagged: College admissions officers

Student-Written Counselor Recommendations

I recently learned that in many high schools students are told to write the recommendation or to tell the counselor what to write then to edit the document.

If this is the policy in the high school you attend you will need to know what the admissions office wants to read in the recommendation.

Every part of your application should contain different information.  For instance, don’t write your essay about the most important thing on your activities list.  That is covered already.  Write about something the reader can’t find elsewhere.

That principle applies to the counselor rec, too.  Write about things you care about that are outside of school-organizations, events, awards.  Include details that show executive skills like your reaction to failure (did you get extra help?); persistence when challenged (use an anecdote); critical thinking you’ve applied to projects; ways in which you’ve helped a person, club, or class outside of a leadership role or mandated volunteering.

You can add the WHY to information on your record.

Do you have a perfect attendance record?  That will show up on your transcript but the reader won’t know that you came to school everyday because you didn’t want to miss learning even one thing unless you tell them.

Did you join the modern dance club although you don’t like dancing because your best friend wanted to join but was afraid he/she would look stupid so you joined for moral support?

One way to prep for this task, ask 3 family members, 3 good friends and 3 acquaintances how they would describe you or what they see as your best qualities.  Ask for examples.

Even if you write the recommendation, its possible that the counselor will only use it a background information.  If you put in the work you will have a good chance of sending the colleges an accurate snapshot of who you are.

If you are asked to write the recommendation, I can help you gather and organize the information.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

 

 

 

 

It Takes 4 Minutes To Read Your College Application

From the Huffington Post

It Takes Four Minutes to Review What You’ve Done in Four Years

Sara Harberson 3/24/17

Four minutes. Four years. Oh, the irony and the sobering reality of modern day elite college admissions.

There used to be so much secrecy surrounding how admissions officers read college applications and how much time they spent on each application. Not anymore. The University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Admissions Office recently revealed in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education that it takes their staff a mere four minutes to read one application.

When I worked in that same office, it took me five or six times as long to initially read an application. That didn’t include the unaccounted time I spent re-reading, preparing, and meticulously going over each application for the selection committee. Back then, the reading and selection process moved swiftly. Fast forward to today, and Penn’s new reading and selection process moves at warp speed.

Penn officials say they needed to come up with a more sustainable model to handle the volume of applications they receive. Now, a team of two admissions officers reads a student’s application side-by-side. One person reviews the academic criteria (transcript, test scores, and recommendations), while the other person “reads” through the rest of the application (extracurricular involvement, essays, and interview report).

Within the four-minute period of time allotted, the two staff members make a recommendation on the admissions decision: ADMIT, WAITLIST/DEFER, DENY. And, then they move on to the next application.

Penn is not the only college doing this. Swarthmore, Emory, The California Institute of Technology, and Pomona College have all streamlined their reading and selection processes. I predict there will be more colleges to follow. This needs to be viewed as the new “normal” when applying to elite colleges.

How has it gotten to this point? The answer lies in the economics. All colleges want more applications and the lowest admit rate possible. But they do not want to enlist more admissions officers—that would be very expensive. So the only way a college can pull off reading tens of thousands of applications is to significantly reduce the amount of time they spend considering each student.

At least we know the truth. And knowledge is the ultimate power. Students should approach this process understanding that their very best self needs to be represented in the most succinct and powerful way in their application. Those four minutes should be the best four minutes of an admissions officers’ day.

Here are five ways to do that:

  1. Sync your objective measures to match the school you want to go to. Make sure your curriculum, grades, and test scores measure up with the profile of the admitted pool of students at the college. The objective pieces of the application need to be competitive for everything else in the application to matter.
  2. Strike gold with your recommendation letters. Every person writing a letter for you should know who you are, what you offer, and how the school community has been influenced by you. If the teacher or counselor writing for you sees you as a once-in-a-career student, the letter they write for you will reflect that.
  3. Optimize your extracurricular self. Find something so important to you and devote every chance you get to developing the idea, passion, or ability to its highest possible level. Significant impact on one extracurricular activity is much more powerful than a long list of “involvement” with little or no impact.
  4. Soul search for your college essay. This will lead you to choosing the best topic for your main college essay. If the things that you write down could be written by anyone, cross them off the list. Your essay should be one-of-a-kind.
  5. Crush the college supplement. The supplement for elite colleges usually separates the “competitive students” from the “admitted students.” The essays on the supplement should have the same high quality craftsmanship as everything else in the application.

Today’s admissions officers have extraordinarily less time to consider the nuances and details of a student’s college application. This new approach forces students to think more succinctly about who they are and how they want to present themselves in an application. The new mantra for the applying student needs to be seize the moment; that’s all the time you get.

Four minutes. Four years. Oh, the irony and the sobering reality of modern day elite college admissions.

There used to be so much secrecy surrounding how admissions officers read college applications and how much time they spent on each application. Not anymore. The University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Admissions Office recently revealed in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education that it takes their staff a mere four minutes to read one application.

When I worked in that same office, it took me five or six times as long to initially read an application. That didn’t include the unaccounted time I spent re-reading, preparing, and meticulously going over each application for the selection committee. Back then, the reading and selection process moved swiftly. Fast forward to today, and Penn’s new reading and selection process moves at warp speed.

Penn officials say they needed to come up with a more sustainable model to handle the volume of applications they receive. Now, a team of two admissions officers reads a student’s application side-by-side. One person reviews the academic criteria (transcript, test scores, and recommendations), while the other person “reads” through the rest of the application (extracurricular involvement, essays, and interview report).

Within the four-minute period of time allotted, the two staff members make a recommendation on the admissions decision: ADMIT, WAITLIST/DEFER, DENY. And, then they move on to the next application.

Penn is not the only college doing this. Swarthmore, Emory, The California Institute of Technology, and Pomona College have all streamlined their reading and selection processes. I predict there will be more colleges to follow. This needs to be viewed as the new “normal” when applying to elite colleges.

How has it gotten to this point? The answer lies in the economics. All colleges want more applications and the lowest admit rate possible. But they do not want to enlist more admissions officers—that would be very expensive. So the only way a college can pull off reading tens of thousands of applications is to significantly reduce the amount of time they spend considering each student.

At least we know the truth. And knowledge is the ultimate power. Students should approach this process understanding that their very best self needs to be represented in the most succinct and powerful way in their application. Those four minutes should be the best four minutes of an admissions officers’ day.

Here are five ways to do that:

  1. Sync your objective measures to match the school you want to go to. Make sure your curriculum, grades, and test scores measure up with the profile of the admitted pool of students at the college. The objective pieces of the application need to be competitive for everything else in the application to matter.
  2. Strike gold with your recommendation letters. Every person writing a letter for you should know who you are, what you offer, and how the school community has been influenced by you. If the teacher or counselor writing for you sees you as a once-in-a-career student, the letter they write for you will reflect that.
  3. Optimize your extracurricular self. Find something so important to you and devote every chance you get to developing the idea, passion, or ability to its highest possible level. Significant impact on one extracurricular activity is much more powerful than a long list of “involvement” with little or no impact.
  4. Soul search for your college essay. This will lead you to choosing the best topic for your main college essay. If the things that you write down could be written by anyone, cross them off the list. Your essay should be one-of-a-kind.
  5. Crush the college supplement. The supplement for elite colleges usually separates the “competitive students” from the “admitted students.” The essays on the supplement should have the same high quality craftsmanship as everything else in the application.

Today’s admissions officers have extraordinarily less time to consider the nuances and details of a student’s college application. This new approach forces students to think more succinctly about who they are and how they want to present themselves in an application. The new mantra for the applying student needs to be seize the moment; that’s all the time you get.

Increasingly, competition for college admission is making it difficult to predict where a student will gain the the coveted “Yes!”.    Every section of each application must be carefully curated with targeted information.  I’m here to help you develop the application that will stand out from the pack.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-12-6679

Self Reported Academic Records: New and Time Consuming

Some seniors will find that college applications are asking the student to fill in a form with details of all of the courses they have taken and will take over 4 years of high school, including the final grade.  According to one admissions office, this is because while high school transcripts have pretty much the same information the format is different on each one.  Figuring out the location of the material the admission officer is hunting is time consuming. Students are asked to use the form so information is presented in a standardized  manner making comparisons among applications much easier.

Now is the time to take a look at the applications you will be using to see if any prefer SRAR.  Another avenue to get this information is to email your admissions rep at each college and ask about self reporting grades and scores.

If  at least one college uses this form, check online to see if your entire high school transcript is available to you.  Should only the last year’s curriculum and grades appear, contact guidance for an unofficial copy of your entire history.  Perhaps in 8th grade you took Algebra I or a year of foreign language that counts toward fulfilling a foreign language requirement; you may need to access your 8th grade record, too.

Once you have the transcript in front of you, make notes.  Start with 9th grade and write down your courses, final grade and a description of what the course covered.  If your high school has an electronic course book from which you choose your classes, consult this tool to help with course descriptions.  Avoid guessing.

Why should you do this now?  The SRAR is a convenience for the admissions office and a nuisance for students.  Filling out the form is time consuming.  Do it now as the school year winds down and you have fewer pressing assignments so that when you are ready to apply you won’t need to invest a couple of hours tracking down the information.

Be assured that if you are accepted you will be required to submit official test scores and an official transcript from each high school you have attended.

If you’re ready for a consult on your list or to begin writing essays, filling out your apps, lets make an appointment! stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679