Where is your college application going? A lot of the stress that comes with the college application process is the unfamiliarity of all. Believe it or not, there isn’t a College Admission God who judges your application and crushes all your dreams. Neither is it as simple as one person stamping “accept” or “reject” over the entirety of your life work.
The process is actually a bit more complex and meaningful than you would think. Though private schools of course differ from public schools, which in turn vary from country to country, this is a general outline of where your application will be traveling and why you shouldn’t be freaking out.
Your application will go first to your regional admissions officer. This officer will read over your application before presenting to an admissions team, consisting of a dean or vice president of admissions, managers, assistant directors, admission officers, and other staff.
1) Admissions officers
Many admissions officers are teachers, counselors, or alumni. They’re normal people!
Admissions officers often go through about 30-40 applicants a day. In other words, they’re going to become bored! They go through hundreds and hundreds of these things in a year, and while they normally sift through applications from their region, they also sometimes review applications from overburdened regions
They look through your grades, extracurriculars, essays, and demographic background.
In general, because officers are assigned to a region, it isn’t a bad idea to start a conversation with one if he or she visits your school. These people go through an insane amount of transcripts, personal statements, and boring sludge. It’ll work in your favor if they can match your application to your face—especially if you made a positive impact on them.
Here’s an interesting look into the admissions process from the viewpoint of a few admissions officers.
Interviews are conducted in the fall and are often conducted by alumni. They’ll be familiar with your application, and they are oftentimes alumni…they can even members of the admissions committee in some cases! Your interviewer’s thoughts about you will become yet another part of your application. (Keep an eye out for an upcoming post on how to rock that interview!)
3) Application committee
Applications also go to admissions committees. Again, the process here varies from school to school, but generally, admissions officers present disputable applicants to the committee, which votes whether to deny, accept, or waitlist an individual. This prevents one individual’s bias from completely impacting a decision.
In a committee, admissions officers often advocate for their favorite applicants, and the group discusses individual cases at depth, exploring all facets of a student’s application.
In fact, admission officers often discuss individual cases at length, delving deep into a student’s educational and personal background and exploring the traits that set him or her apart. Sometimes, schools will read your application before they receive all the necessary materials—like teacher recommendations. In this case, they may re-evaluate your application and decision later.
Sometimes, multiple readers comb through a file. Sometimes, only one. Again, this depends on the school!
Try watching this very enlightening video on the whole admissions committee experience–at Amherst University in particular.
And here is another great video about the entire admissions process in general– this one from Brandeis University. This one talks about both the admissions officers themselves and the admissions committee. Very interesting, actually.
It’s heartening to see that all the work you’re doing isn’t just going to some heartless machine. Real people are reading these. What goes on behind doors in the world of college admissions doesn’t have to be so scary!
Good luck on your college applications, seniors! If you’re feeling stressed, watch this amazing video of the most daring French bulldog in the world leaping off a couch into his loyal human’s arms.
If he can make that leap of faith, you can submit a college app.
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About Maddi Lee
Maddi is currently a high school junior in southern California. She is an avid freelance writer and has been featured in multiple literary publications and anthologies. When she isn't writing, she loves traveling, doodling, and most of all, sleeping. Through her own experience and passion, she hopes to help guide fellow students through the roller coaster that is SAT and college admissions...that is, as long as she survives the journey herself!
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