Four Things You Never Knew About College Admissions

The college admissions process has become increasingly mysterious over the years. Why are debate champions with 2400s getting rejected? How come some kids get into Harvard, but not into big state schools with higher acceptance rates? What’s the deal?

Well, I’m here to fill you in on the info you won’t learn from college counselors, admissions representatives and information sessions.


High test scores are a requirement but they WON’T get you in

Colleges don’t care about that high SAT score if you’re failing all your classes. While you do need to get a good score to even be considered by many of the most selective schools, you can’t rely on the score to carry you through. Your GPA is a more realistic indicator of what kind of student you are, and therefore, whether or not you will succeed academically in college.


Forget being well rounded

Admissions officers always say it’s good to be well rounded, but you can’t be a star athlete, award-winning artist, and student body president all at the same time. I mean, I guess you could try, but you wouldn’t really be able to excel at art, sports, and student government simultaneously because you simply wouldn’t have enough time.

Instead, pick a specialty (or maybe two) and try to focus all of your energy on that skill. You’ll be able to do a better job and therefore achieve more. Colleges will be impressed by actual accomplishments, not a list of 100 meaningless extracurricular activities. Aim for quality over quantity.


Colleges reject over-qualified students

Sometimes, admissions officers can tell that their college is an applicant’s safety school. They know that the student is unlikely to actually attend the school if admitted, since it is more of a back-up choice. Colleges want to build the next class by accepting people who they believe will come to their school, so they will reject kids that will clearly end up going somewhere else. Hence, the state school reject who gets accepted at Harvard.


Colleges have to make random choices

This past year, 42,167 people applied to Stanford, while only 2,145 got in. With applicant pools that large and class sizes that small, admissions officers will eventually have to start making choices between equally qualified students. In a system like this, getting rejected isn’t any kind of reflection of you or your faults.


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  • Nadira Berman

    As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school's fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

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