The best way to really help students going through the college applications right now is to help answer any specific questions they might have. And who better to ask than college students who have just been through the process themselves?
University of Pennsylvania, has taken the time to answer a few submissions by high school seniors.
Q1: I know we should create a narrative in our application. But how are we supposed to fit eighteen years into a one-faceted story?
A1: I don’t think you necessarily need to weave all eighteen years of your life into the narrative of your common app essay. What you should be doing is identifying one key experience or memory that you have that you believe has crucially defined your character. No matter how trivial that piece of your life might initially seem to an outsider, I think what makes a strong essay is being able to explain the essential moments that made you the person you are today. For instance, I know someone that wrote about the conversations she had with her mom on the drive home after school, which seems pretty simple but on paper can paint a really sentimental and meaningful picture to whoever is reading the essay.
Q2: Besides the obvious, is there anything I can do or say wrong in my college interview?
A2: Overall, in interviews you want to show genuine interest in the school. I would stay away from bringing up other schools you are applying to in detail, but if that topic for some reason comes up I would suggest somehow making it clear that you prioritize the college you are interviewing for.
Q3: I got an 800 in SAT II math (subject tests) and 790 in SAT subject English. I know the University of California doesn’t require subject SAT tests. As these are good scores I would like to submit them but I don’t want to annoy the application reader! What should I do?
A3: I don’t think you could possibly annoy the person reading your application by displaying fantastic test scores. Looking for top candidates is the job of college admissions officers, and adding some glowing test scores can only help you in that department. To further persuade you, remember that they are just two three-digit numbers to look at, not an entire extra essay to review!
Q4: Should I apply to colleges if my test scores or grades are below their published ranges?
A4: Absolutely! If you truly like a certain school, you shouldn’t be the one preventing yourself from even having a shot at being accepted. I, personally, have heard of many instances of students within my own university that were admitted even though they were on the lower end of the average test score spectrum. Remember that college applications are meant to be viewed holistically; your essays and extracurricular activities can really boost your application if they convey a high level of passion and dedication. Granted, there is no guarantee that admissions will accept you or even the person with the maximum score on the SATs, but at least you can say that you tried as long as you applied. Otherwise, you might always wonder what could have happened.
Want to know more about how GoQuakers got accepted to UPenn? You can view her full profile, including test scores, extracurriculars, essays and more advice! For more, search AdmitSee’s database of successful application files.
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About Frances Wong
A math major turned growth hacker, Frances has worked in PR and marketing in Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco. AdmitSee is her third edtech startup, coming from Course Hero and Purpella. Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. Fun Fact: Frances was a certified and licensed EMT during her time at Georgetown.
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