November 2006 Newsletter
The best predictors of academic success in college, is academic success in high school. When college admissions counselors are reviewing applications they are evaluating the following criteria as most significant in deciding the fate of their applicants:
- Grade Point Average (g.p.a.)
- Intensity of courses (Advanced Placement, Honors)
- Class rank
- SAT / ACT scores
- Competitiveness of the high school.
Valedictorians with scores of 2400 on the SAT & two or three scores of 800’s on Subject Tests may not be good enough…
Too often these students feel that they have achieved a sense of entitlement, and after admissions counselors at highly selective colleges read their applications, these candidates often come off flat, sometimes sounding pompous and arrogant.
So…Who Makes the Case?
For over the past decade, college admission counselors at the highly selective colleges have been telling high achieving applicants, that they’re just not good enough. So what is it that these most prestigious colleges are looking for when they admit their applicants? The Dean of Admissions at Dartmouth College offers a hint in his annual report to secondary schools. While Dartmouth seeks academically accomplished students for its incoming freshman classes, “excellence in extracurricular areas also receives careful attention. We look for evidence of accomplishment as well as the depth of commitment and follow-through that lead to significant contributions and recognition from others.” In essence, Dartmouth College is seeking to form a well-rounded class of individuals who together represent a diversity of talents, interests, and experiences.
Talented students are those students who have worked at developing skills in one specific area. These students may be talented in athletics, fine arts, leadership, or the performing arts (music, theater, or dance), or they may be poets, journalists, computer wizards, or math or science researchers.
Other students who have an edge in the admissions process are:
An applicant who is the son or daughter of an alumnus may stand a better chance of being admitted to his/her parent’s alma mater than another applicant whose grade point average, class rank and SAT’s are equal or higher. For Bowdoin College’s Class of 2010, for example, 51% of legacies were admitted while the overall admission rate was only 22%.
An applicant whose family has built a library or has pledged an endowment at a college is considered a development case. An applicant who is tagged as a development case can be most attractive to a college because the contribution allows the college to deploy funds to areas the administration considers to be their priorities. With only respectable grades and SAT scores, this student will most likely be admitted.
An applicant who is a celebrity, or the child of a celebrity, is considered a “special interest case,” and will most likely be accepted at the college of his/her choice. (Ivy Coach was interviewed about this very subject on Fox News.)
Students who are ethnically, economically or geographically different from the general population of the college are viewed as diverse and will have an advantage in the admissions process.
When students don’t fit into any specific category, how do they get accepted?
Through high school transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, activity sheets and personal interviews, students who have demonstrated intellectual curiosity, personal initiative, and those who have made an impact on their school and community will have a much greater advantage in the admissions process. Students need to be who they are, but to work at making a difference!