Applications to our nation’s elite universities are up, up, and away this year! According to an article in today’s The New York Times by Karen Arenson entitled “Applications to U.S. colleges are breaking records,” “Applications to selective colleges and universities are reaching new heights this year, promising another season of high rejection rates and dashed hopes for many more students. Harvard said Wednesday that it had received a record number of applicants — 27,278 — for its next freshman class, a 19 percent increase over last year. Other campuses reporting double-digit increases included the University of Chicago (18 percent), Amherst College (17 percent), Northwestern University (14 percent) and Dartmouth (10 percent)…Princeton received a record 20,118 applicants, up 6 percent.”
So, in light of the increased applications, can admissions counselors actually read through them all? All too often, we hear from a parent who is convinced that with the sheer volume of applications, there is no possible way that admissions counselors read through every application, but we would say that in 90% of cases, they sure do. Last February, when an admissions counselor from Duke University wrote in an acceptance letter (two months earlier than usual) to one of Ivy Coach’s students that she was very impressed with how the student combined his passion for music with his dedication to community service, it was obvious that Duke looked beyond the student’s less than stellar grades and SAT scores and read his application thoroughly. In four separate essays, without being too boastful or too shy, the student wrote about different aspects of his life, exhibiting his true passions. In a tightly woven fabric, with threads from each of his essays, he gave Duke’s admissions counselors a glimpse into his life through his exceptional application.
While grades, courses, and standardized test scores are always going to be significant factors in the admissions process, the other parts of the application (e.g., the essays, activity sheet, letters of recommendation, the interview, etc.) can sometimes make all the difference between an acceptance and a denial. So in writing those essays, put in your best effort and absolutely do count on them being read.
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