College Admissions Committee

Admissions Committee, Admission Committee, Going to Admissions Committee

Borderline applicants are often sent to committee.

In selective and highly selective college admissions, when the admissions office is on the fence about an applicant, their application is often, as they say, “brought to committee.” And today, there is a wonderful article in “The Washington Post” written by Nick Anderson entitled “The Committee: Excerpts from inside the inner sanctum of GW admissions” about the very inner workings of going to committee that we wanted to share with our loyal readers. Just as you saw in the Tina Fey and Paul Rudd starrer “Admission,” admissions officers present applicants to their fellow admissions officers at committee. And the piece in “The Washington Post” has some enlightening tidbits about students who went to committee at George Washington University. We’ll share some and give you our thoughts.

“Student ‘seems likeable and sincerely interested in GW but unfortunately also very similar to many of our applicants. Not much rigor throughout high school and taking a lighter senior year … I recommend wait list.'” That’s a pretty standard comment at committee. His teachers and guidance counselor likely gave him positive reviews, but his application isn’t special. He doesn’t stand out from the pack and he’s not taking rigorous senior year coursework, demonstrating a lack of intellectual curiosity. Did the applicant think his or her senior year coursework wouldn’t matter? They sure do!

Here’s another tidbit: “I like [student’s] consistency. His application presents slightly more outgoing than the [recommendations] give him credit for, I think. The activities are limited but focused. The ‘Why GW’ statement reinforces the focus and ambition cited in the recs. I like him, would like to see him here. Just not sure if there’s enough distinction. He’s a talented student who fits our profile. I recommend ‘possible.’” This student was able to differentiate himself a bit from the applicant pool, in spite of not having glowing letters of recommendation from his teachers and guidance counselor (and maybe an alumni interviewer). He has a shot of getting in, though his candidacy certainly isn’t perfect. Few are.

We’re going to run through some other fun tidbits from the George Washington admissions office in ensuing posts as it’s fun to hear directly from the horse’s mouth.


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