Jobs Are a Good Thing in College Admissions

Jobs in Admissions, Jobs in College Admission, Jobs in Ivy League Admission
Penn’s Dean of Admissions Eric Furda values applicants who work through high school (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

There are many reasons why our students at Ivy Coach so often earn admission to their dream schools. They participate in exciting activities. They showcase singular talents rather than well-roundedness. They tell their stories in compelling ways. They take the most challenging coursework at their schools — and often go above and beyond their curriculums. But they’re also not fancy-schmancy.

Don’t Present Yourself as Fancy-Schmancy in Your Application

But, Ivy Coach, what do you mean by they’re not fancy-schmancy? We mean they don’t do summer programs at elite universities that cost their parents a whole lot of coins. They don’t write essays about golf. They don’t write essays that detail their extensive travel. They don’t do community service projects in faraway lands. You see, when admissions officers come across these kinds of activities, they’re inclined to gag. Admissions officers, after all, don’t make a whole lot of coins and so they’re unlikely to root for students who flaunt their wealth — even if they don’t intend to — on their college applications.

If You Worked Through High School, Do Tell!

Eric Furda, the University of Pennsylvania’s longtime Dean of Admissions said it best in a recent missive that he posted on Penn’s site: ” We know that many of our applicants have valuable experience with full or part-time employment during the summers or school year, but that sometimes students don’t feel like a job truly qualifies as an ‘activity.’ More broadly, we know that students hold a variety of commitments within their families, schools, neighborhoods and communities, all of which take time and energy, and all of which are important. Instead of narrowly defining what constitutes an ‘activity,’ we celebrate the variety of lived experiences students bring with them to campus.” Amen, Dean Furda. Amen.

Jobs Can Make Applicants More Likable

Admissions officers will champion an applicant who has to hold a job in order to help support her family — whether that job is at a local fast food chain, a clothing shop, or anything and everything in between. Avoid being fancy-schmancy. Jobs aren’t fancy-schmancy. Unless, of course, that job is at Morgan Stanley. And when they see that dad also happens to work at Morgan Stanley, yes, admissions officers will know just how you got that gig and, no, it’s not going to help your case for admission. Show your own initiative!


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