There’s a piece up on “NPR” by Kirk Carapezza entitled “What The People Who Read Your College Application Really Think” that we wanted to bring to the attention of our readers. The piece is set in the admissions office of the College of the Holly Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts but the scene Carapezza describes could very well be set at just about any selective or highly selective college in America. After all, the review process is fairly similar — with of course some variations — at most of these schools.
As Carapezza writes, “Inside a tiny conference room at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., the admissions committee is preparing to review 23 applications. The committee members will spend about two minutes on each before deciding whether to accept or deny admission or place the application on hold. To speed things along, the committee members use a lot of jargon, like ‘L-B-B’ for late blooming boy, and ‘R-J’ for rejection. If it sounds like they are cutting corners, know that before the committee meets around the table, each application gets a close look from two of the members. Then it’s condensed into a single one-page profile. The one for this student says he comes off just a bit arrogant in his essay and interview.”
Allow us to zero in on that last comment, one on arrogance. As we’ve been writing for years, coming across as arrogant in highly selective college admissions is a key reason why many applicants don’t earn admission. The admissions process is a human process. Your objective as an applicant is to inspire admissions officers to root for you, to want to go to bat for you. To do so, you want to come across as likable. So many applicants fail to do just that. In fact, in mid-December, when folks who didn’t work with us first come to us seeking help because their children — much to their astonishment — didn’t earn admission in the Regular Decision round, they tend to describe their children in the first few minutes of speaking with us. And we can usually glean a whole lot from that description because it’s likely how the student portrayed himself or herself in the application (e.g., in the essays, alumni interview, activities, etc.). It can be a leading reason why the student didn’t get in, much to the astonishment of his or her parents.
Take a look at the pice in “NPR” as it paints a very accurate behind-the-scenes portrait of not only the admissions process at the College of the Holy Cross but at the vast majority of selective and highly selective colleges.