When crafting college applications and college essays, a student’s audience is college admissions counselors. When you watch “Modern Family” on ABC, the target audience is adults 18-49. That’s the key demographic for advertisers. You’re not going to see ads for prune juice during the baby show “Yo Gabba Gabba!” It just wouldn’t make sense. In college admissions, it’s important to keep your audience in mind when you make statements in activity essays, personal statements, or supplemental essays.
Does this mean that you should write what you think admissions counselors want to hear? Absolutely not! You should be truthful. You should dare to be different. But knowing who is reading and evaluating your college application really can’t hurt and can only help. So we’re going to try to give you a little overview of college admissions counselors in the hope that it’ll give you a better understanding of the person on the other side of the college admissions process at Ivy League colleges.
College admissions counselors at Ivy League colleges tend to have a passion for higher education. Why else would they take jobs that aren’t exactly the highest paying and happen to be quite a bit of work? Politically, they also tend to be liberal…though you will rarely be discriminated against should you write a conservative-leaning essay (since college admissions counselors value diversity above just about all else).
Many of the junior members of the team (aka Assistant Directors of Admission) are fresh out of college. A good portion of them attended the very school that they’re now working at. After all, who could sell a school better to prospective students than an alum who loved attending that school? Many college admissions counselors as you move your way up the ladder have worked at a variety of schools. Typically, admissions counselors have to move around a bit in order to get to that next coveted level.
So, basically, knowing your audience can never hurt! Does that mean you should adjust what you would write so they will like it better? No. You should absolutely not write what you think admissions counselors will want to read. But just as the writer of “High School Musical” will try to get into the headspace of a teenager, it couldn’t hurt to read your essay after it’s written from the point of view of a college admissions counselor to see what they’d think about it.