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The Savvy Applicant Blog

College Admissions: Your Chances of Getting into College (Part III)

Getting Into College part 3Understanding your chances of getting into college can be maddeningly difficult. We can all read the statistics and understand it is very competitive, but you are an actual person and not a statistic. You are trying to decipher what your chances are. 

The fact that Harvard, and others like it, had 40,000 applications and admitted 2,000 students has little meaning for individual applicants. However, it’s not just the Ivy League. The same sort of misunderstanding routinely happens in relation to colleges with higher admission rates as well. To some extent, it is natural to be nervous when applying to college, but limited transparency about what goes on in the admissions office can create a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Remember that most selective colleges use a holistic review process that considers 11 separate, but interrelated criteria. I wrote about the first 4 foundational aspects in Part I, Part II began to delineate the next 7 areas that significantly differentiate college applicants, and here we will take a look at the final pieces.

 

8. Admission Interviews

College interviews can be an opportunity to make those college applications shine. Typically, interviews are with an alumnus in your region after your application has been submitted, or on campus with a member of the college’s admission staff prior to applying. The interviewers (who can vary widely in quality) will write a detailed report that, at its best, acts as another letter of recommendation. You want it to add a layer of depth that is not necessarily present in the rest of the application.

The flip side, however, is that their report can also contradict parts of your application. A good interview is more like a natural conversation than a question and answer session, but you want to be prepared to articulate well thought out responses to common questions that will come up in one form or another. You also want to use the interview as an opportunity to learn inside info about the college itself. There are some things you just can’t learn from the website

 

9. Demonstrated Interest to Attend

While having an on-campus interview is often part of a good campus visit, taking the time to make that visit shows a college that you are a serious applicant. We all have limited time, but if you are within reasonable driving distance and choose not to visit, colleges have to wonder how interested you actually are.

Most of all however, the timing of your application indicates your level of interest. Admission rates for students applying to a college Early Decision, a binding contract that requires you to attend that college if admitted, are significantly higher at many colleges precisely because they don’t have to guess. Think hard about your choices and understand the merits and consequences of applying Early Decision or Single-Choice Early Action before signing on the dotted line.

 

10. Socioeconomic Background

Often discussed in the news, the bottom line is that diversity of every kind amongst a student body is important for the educational experience of all students. Colleges are interested in a campus community that has students from all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, plus varying levels of parental education and wealth. They also want students hailing from every state in the nation (some are still searching for that special student from South Dakota) and as many countries as possible. Of course, colleges need to be students interested in chemistry as well as philosophy and the list goes on. Obviously, certain aspects of yourself are not going to change, but never forget you always control the story you tell and how you tell it.

 

11. VIP Status

Finally, while few of us are celebrities, or going to donate 2 million bucks toward a new building on campus, colleges often treat their recruited athletes as VIPs. Consider the fact that many of the best colleges in the country have 30 Varsity sports teams and generally do not like to lose to their rivals!

Learn more about college admissions by reading part I, and part II of this informational blog, or schedule an appointment to speak with a college admissions counselor after you take our college admission calculator!

 

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