Some time ago, I used to work with admissions officers and now I am going to debunk several misapprehensions and explain what applicants should do to get to college. There definitely is a difference between how you imagine students' applications are evaluated and what actually happens behind the scenes.

Applying for College: how Applications are Read

The image: A spectacled director of admissions with the beard and gray hair sits in his posh office and unhurriedly reads students' applications. He experiences different emotions while reading all those papers, stamping ADMIT on some folders.

The reality: A hurried officer sits in the car, sipping coffee and rushes to read all those applications between appointments. Each material gets just a few minutes of his/her time.

What you can do: When applying for college, ensure you have presented all the material in an easy-to-understand manner.

Activities are Important too

The image: Admissions officers do not look at anything except essays, so you should not work hard to fill in the activities section when applying for college.

The reality: The activities section in most cases is as important as the essays are.

What you can do: It does not matter whether you participated in many activities or in few, you should think how to tell about them in the best way. One of the college application tips: do not just describe what position you held, but also what your responsibilities were.

When Majors Matter

The image: It does not matter what major you select, but select one if you are asked to.

The reality: Some universities ask students to indicate their majors in the applications, and if you pick biology or economics, the admissions officer will evaluate your material differently based on your choice. You will be expected to show strong grades in preferred courses.

What you can do: The admissions officer will be looking for proof of your intellectual curiosity that is related to your stated majors. For example, you may have an assignment to write an additional essay where you can highlight your interest in the subject.

You will have more chances for success if you:

  • Realize what the difference between the image and the reality is.
  • Represent yourself clearly.
  • Facilitate the admissions officers' job.

You need to be patient and self-confident. Believe in yourself and you will get through this process.

September 20, 2016