Writing your college essays can be either a drudge or a wonderful time of self reflection and creativity. Understanding what colleges are looking for is the key to your selection of topics, and the way to figure that out is two-fold – first, know yourself and what you are looking for and second, know the mission and ethos of the colleges and what kind of applicant they are seeking to join their campus community.
Looks like Spring has sprung in the midst of the pandemic, encouraging all of us to get out of our homes in a socially distanced way! I trust you and your loved ones are well and that you are keeping your head above water in light of the torrent of admissions news that comes daily. Your May issue includes timely articles:
April offers articles on:
Over the past few years, many colleges and universities have received huge in- creases in their volume of first-time, first- year applications. There has also been a sharp rise in the number of students choosing to apply early. As a result of these patterns, admit rates have dropped, some classes have increased in size, and residence halls are groaning under the weight of so many students! From the norm of singles and doubles has arisen the norm of triples, and even quads – chal- lenging for young people who have grown up with their own room. Some universities are even having to convert lounges into bedrooms.
For many families, the college tour is a rite of passage. These visits are often deter- mined by an applicant’s school schedule, parent availability, financial resources, and family commitments. Colleges offer a wide variety of visit options – Open Houses, Diversity Days, Group Information Ses- sions and Campus Tours. Given these many opportunities, we’ll zero in on one particular visit option, the one that you take advantage of during the school year.
College interviews come in several different formats. Most are ‘informational’, some are ‘recommended’ and others may be ‘evaluative’. We will touch upon each one in turn, but first, it’s important to understand why colleges offer the option of an interview. Several Ivy League colleges recommend an interview, but you should read ‘recommended’ as ‘required’. Colleges want to enroll students who will enhance their campus community, bring new ideas and generate new knowledge. They want to admit young people who will engage in the college life, be a good roommate, and show themselves as both mature and ready to take on the advanced rigor of a college classroom. Interviews are also wonderful opportunities for you to ask your questions. Think of the interview as a two-way conversation - Stanford calls it a ‘two-way exchange’ – it’s not just the college wanting to ask you important questions, but it’s also about you finding out as much as you can about your colleges so you can make an informed decision.
In today’s wild world of power and politics, there are two very successful women who stand out – Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. Without making any comment on their collective political lives, what they do share is the fact that they each graduated from a women’s college. Ms. Pelosi gradu- ated from Trinity College, a Roman Catholic college for women, in 1962, and Ms. Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969. At the time Hillary entered Wellesley, the Ivy League colleges were not yet admitting women, and she thus stood at the forefront of women seeking higher education and a career. Nancy graduated from Trinity and soon after, chose to start her family and support her husband and children. Fortunately, women today have far more options – higher education, career, family – and colleges and universities are all open to women.
In June 2018, the University of Chicago made an announcement on Twitter that set off shock waves within the world of college admissions. The Washington Post called it a “watershed, cracking what had been a solid and enduring wall of support for the primary admission tests among the two dozen most prestigious research universities.” The University released a statement indicating that they would no longer require applicants to submit any standardized test scores.