EXAMINING THE APPLICANT'S FILE: SOME READING TIPS AS NOTED BY COLLEGE ADMISSION PROFESSIONALS
An admissions committee carefully examines each applicant's file to make decisions on which candidates to accept. Here are areas of the student's file considered for each section of the application as outlined by admission officers:
Is there anything about the student's background or family information that stands out in relation to the college which he/she is applying? Are there any special circumstances of which you should be aware when evaluating the more objective parts of the application? Has the student ever been suspended or received disciplinary action from his/her high school?
What kind of grades has the student received over the years? Is there a trend - an upward or downward one? Has the student taken advanced and/or challenging classes? Look at the high school profile to get a brief sketch of what is offered. Does the high school have strict prerequisites for entrance into these courses? If shown on the transcript, what kind of program does the student plan to take in the senior year - is it challenging or weak? What are the student's extra-curricular interests? If available, where does the student rank?
SAT/ACT/SAT Subject Tests
What are the student's SAT or ACT scores? Are there areas that are significantly higher or lower? How strong are the Subject Tests scores? Do they show proficiencies in specific subject areas? How do the scores fit the score ranges on the college's profile? How important do you think test scores will be in the evaluation process? Do the SAT/ACT scores correlate with the student's GPA? Is one significantly higher than the other?
What has the student done outside the classroom, both connected to school and outside of school? How much time has the student committed to those activities? How much depth is presented? Has the student pursued a leadership role in these activities?
College admission officers see the essay as one more way to gain insight into who the student is. With so many applicants who look similar in terms of grades, GPAs, and activities, the essay becomes a way for you to convey your own individuality. Look at the essay as an opportunity to be thoughtful about yourself and not something to be dreaded. An effective essay leaves readers feeling that they have gotten to know the student, and that they like what they see.
A good essay can strengthen an application to a selective school, particularly if your qualifications are already strong. Not surprisingly, a boring, poorly written, arrogant, or silly essay can hurt your chances, especially if your qualifications are borderline. But even if your record is very strong, a weak essay can spoil your chances at a college that has many strong candidates to choose from.
Johns Hopkins University posts Essays That Worked on their website so applicants can gain more information about what they consider a successful essay. Click here to learn more.
Drake graduates offer this advice regarding the college essay.
Letters of Recommendation
What two or three things have you learned about the applicant through the recommendation? What struck the teacher most about the student? How positive or enthusiastic is the recommendation? Is there more information that will help the admission committee determine how capable the student is in meeting the academic demands of the college?
High School Profile
What can the admission committee learn from the high school profile that might assist them? Does the high school profile give you information that might better help you understand the student's educational opportunities and accomplishments?