American University - 9/23/14

These notes were taken by Sheila Souder, Drake Counselor, as she sat in on this session:

Christopher Zissi, Asst Director of Admissions, American U

3 years, Boston  U, Emerson, Northeastern


How do we start our search?


Academics:  what do you think you want to study, what do you hate now, start talking w/ counselors about things that interest you.


Internships:  we are a top school for that.  Think about opportunities for career development as a student.  What % of students are interning.  88% at AU participate in 1-4 internships before they graduate.  Not in freshman year, as you don't know yet what you are talking yet and are not yet established.  Soph year, AU students start.  Think about where your opportunities are?  Do you want to study abroad? 


Knew he wanted Australia.  Does your school have that, AU has 150 study abroad programs.  A lot of flexibility - Cuba in the fall, China in the spring


Graduation rate:  nat'l avg is about 55%, but for privates in mid to high 70's.  AU has some 3 year programs


Don't let location drive your search.  Let academics and opportunities drive your search.  Not just weather.


Student faculty ratio.  AU is considered medium - 6800 students.  If you want small, round table discussion program or large lecture hall - think about it


We come out in fall.  WE WANT TO SEE YOU.  Take advantage of the schools.  Online chats.  Today i came and met w 5 students at Drake.  Some for 2nd time.  thats's what we want to see.  We want high yield percentage, 18000 apply, we take 1600.  We are looking at fit, we saw you at jr night, saw you at the visit, now here you are applying.  Be clearly interested.  Do interview.  Do visit.  9 times out of 10 we will take the students who have demonstrated keen interest over the student with the highest gpa who did not express interest


You can't just mail it in!!  Can't stress it enough.  Coming tonight is great first step.  Come to the visit next year.


Rankings: every book/newspaper has one.  AU 76th


What is the best approach?


What type of documents are required?

Far more than UC/CSU

We need personal statement, 2 letters of rec from academic teacher, one counselor recommendation.  The counselor is the person who is going to be the person who is talking you up.  You need to get to know them.  We build a relationship with your counselor - so should you.  By not going in, if they don't have anything to write about, counselor can't advocate for  you.


Transcript - we are GRADE HEAVY.  we need to see that you can perform at a high level.  We are looking at what rigor is offered here  and what you have taken advantage of.  Don't take AP to take it - take what is appropriate for you.  What matters most is that you are performing at a high level


How many took PSAT?  About 4 in this group A lot of schools are bucking trend and going test optional.  Negatives: there aren't any.

Benefits: challenging courses, doing well, have a job, cmmty service, athletics.  Stellar amazing resume, but your testing is just okay.  Some of you have spent summer prepping for exams.  Whole point of test optional is that we don't want to limit you to the score


3.65 - 4.05 gpa

1210 - 1380 SAT - critical reading and math only


Remove the test scores, and all the rest shines.  No negative to doing it. 


If not indicative of the type of student you are, don't have to send it.


Common App - about 90% of schools you apply to - privates. 

A lot of specific supplemental essays that are very specific Look at that fit, what do you know about AU.  Don't just talk about Washington (could be GW, G'town, AU).  More interest you show, better.  It's like dating someone.  Show an interest.  Very simple


How do we review an applicant?


Have to think NOW about your curriculum

We look at you holistically

No minimum gpa or sat

A lot of schools don't print that info because they look at things beyond that I'm a great writer, these are my dreams, math is not my thing



sports year round, how much of other things do you expect?  Does anyone know what a WONK is?  a WONK is someone who knows something forwards and backwards.  AU wants you to be an expert in one field of study, be a WONK.  We want to see you not spread thin in a bunch of areas.  A three sport athlete - great.  Job 4 years - great.  Don't want one year of this club, 2 years of that, and 6 months of something else.  Commit to something - demonstrate you know yourself  - have some consistency.


Who are you? 


AU - supplemental - Why do you want to go here?  not Washington, but American.

Comic book WONK at his high school.  Wonk Wonk, did somebody honk at me?  Then talked about his experience.


Essay - there can be no mistakes.  We know you have a bunch of people helping you.  Simple mistakes can sink you.  We will not tolerate that at all.  Being a strong writer is going to help you.


Some of the clubs and organizations are very west coast.  Can't assume i know what JSA or Amigos is.  Give us an idea of what it is.  Talk about life changing experience - if it centers on who you are now.  Don't neglect what is going on in your own back yard.  Dedicated to impact in own community and the world.


Did the game winning goal change your life?  Seems small townish.  Think about something more specific to you.  Mom & Dad are great - that's an essay from the past. 


You have a full year to develop these essays. 


Text talk is NOT for the college application. 


When you go through this process, never ask the cost.  That can't be how you work through this.  $56k to attend.  Not even in the top 50 in terms of cost.  Some have loan free programs - full work study and grants.  Research those schools.  100% of student need - see who offers that.  We do a lot of grants, scholarships, work study.  Price changes as you go through the process.



Sheila Souder, Counselor

Sent from my iPad


Additional notes from 9/23/14

Housing guaranteed for first 2 years, 15% Greek life

How will you improve the campus and participate? Want to know this in your application

You can double major across colleges

7200 undergrads, research institution, student-centered, internship opportunities are many, get admitted to university not to a major

Most popular majors are political science and public relations

test optional 

campus is in D.C. but not downtown, have a campus, easy to get downtown 

Recent acceptance rates: ED 82%, RD 34%

Living learning communities, 3 year scholars program, Honors Program