The Admissions Officers’ Point of View #1

When we consider the college admissions process from the admissions officers’ point of view we gain insight for our own applications.  A familiar insight is that admissions officers read thousands of essays, so be sure your essay’s opening sentence makes them want to keep reading!  That’s true. I’d like to share a an insight that might be a little less common place.

Application Not Applicant: I have learned that, in admissions officers’ lingo, they accept (or deny) applications, not applicants.  At first blush I thought, that ‘s just a nice way to keep their emotions in check and the process at arms length.  Kind of, putting some emotional distance between their decisions and the real live person it affects.  That may very well be true, and from an applicant’s perspective, it helps understand, at least theoretically, not to take rejection personally.  But there is another aspect that is even more valuable to a student who is putting together their application.  

Accepting applications not applicants means that the only thing the admissions officer bases a decision upon is what is written in the application file.  They don’t know you, so if you don’t tell them, they won’t know.  That means that:

  • A college application is not a place to be humble -- there is a way to let them know all you have done without sounding like a braggart. 
  • An application is not a place to assume anything – activity lists need context (You were 1st out of how many?, Just what does that club’s acronym mean?)
  • An application is a place to make use of every single word or character count allowed.  This is not the same as filling space with nothing to say.  Use the space to convey more information, use the optional essay…in fact realize that optional really means required.

Thinking from the admissions officers' point of view shapes what we include in our own application. Future blogs will share additional insights of admissions officers' perspectives.