Hello, 007. We’ve got a spy mission for you today: infiltrate a
college admission office. You will need to disguise yourself as an
admission officer and pull off the act. Can you handle this mission?
First of all, you've got to convincingly dress the part:
- A casual but chic outfit
- Polished hair
- Sleepy eyes from reading all of those applications
Also, to blend in, be sure to come prepared with:
- Coffee (admission officers have gotten very little sleep in the past few weeks)
- Sticky notes, highlighters, and colored pens (for taking notes on applicants)
- Snacks (you might be here for a while)
Once inside, remain cool, calm, and collected. Make small talk about
how you haven’t seen the sunshine in a long time because you've been
trapped in your office reading applications. Sit down with all of your
"colleagues" around a table and get ready to experience your front-row
seats to a college admission committee.
What should you expect?
- A long day
- A ton of details about students
- Lengthy conversations about applicants
- Excitement, sadness, joy, empathy, frustration, annoyance, anger, and every emotion in between
Many colleges use the admission committee system to select students
for their freshman class. After reading their chunks of applications
(hundreds or even thousands), admission officers will gather and each
"present" the applications they’ve evaluated. The admission officer
becomes a kind of advocate of the students whose applications they’ve
read. As a group, they will then vote on the student. Be prepared to
cast your vote: admit, waitlist, or deny. It's a very democratic system,
if you ask us.
This committee process is the final step in the admission evaluation
process. You'll notice that the admission officers around you are
generally exhausted (thus the coffee and sleepy eyes), excited, and
thrilled to build a new class to join their campus. It’s kind of like
when you stayed up all night to finish building a science fair project
and realized, just as the sun was coming up, that the project was going
to be a huge hit.
We all get caught up in trying to figure out what a committee wants
to see and hear. Sometimes, we imagine officers of superhuman size in
blazers and khaki pants, sipping on tea and twirling their mustaches.
But, in fact, the committee is not at all like that. Shocking.
During your admission office infiltration mission, you've gathered some notes on admission officers:
10 Truths About Admission Officers
- Admission officers are looking for reasons to admit you, not
deny you. They are rooting for you. Things like careless spelling
mistakes or mentioning the wrong college in your essay will break their
- Admission officers often have to read thousands of applications;
it’s a hard job. Sometimes they don’t see daylight for weeks on end.
- An admission committee’s goal is to find the right students for the
college it represents. It's like speed dating, and they want to make
sure the fit between you and the college is right. They aren’t just
looking for the valedictorians or the students who win all of the
- Admission officers want to see the full picture of who you are, not just the grades and the scores.
- Admission officers love context. They want to hear all about your
context. Context is: Anything about your family or living situation. Do
you have a job outside of school? Do you have a learning difference or
physical disability? Really, any personal information you want to share.
- Admission officers reading your application will most likely
be familiar with the high school that you go to. They will know things
like how many AP/Honors classes your school offers, how big your school
is, and how many graduates from your school go on to 2-year or 4-year
colleges every year.
- Admission officers want to hear your unique voice, not the perfectly polished sound of a parent, teacher, or counselor.
- Good grades and good high schools tell them that you have lots of
academic potential, which is important. But they also want to find out:
Do you love to learn? If so, what specifically do you love to learn?
What is your perspective on the world around you and how it works? Are
you motivated and hardworking?
- A rejection does not mean that the admission committee doesn’t like you. In this crazy age we live in, there are often way
more applicants than there are spots in the class. Don’t take rejection
personally. It just means that the fit isn’t right at the moment. A
door is opening for you somewhere else.
- A waitlist means that they like you and what you are doing; keep up the good work. Take it as a compliment.