Admissions 101

Admissions 101

Happy 4th of July! We’re planning to celebrate the Birth of Our Nation today with some river floating and BBQ, but before we take off I wanted to share a couple tips about college and prep school admissions.

Here are three things to keep in mind as you apply to either college or prep school:

  • Do the numbers. Test scores are important, as they are often the first thing admissions personnel look at to decide whether or not you’ll make it at their school. That said, find out what the median SAT and ACT scores for your target schools are (the College Board’s tool is fantastic for this) and set goals. Don’t be afraid to take the test twice or more to achieve these goals and gain access to the next step in admissions.
  • Embrace quirkiness. Colleges and prep schools love diversity. They want to admit the quirkiest, most interesting students possible. If you love comic books, submit a sample storyline with your application. If you play the marimbas (see below), be sure to point that out in your extracurricular activities. I had a student a few years ago that sent in a 3′ x 3′ diorama illustrating her bedroom with her application to Bates. Guess what? She got in.
  • Be sincere. When drafting your personal essay, your biggest goal shouldn’t be to sound super smart or wow admissions with zany stories. It should be–simply put–to be yourself. My friend Bowen, an admissions officer for Yale, told me recently that the best essay he read last year was about a rock. Sounds boring, right? But Bowen said the student talked about the rock in such a way that by the end of the essay, Bowen felt like he knew her–and liked her! That’s what a successful admissions essay does.

Hope this is enough to get the juices flowing. But if you need more guidance–about choosing a test, prepping for a test, or drafting that stellar application essay–give give us a holler. In the meantime, check out Ben’s (former SSAT student, current SAT/ACT student at Catlin Gabel) mad marimba skills below.

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