Monday, January 29, 2018
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I have been wait-listed for admission to a number of Ivy League colleges. I have a near perfect academic record and my application included several persuasive essays, an extensive list of extracurricular activities (I interned for a congressman last summer), and outstanding recommendations.
What does it take to get admitted to a top school?
The straight answer is that it is difficult to know why, in any given year, a seemingly qualified student is admitted while another similarly qualified student is waitlisted or even rejected. We do have a general idea of what top colleges and universities are looking for in a candidate:
• Top grades and test scores.
• At least one or two very interesting extracurricular activities — either school-based or community service projects. This does not include expensive programs paid for by wealthy parents who send their children off to work with the poor in underdeveloped countries for three weeks.
• Parents who are alumni — legacy status still counts in the Ivies.
• The student is a member of a demographic group that fulfills diversity requirements (these students are not necessarily easy to find given the current need to expand gender representation in science and engineering).
• Geographic diversity limits.
There other intangibles that need to be in place for you to have a realistic chance of admission to a top school. Here's what colleges are looking for:
• Candidates who are likely to provide financial support to the university after they graduate. Donations from alumni parents come into play here. If parents have been faithful supporters of their alma mater, it is likely that their progeny will do the same. I should caution you that legacy status will not make up for a mediocre academic record.
• Students who show potential to become undergraduate and graduate superstars whose studies will help to bring in grants and federal funding to the university have a leg up when it comes to admission. Grants and federal funding are the lifeblood of colleges and universities.
• Students who have a career path in mind and whose high school academic records and extracurricular activity participation support those aspirations.
I tell my clients not to pin their college dreams only on the Ivies. Not only do many state and smaller private schools provide an education that in many cases rivals that to be had in the Ivies, but there is evidence that these schools also rank highly with private-sector recruitment professionals who are looking for entry-level talent.
Tags: Colleges SAT Preparation
Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting in Crown Point.
Colleges, College Consulting, International Students
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