How to Stand Out Inside the Admissions Office

Inside the Admissions Office

How to Stand Out Inside the Admissions Office

Ever wondered what goes on inside the admissions office as applications are processed? I've spoken to several admissions officers from Ivy-caliber institutions and wanted to share some insights on the process.

The Process

  1. Admissions officers usually begin their review of an application with the candidate’s transcript and standardized exams. The first glance is to ensure your GPA and test scores are competitive given the applicant pool. Then the rigor of your academic schedule and how it equips you for university study will be evaluated. Because admission offers are so competitive, no one earns a place at a top school just based off their GPA and test scores. Instead, admissions officers examine a candidate’s academic record to ensure they can adequately perform university work, cutting those that fall below the threshold.
  2. Admissions officers will next determine your ability to contribute to the university community. Many will spend just 30 seconds skimming your CV and the first paragraph of your PS to size up your candidacy. They are looking for demonstrated commitment to your extracurricular activities and leadership potential. Unless a candidate has hooked the committee, the application may be rejected at this stage. For compelling candidates, the entire personal statement and recommendations will be considered.
  3. Many universities are now requiring an interview with a local affiliate organization or an alumnus. International applicants will be evaluated based on their communication skills and probable fit with the campus culture. The interview can be the difference between an acceptance and rejection for candidates on the margin.

The Daunting Challenges

  1. Admissions are ruthlessly competitive. Many of the top programs accept fewer than 10% of applicants. It’s especially difficult to earn admission as an international student because there are so many strong applicants. Competition is fierce – each student has worked hard to receive excellent grades and test scores but many applications simply blend together for admissions officers.
  2. Because the number of quality candidates is so large, admissions officers quickly filter applications. As mentioned, the CV you spent four years building will be skimmed in just 30 seconds and the personal statement you tweaked for weeks could be dismissed after just a paragraph.

Stand Out!

  1. Your personal statement needs to hook the reader in the first paragraph. Be creative, thought provoking, daring, and memorable. A remarkable opening and interesting theme ensures that a reader engages with the entire statement, giving you a much better opportunity to earn a champion to endorse your acceptance.
  2. Your CV needs to quickly demonstrate your past contributions and impact. Admissions officers are aiming to invest in candidates that will add to the campus community. A CV that showcases commitment to an extracurriculars, leadership potential and an eagerness to get engaged will give you much better odds.
  3. Your recommendation letters should speak to your academic abilities, intellectual interests, contributions to class, and character traits. Investing the time to build close professional relationships with your teachers is a phenomenal investment that will yield wisdom and much stronger rec letters that will help you to stand out.

An insider glimpse into the world of selective admissions can be intimidating at first. But now that you have insights into the process and challenges you are better able to formulate a winning strategy. Get started today!


Greg Nance

ChaseFuture CEO