Dyad Academy > ADMISSIONS INSIGHTS

How to Impress Admissions Officers

This video will explain the following Who, What, How, and Why of the Admissions Office:

  • WHO is the typical Admissions Officer?
  • WHAT is the goal of the Admissions Officer?
  • HOW can you stand out to an Admissions Officer?
  • WHY is it important for you to stand out to an Admission Officer?
Understanding the WHO, WHAT, HOW, and WHY will help you build your "X-Factor".

Misconceptions About Your Application

This video you will teach you about 6 Common Misconceptions candidates all over the world have regarding their application. After watching this video, you will be able to build a strategy to avoid these pitfalls.

How Applications Are Reviewed and Evaluated

This video will discuss common questions regarding the admissions process, such as:

  • 1.) What is an admissions committee?
  • 2.) How many people will review your application materials?
  • 3.) How many steps will your application go through during the admissions process?
Inside the Admissions Office: An Introduction (pt. 1)

Inside the Admissions Office: An Introduction (pt. 1)

Hello! My name is Evan Cudworth, and over the next few months I'll be your tour guide “inside” the Admissions Office. After graduating from the University of Chicago, I spent the past five years reading close to 10,000 applications and interviewing hundreds of students as an admissions officer for UChicago. Utilizing a background in theater and improvisational comedy, I hosted over two dozen essay workshops and case studies programs at top high school programs across the US, and was a featured panelist for regional and international admissions conferences.

I now operate Cudworth//Consulting, a personal firm that helps students prepare for the admissions process and I've decided to partner with ChaseFuture because they value integrity and holistic mentoring that is in the best interest for international students.

You've probably got your eyes set on attending an American university, and might be wondering what it really takes to gain admission. Here's two things that might come as a surprise: there is not a perfect formula to admissions success, and there is no such thing as the “best” school in America. Each college or university has a distinct culture and is comprised of smaller programs, or majors. Just because one is ranked higher than another doesn't necessarily mean it is a school at which you should apply. For example, did you know that almost none of the “top” schools in America offer pure finance programs for undergraduates? Instead, students work within a liberal arts college and take classes in Economics, Public Policy, or International Studies.

However, with guidance from ChaseFuture’s mentors you can find a program that will be a great fit for you. And I could give one piece of advice for students considering applying to American schools, it’s do your research. Don’t rely on rankings alone to make your decision, or you will inevitably end up misinformed and disappointed. However, you will discover that there are a wide variety of excellent schools, most of which you have not heard of with excellent programs for international students that will put you on that path to success in your field.

So stay tuned over the coming weeks, as I take you Inside the Admissions Office, where we'll explore topics such as:

  • What is the decision making process like? What happens between submitting your application and receiving your decision?
  • What does “applying early” mean? Is it an advantage?
  • Why aren't admissions about a simple test? Why all this fuzzy stuff about leadership and extracurricular activities?
  • What kinds of interaction with an admissions office are helpful? Should I go to events? Will it give me an advantage?
  • What's the key to a good application essay?
  • How much do admissions offices know about how Chinese admissions agencies work? Why is it so important that you write your own essays?


*ChaseFuture is now Dyad.

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!


Onward!

Greg Nance

ChaseFuture CEO



*ChaseFuture is now Dyad.

Who Reads my Application?


Before you start this process you might be thinking, “Who reads my application?” Every admis-sions office is slightly different, but the majority of top American institutions have a team of around 10 - 30 admissions counselors who perform duties such as: conducting information ses-sions/interviews, answering emails/phone calls, and reading applications. Additionally, most of-fices operate on a regional model, i.e. every admissions officer is assigned a particular region (or country) and is expected to become an “expert” on the high schools in that region.


This ensures two things:

  • The traveling officer will visit high schools in that region to get a sense of local customs and admissions trends.
  • Students are evaluated fairly in the context of their environment. For example, students who live near a national laboratory will often have access to publish research, while students who live in more rural areas might be expected to work on their farm.


So who are these officers? The same way colleges look to recruit a diverse student body, they also aim to hire a diverse group of admissions officers. Some officers, like myself, were hired directly out of college and are called “Admissions Counselors” or “Assistant Directors.” They perform many of the day-to-day operations, such as answering your emails and reading applica-tions. More experienced officers are often called “Associates,” and they’ll play a larger role in final decision making. Before decisions are made, these officers convene together in what is called a “committee room” to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the applications that year, and often take a vote on which students will be admitted.


Admissions officers are a highly collaborative group, and often travel together and share tips and strategies. Most end up working at a variety of different schools over the course of their career. For example, someone might graduate from Stanford and work there for 2 - 3 years before taking a position at the University of Chicago, an maybe end up at a college such as Swarthmore or Williams.


It can be helpful to remember that admissions officers tend to have a background in the humani-ties. Of course there are plenty of former scientists and engineers, but you should never ignore the importance to reading and writing skills when preparing your application. Highlighting your knowledge of English literature and western philosophy gives officers more confidence that you will acclimate to American college life.


Many colleges now have an officer who recruits specifically in East Asia, perhaps exclusively in China, or you might work with someone called the “Director of International Admissions.” They have special training and knowledge of issues that you might have to deal with, including visas, international scholarships, and other special requirements like the TOEFL.


You might have already met your regional admissions officer at a local recruitment event, or perhaps interacted with them via email.


One key thing to remember: while admissions officers are always happy to help, you should do a thorough search through the college’s website before emailing a question. Hundreds of times a year we’d receive inquiries such as, “When is your application deadline?” and we’d question if the student has the research skills necessary to succeed in college.


Finally, keep in mind that every admissions office is different. Some colleges do not yet have sophisticated recruitment strategies in China, so it will be up to you to do your research and ap-ply through the proper channels. The good news is, counselors at ChaseFuture will happily help point you in the right direction.


*ChaseFuture is now Dyad.

Stand Out with Leadership


Admissions officers are looking for candidates that will add to the campus community. You can stand out by developing leadership skills through your extra-curricular activities. The path to leadership isn’t rocket science – you can get started today!

  1. Get Involved because the world is run by those who show up! Attend information sessions, speak to your active friends, and check out potential clubs online. Mark down the meeting time in your calendar and enlist a buddy to attend with you. It’s more fun with a friend and you are more likely to keep each other accountable.
  2. Plan to Adapt because trying out different activities is key to discovering your true interests and passion. Continue brainstorming on your goals and clarity will come with time. There is no time wasted because the knowledge, skills, and contacts will help open doors later (while helping you build a solid resume in the process).

As a freshman at UChicago, I spent much of my free time participating with the investment club. The experiences helped me land an internship with Merrill Lynch, which gave me the confidence and knowledge to later become an entrepreneur. None of us know where all the twists and turns in the path will lead but we can be confident that our next steps will be fruitful.

  1. Find a Mentor because they can help you navigate the path. They have faced similar challenges and can help you avoid stumbling blocks while pointing out promising opportunities. The President and VP of the UChicago investment club, Elsa and Josh, spent lots of time teaching me about analyzing the economy, picking stocks, and building a portfolio. Our friendship didn’t end when they graduated and both went on to top consulting firms. Elsa and Josh continue to help me with both of my projects, Moneythink and ChaseFuture, serving as helpful advisors as well as wonderful friends and mentors.
  2. Act like a leader by taking on responsibility and being friendly and kind. A fancy title is not required to make a big contribution in your organization. Treat people with respect and be proactive, trying out for opportunities to lead. Share your aspirations with the current leaders – your energy and enthusiasm will demonstrate your potential and create opportunity. This was how I got started in Student Government at UChicago. A few coffee chats changed the direction of my college career by inspiring me to run for President of Student Government, a phenomenal way to build leadership skills. I learned first-hand the importance of getting involved, planning to adapt, finding mentors, and acting like a leader!

Remember that fate favors the bold so we must calculate the risks and take them. We will all experience failure on our journey but that is where we learn the essential lessons of leadership.

It’s no secret that admissions officers aim to invest in applicants that have demonstrated leadership potential. Now you have a roadmap to become a leader on your campus. You can get started today!



Onward!

Greg Nance

ChaseFuture CEO



*ChaseFuture is now Dyad.

Congratulations!

Now you have learned insights from inside the Admissions Office and know the mistakes and misconceptions to avoid in your application:

Remember the following lessons:

  • Understand WHO and Admissions Officer is, WHAT they do, HOW you can stand out, and WHY standing out is vital
  • Developing your "X-Factor" is a proven way to distinguish yourself from the thousands of other applicants
  • Avoid the 6 Common Misconceptions candidates regularly make:
    1. Only Test Scores Matter
    2. My Personal Statement Does Not Matter
    3. Recommendation Letters Are Worthless
    4. My University Is Not Famous, So I Have No Chance
    5. I Need TO Join As Many Extracurriculars As I Can
    6. My Personal Statement and CV Are The Same Thing

What’s My Next Step?

Consider your application holistically and from the perspective of an Admissions Officer. Put yourself in their shoes. How can you develop your X-Factor by crafting a Personal Statement that is unique, highlighting you interests, and getting genuine recommendation letters? Dyad Mentors can help you set the record straight, help you apply, and mitigate your weaknesses. Get ready to rise above the rest.

Contact the Dyad Team to learn more about the Admissions Office and Process Contactcontact