How American colleges and universities make admissions decisions

How American colleges and universities make admissions decisions

November 5, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


Hello everybody, Kimberly VanderWeert,
director of World Awaits Academic Consulting with you today to talk about
the admissions process. I guess I chuckle because I talk about the admissions
process quite a bit I feel like, but today I’m like really legitimately going
to talk about the admissions process. In other words, what happens to your
application once you submit it into a college or university?
Who looks at it? What’s their thought process? How do you get from submission
to being accepted into a school? So I am going to share with you the general
understanding of what happens with with colleges and universities. And I say
general because some schools do things slightly differently, but as a whole this
is what’s going to happen to your application once it is submitted into a
college or university… So to begin it is going to be sent off to a regional
admissions counselor. And the regional admissions counselor is an expert, if you
will, in a particular region. So this means that they are really familiar with
the educational systems, the various secondary schools, the courses that are
offered, and the course rigor involved with these various courses, and they
really just understand what’s happening educational…educationally in a
particular region. And so they’re going to be the very first person to look at
your application, and right from the get-go, before they ever even really open
it up and go through any of those you know elements that you’ve added to your
application, such as your letters of recommendation, and your activities lists,
and your personal statements or essays… Before they ever even get to that point,
they’re going to eliminate those applicants who do not meet the
university’s bare minimum requirements. And I say bare minimum because a lot of
universities do you like to look wholistically had a student, even if
their grades maybe don’t meet the same academic standard as the majority of the
applicants that they receive, they do like to take into consideration other
factors for why that student may not have the same academic credentials as
their counterparts, or those people who have also applied to that particular
institution. And the reason they do that is because they recognize that there are
certain extenuating circumstances, such as a death or personal illness, that may
prevent a student from getting the exact same super high scores, or maybe a
student just isn’t financially in as good in as good a position as those that
they’re up against at this institution and so therefore their grades maybe
will suffer a little bit because they aren’t given as many academic
advantages. So there are other factors that they like to look at, but they will
eliminate usually about 5% of the pool just based on whether the applicant
meets the requirements or not. From there the regional counselor is going to
start going through all of your application. They’re going to look at
everything that you included. Every single piece that you put in there will
be reviewed by the admissions counselor. And what they’re going to do is they’re
going to fill out a little sheet. Basically they’re gonna give you a
ranking on a variety of factors and those factors will include something
like: intellectual curiosity, writing ability, academic abilities, so your
grades and SAT or a CT scores, academic potential… So they have a list
of factors that they’re looking for in an applicant and then they will give you
a ranking for each of those factors. They will then often write up a little
sheet that…that will list off the highlights and the lowlights of your
application so that it can be reviewed by committee. But that’s only if your
application makes it to committee. It is at this point that the admissions
counselor will reject some of the applications or send them to committee,
or decide that an additional counselor, or maybe more than one additional
counselor, should review your application. So obviously if you’re rejected, you’re
rejected. If you put in the committee pile you’ll move to committee and we’ll talk
about that in a minute. But what will happen then, if you are moved into the
pile where an additional counselor will look at your application…and I want to say
this because this is where the majority of applications end up…is they right
from the get-go get reviewed by one person and then sent off to another
person who will additionally rank your application to the various criteria that
they’re looking for, and then that person will then determine whether or not your
application is going to move to committee, or possibly even an additional
counselor yet. So once all that happens and they have decided who’s going to go
to committee, all of the counselors will get together in a room and they will
talk about each application one by one. And so this is where the little write-up
that your initial regional counselor will come in handy. So your regional
counselor will get out of your application, get out the little blurb
that they wrote about you that lists your high…the highlights and lowlights
of your application, and they will verbally talk about your application
with the other counselors. And it as at this point that…you know they don’t mince any
words. They will talk about the highlights of your application, perhaps
very glowingly, but they’re also going to be nitpicky and find mistakes in your
application. So if you have a run-on sentence, or you know you misuse….
I’m sorry punctuation, or you know you have an extracurricular that seems a
little fishy to them… for example playing lacrosse or whatever for three months
instead of three years. Like why did you bother putting something on your
application if you only did it for three months? They’re gonna talk about all of
these things and then they’re going to take a vote about whether you should be
admitted into the institution or not. And so if the majority votes no, your
application is rejected. If the majority votes yes, your application will move
into an admit pile. And if your…if they vote for a tie, your application will
move into a waitlist file. And in case you’re unfamiliar with what waitlisting
is, it is when basically you wait and see if additional spots open up at that
particular school. So once the school sends out their letters to the
students that they want to admit, those students will then respond and say yes
or no – they will be attending or they won’t. And as students decide that they
won’t be attending that institution, spots will open up and then new
letters will go out to those students who are on the waitlist. So anyway… At this point you will either be admitted,
wait-listed, and/or rejected. The problem, though, is that almost always the school…
I shouldn’t even say always…the school decides to admit more students than they
actually have room for, and so they have to go through and they have to then trim
down the admit pile, and those students who are taken off of the admit pile are
then added to the waitlist pile. And the students who had previously been
admitted and then wait-listed those are going to be the very first students who
are removed from the waitlist and sent letters of acceptance. So that is, you
know, in general what’s going to happen to your application.