What college admissions officers want (Washington Post)

The Washington Post had a wonderful article this morning titled What College Admissions Officers Say They Want in a Candidate. The post reminded me of a couple important tidbits to be mindful of when beginning the application process.

  1. The “formula” to get into a specific college or program is fairy non-existent
  2. Trust in the foundation you have set the past four years
  3. Trust your resources (counselors, advisors, teachers, admission officers) and not “Something someone said one this one time.”
  4. You have the power to present a strong application
  5. Essays are one of the big ways you can show your unique sense of self, take advantage of this space!
  6. Breathe 🙂


With that said, please take a look at some solid advice from Admissions Counselors across a number of colleges and universities here: What college admissions officers say they want in a candidate

A snapshot of the article is below. Happy reading!

Stefanie Niles, Dickinson College vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications: Nothing is more important than a high school transcript showing strong academic performance in a solid curriculum. We want to admit students who will persist to college graduation, so knowing that you can do the work starts with a thorough review of high-school performance. The essay also matters; we want to see that you can write, what you write and what we can learn about you. We want to enroll students who will contribute to the life of the campus, so we are eager to see how you have contributed to your high-school community or the community in which you live.

Toni Riley, Illinois Institute of Technology director of undergraduate admission: If you had a bad semester or a bad year, and your cumulative GPA doesn’t reflect your ability or your overall high school career, still apply, but talk about the decline in your grades in your application. It is a pet peeve when we see an anomaly in grades and the student never addresses this. Tell us what happened and how you turned it around. This is a great way for us to see how you respond to setbacks. If you had a recent decline in grades we may ask to see another semester of work before making a final admission decision, but you have nothing to fear if you turned it around.

Anthony Ferguson Jr., Drake University admissions counselor: College will be a fun time, but it also may seem like a daunting journey, so relish the time you have with your friends and lose yourself in the small moments that make you laugh till your stomach hurts — college will be there when it’s all over. Applicants who are able to convey that they have spent their high school years exploring different classes, activities and opportunities immediately grab my attention. The most attractive applications ultimately grant me insight into the applicant’s passion, motivation and reasoning behind wanting to be at Drake.

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: