Horizon House Admission Building

To get an inside perspective, we solicited advice from some gatekeepers. This week, a panel of admissions deans from Yale University, Pomona College, Lawrence University and the University of Texas at Austin will answer selected reader questions.

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Questions from readers (updated on Dec. 18 at 4:50 p.m.):

With respect to programs of study, we are less concerned with particular course designations and more concerned simply to see that candidates have embraced and performed well in whatever their schools offer as a most challenging program. At the same time, we are not particularly drawn to one-dimensional students who have made their sole or primary objective in life amassing the largest number of honors or AP courses conceivable, accompanied by multiple efforts to achieve the world’s highest test scores.

The length of a reference isn’t our measure of its worth.

Mr. Brenzel of Yale: We neither privilege nor ignore community service. The thing we are looking for outside the classroom is not a series of check boxes on a resume; we’re looking instead for a high level of engagement or leadership in whatever it is that the student cares about most. For some students, community service is at the forefront of their extracurriculars, in which case we pay a lot of attention to what they have accomplished in that area. For other students, some other passion or interest holds primary sway, and we evaluate the engagement in that area. We know that very few students can fully engage more than one or two primary activities at a high level. Though it is fine for a student to have varied interests, a significant number of students make the common mistake of spreading themselves too thinly in a resume-building exercise.

Updated on Dec. 18 at 4:50 p.m.: The first set of answers to reader questions .

How To Write A College Essay | MIT Admissions

And, when a student is denied admission to a college, there is often the presumption that they were not qualified. At highly selective colleges, the reality is that many (perhaps most?) of the denied applicants meet the academic standards for admission, but were not offered admission simply because there was not sufficient capacity to accommodate all academically qualified candidates.

College Admissions: The Essay Doesn't Matter as Much …

Given that colleges need to admit a certain balance of athletes, legacies, artists, musicians and development-office selections, is it reasonable for people to expect the process to be fair?

That’s it for tips. Now you should read the Essays that Worked, and be inspired by their example!

Comments are no longer being accepted.

What advice can you offer a 51-year-old who was recently downsized after 25 years in the newspaper / publishing / printing world, and who would like to return to college for her first degree in something totally unrelated to her work experience? (iI’s been, ahem, more than 20 years for many of the credits already accumulated. There are new elements on the periodic table since I took college chemistry. Ouch.) Oh, and there will need to be financial aid to pay for school too …

Connecticut CollegeOffice of Admission270 Mohegan Ave.New London, CT 06320

not to early to begin thinking of these things

It has long been understood that there are five main facets of an application:
Transcript, Recommendations, Standardized Test Scores, Extracurriculars, and Essays.

Connecticut CollegeOffice of Admission270 Mohegan Ave.New London, CT 06320

Why are fewer males than females applying to college?

Mr. Syverson of Lawrence: This really depends upon what is defined as fair. Colleges don’t admit all their students just based upon their academic prowess. Each college strives to enroll a class that meets a number of objectives for the college — provide enough athletes to have competitive teams, provide enough musicians who play the right instruments to round out the needs of the orchestra, maintain good relations with alumni donors by enrolling their children, etc. These needs and objectives vary by college and by year. If this year we really need a bassoonist for the orchestra and a point guard for the basketball team, then bassoonists and point guards have an advantage. If next year we need a baseball pitcher and a violist, but have plenty of point guards and bassoonists, then bassoonists and point guards no longer have an advantage. It can be argued that it would be unfair to other members of the orchestra if the admissions office did not enroll a qualified bassoonist if they had the opportunity to do so.