The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

Cracking the Admissions Code is Not Impossible

Learn what factors go into the college admissions process with an expert college consultant from Quad Education Consulting
Student walking on college campus.

According to Quad Education Group, current Ivy League acceptance rates have dropped to extremely low numbers, ranging from 3.3 percent to 7.3 percent. With nearly over a hundred thousand applicants, top universities are becoming harder to get into each year, despite students achieving more. 

Mary Banks, formerly in admissions at Columbia University and New York University, is the Director of Admissions Consulting at Quad Education Group. Quad Education provides resources for students and connects them with counselors who work closely with them throughout the application process. Banks has worked in higher education for over 40 years; below she shares her knowledge on the intense reality of the college admissions process.

What goes into the admissions selection?

It’s a complex and chaotic thing that is really quite simple. There are millions of students applying, some will get in, and some will not. We need to remember there is a plethora of programs that will provide a student with an exceptional experience. Once you apply it may seem like a matter of chance. Two people may have the exact same credentials, they may look alike, are from great high schools, and write wonderful essays, but one gets in and one doesn’t. There are many factors that go into an admissions decision that are not necessarily obvious. Be authentic and seek advice when you build your application/program list after your research is complete.  You need to find that place where you “fit.”

How can students get the most out of letters of recommendation?

Whether you have a low GPA, a perfect academic record, or exceptional athletic credentials, it is important that your counselor, or teacher, shares examples of your potential with specific references that tell your story, adding color to your application. It’s also important to have a resume or a list of attributes that you would like your faculty member to stress in the letter of recommendation.

What should students think about when choosing where to apply?

Students should consider cost, location, their specific program, diversity, student groups, and other factors. It is advisable to consider your local university or community college when compiling your list.

How can students use personal and supplemental essays to stand out?

You must figure out what it is that makes you unique and incorporate those different attributes to create a persona that will shine through on your applications. The supplemental essays are important and will differentiate your application from others.

What separates one student from another?

Someone I worked with in admissions went to Harvard for her undergraduate education. She started her own business making bakery goods out of jellyfish, and she had every required box checked:  excellent grades, perfect SATs, and more. The things that separated her from other applicants were that her humility and her authenticity were apparent in her essays.

How can a student showcase his/her abilities beyond the numbers?

Most schools are concerned with putting together a class that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. It’s great to have the best grades, the best test scores, and the best everything, but unless you have incorporated a pay-it-forward, volunteer experience, and sincere and authentic participation in your community, it is not enough to just be smart. Everybody is smart in one way or another.

Why should comparison be avoided?

I think the most damaging thing that we can do as applicants is to compare ourselves to our peers. Not just our global peers, but our friends; people who were our friends until admissions decisions were compared. Just be careful.

Why is authenticity very important?

The pressure that is on high school students, even middle school students,  is unconscionable. I don’t think that it does anything except create an anxious and depressed population, and that is not what colleges are seeking. Some parents and their students have put so much emphasis on achievement that it has created an inauthentic applicant. Someone who has focused on real interests, even a possible career path, throughout his/her four years of high school is a much more exciting applicant than someone who is trying to be great at everything with no discernible passion.

For more information:

Quad Education is a leading college admissions consulting company in America with 15+ years of experience. With a 98% acceptance rate and a team of counselors that has reviewed over 211,000 applications, Quad Education is committed to maximizing your chances of getting accepted into the world’s most competitive programs. Book a free consultation today.

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