The college admissions process can seem obscure and impenetrable. But behind all of the myths and speculation are. . . people!
Learn more about the college admissions officers who read college applications and how students can make their applications stand out.
Who Are College Admissions Officers?
There are two general types of college admissions officers:
- Career admissions officers who have been in the business for a decade or more and have potentially worked at multiple colleges.
- Recent college graduates who are just beginning their careers.
While this audience is diverse, all college admissions officers have one important thing in common: they know what makes their school special and which students thrive there.
When reading a student’s application, a college admissions officer looks beyond grades and extracurriculars and considers questions like: Will this person be a good roommate, teammate, and/or classmate? Are they a good fit for this campus?
What Is It Like to Read a College Application?
Today, most college applications are read digitally. A typical setup involves two computer monitors—one with the student’s application and another with a notes sheet—so the college admissions officer can input key takeaways from the application as they read it.
A single admissions officer can read 1,000+ applications per admissions cycle. Yes, you read that right! The reading season typically starts in mid-October and can extend into February or March. And it is busy.
How Students Can Make a Good Impression
College admissions officers are great at what they do. But just like any of us, they’re by no means perfect. They have good days and bad days. They feel burnt out sometimes. Unfortunately, students have no control over these factors.
So, how can students hope to make a good impression? By focusing on what they can control and making sure that their application stands out. Here are three guidelines to follow:
1. Put yourself in the college admissions officer’s shoes
College admissions officers are real people working a challenging job, so be respectful of their time and avoid bogging them down with unnecessary or unrequested information.
A useful rule of thumb is that colleges want what they ask for. If they didn’t ask for it, they really don’t want it. Students should keep this rule in mind when strategizing how to best highlight their achievements.
2. Be genuine
The college application process is a time for self-reflection, yet many students make the mistake of skipping over this critical piece. We recommend students research schools and be honest with themselves about whether a school is a good fit.
College admissions officers can tell when a student is being genuine vs. communicating what they think the admissions officers want to hear. They know when students are trying to force a fit that isn’t naturally there.
3. Be strategic
It’s important for students to be strategic in how they present themselves in their college applications. A helpful tip to remember is that admissions officers respond to storytelling.
We tell students to consider how they are convinced to see a movie or how they convince someone else to see it. They can use a similar approach with their college application, aiming to build a personal narrative and communicate it clearly.
While putting together their college applications, students should ask themselves: “How would someone reading this sum me up in one sentence?” Because that’s essentially what college admissions officers are going to do.
Get Undergraduate College Admissions Support
If tasks like researching colleges, writing a personal statement, and completing a college application feel too overwhelming for your student, don’t hesitate to reach out to Signet for support.
Our college admissions consultants have served as college admissions officers for prestigious schools throughout the US and can provide targeted one-on-one guidance based on their expertise.