Admitted or Denied in 8 Minutes or Less?

Did you see the Wall Street Journal article released earlier this year about some admissions teams reviewing college applications in 8 minutes or less? If not, you can click below to read the article. It may surprise you.

While it may be true that admissions teams quickly read through applications (think about job applications and resumes -- everyone knows that recruiters spend seconds glancing over a resume before deciding to call the candidate), there are two nuances I want to call out:

1. Application reviewers are trained to look for certain things, which considerably speeds up the process. Once a reviewer understands all the parts of an application, they are able to get through each one quicker than other people.

2. Applications go through several reviews. More than one person is reading the application and conversations about the candidates occur between the readers and decision committees.

So, the actual review process is longer than 8 minutes.


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How Do I Decide Which College Is the Right One for Me?

If you’re the parent of a high school senior, your child has probably spent the past several weeks trying to figure out which college offer to accept (Even if your child isn’t at this stage yet, keep reading on for tips that will be helpful in the near future).

It’s a good problem to have, but a difficult choice.

If your child is anything like me, I was big on making lists to help me make a decision. I created an Excel file listing the pros and cons of each school. Despite perfecting that spreadsheet, I still felt torn about which college to go to.

What if I choose the wrong school?!

The truth is: When it comes to making a decision about what college to go to, no decision your child makes will be “wrong.”

Even if they find out halfway through freshman year of college that they want to transfer to another college, it’ll still be a formative, valuable experience.

If your child is still deciding which college offer to accept, here are five questions...

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The Top Mistake on College Application Essays

I’ve read a lot of college application essays -- both during my time as part of the UC Berkeley admissions team and over the past ten years guiding students as they apply to college.

Within moments of reading a college application essay, I can tell if a student makes one of the most common mistakes when it comes to writing a college application essay:

Staying on the surface.

I oftentimes find that students either are too afraid to get personal in their essays or have no idea how to reveal their true selves.

They’re afraid of getting judged (let’s get real — they ARE getting judged by the admissions team) or feel like it’s too weird to share their personal thoughts and experiences.

You know what’s even more weird? A student self-sabotaging their chances of getting into their dream school by not opening up in their college application essays.

Students oftentimes have no idea how incredible and unique their stories are. 

I had a student last...

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Waitlisted? How to improve the chances of getting accepted.

I remember anxiously waiting during my senior year to receive the decision for my application to Harvard. When it finally arrived, I had a mix of emotions:

I was waitlisted.

After putting in so much hard work into my studies, clubs, and sports, I was deflated and confused. At the time I had wished for either an acceptance or denial (of course, more so the acceptance than the denial) — at least either of those options would give me closure. Being waitlisted meant I would have to continue being in suspense until a decision was made.

But, then I realized being waitlisted meant I had a fighting chance of still getting in.

If a student has been waitlisted by one of their top choice schools and has accomplished something noteworthy since submitting their application, sending an update letter or essay can help improve their chances of moving off the waitlist. Here are three things a student can do:

  1. Find out the process for submitting an update: When sending out waitlist...
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Three Reasons Why You Were Rejected by a “Safety School” and What You Can Do About It

Throughout the months of March and April, students across the country are repeatedly clicking “refresh” on college admissions websites, anxiously awaiting the outcome of three and a half years of hard work in high school.

While most will be preoccupied with whether or not they’ll get into their dream school, many will be shocked to receive something completely unexpected: a rejection from a safety school — a school assumed to be easy to get into.

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed parents in online forums sharing how upset their kids are about these rejections and seeking reasons why this could possibly happen.

Once a student gets rejected by a safety school, they may feel completely devastated. Here are three reasons that might help explain what may have gone wrong:

  1. Underestimating the competition: While grades and test scores aren’t everything, they make up two of the most important parts of a college application. A...
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