Criteria Admissions Officers Want to See

By: AM (College Admissions)

Feels good to mark things off.

Hello! This is part of a series documenting my journey from selecting colleges, to finally hitting the ‘send’ button on my online applications. It all started here.

I turned my attention to my lengthy list of colleges. I went through every college on my list, and I asked myself, “Do I really want to go there? If so, why?”

I found I had no idea why I was applying to some of them. I got rid of some public schools, and even some Ivy Leagues. After the process was done, I narrowed my list down to a grand total of…. (drum roll) 16! Yeah, I know, not very impressive. I read the list to my sister, and we agreed that it was a strong list.

The next week was filled with thrilling (not really) family events, and more volunteering. Again, I didn’t get much done. One thing that I read is that it’s important to utilize as much of the application as you can. That means, if the college gives you the chance to write an optional essay, you absolutely write it if it’s on a topic that you can write about. Following this rule, I decided to ask one of my summer school professors for a supplementary letter of recommendation. I had written a great 17-page research paper in that class in just two days (my hand-me-down Mac crashed), and I received a great grade on it. So, I e-mailed him, asking him for a letter (still no response :/).

Then, realizing my standardized writing test scores weren’t good, I decided to look through my computer for strong examples of my writing. The problem was my best writing is found in double digit paged research papers. What admissions officers wants to read a 10 page report on the struggles of labor in the 1960s vs. today or a 17 pager on the development of executive privilege since the Nixon era? (Sweet dreams to my readers who just fell asleep after that last sentence).

Getting bored myself, I decided to get my resume typed out. This was a pain. If you are still a freshmen, here’s some words of advice. MAKE YOUR RESUME AS YOU GO! I cannot explain how painstaking it was to remember everything I had done since my freshmen year. After I finally finished with the help of my parents and sisters, I looked at it. I know I should have been proud at what I had accomplished, but all I could think about was the weaknesses and what I lacked.

I got a little more done in the past week than I had in the previous two. However I once again did not get nearly as much done as I planned. This time the excuse was extracurricular activities that needed to be prepared. I managed to get one of my supplemental applications done for a backup school though (Stop for applause).

I was really proud of the essays I wrote. For the “Why (college name)?” essay, I decided to paint a picture for the admissions office. I depicted a scenario in which I was a student at the college. I showed what I loved about the college and what I would gain from attending by writing about a pictured day in the life at the university.


Not only does this show what you like about this college, but it also shows the college that you care enough to research about it. Be prepared though. This takes a lot of research to do well! Just this 500-word essay took me much longer than it should have. The next day, I completed the second essay, feeling pretty good about myself.

I decided to turn my attention on the next supplement. It was an easy one, containing just three 150-word short answer questions. Yet, to this day, I am only done with two (Going to finish the third after writing this ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

I decided that it was time to e-mail my teacher back about my recommendation letter. This took me almost 4 hours to complete. Not wanting to come off as an idiot, I made sure every detail was right. I included all the colleges I was planning to apply to, the due dates for every application, and the essays for all the applications. I also gave her my completed essays, my high school resume to look at, and told her where I planned to apply early. You can imagine the gigantic sigh of relief I gave when I got an e-mail back and was not criticized for anything done wrong.

Phew! That’s it. You’re finally caught up on my life. Expect some more frequent posts now that I am not struggling to remember things from three weeks ago. It’s getting late, and I have some facebooking to do and a fantasy football draft tomorrow that I need to prepare for. Oh, and yeah, that third short answer question.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section if you need clarification or want more details. I know it was a long post ๐Ÿ™‚

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