Answers to Common College Admissions Questions, the 2004 Questions

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  • The college admissions process is all about marketing and fit. Initially, the colleges market themselves to prospective students in an attempt to get a diverse group of applicants (and to meet certain quotas). Once a student decides which colleges he/she wants to apply to, then it’s the student’s turn to market his/her unique qualifications to the colleges.

  • Once the marketing game has played out, the decisions by the colleges on which students to accept and by the students on which schools they will attend all come down to fit; the college admissions staff wants to admit students who will fit well on campus and the students want a place where they feel they belong.

The 2004 Questions

After careful review of last year’s results and the new developments and trends in college admissions, we formulated these questions for our 2004 study:

  • What are the critical activities that a high-school junior should be doing during the year to best maximize his or her college planning?

  • Some experts say the college application process really begins in the ninth grade with the student’s academic rigor and grades from that first year of high-school forward. How do you look at grades? Do you look at all four years equally, or are the final two years more important? Can an applicant make a case for admission with a mixed bag of grades in academically challenging courses?

  • How important is an on-campus visit and interview for a prospective student? Do you even conduct interviews? Can a marginally acceptable student with great sales skills and a passion for your college make a positive impact with a personal interview? For an extremely shy applicant, can an interview actually hurt his or her admissions standing?

  • What is so important about an applicant’s outside activities and this notion of being “well-rounded”? And why is leadership in one of these outside activities -- sports, clubs, student government, etc. -- so important to the college admissions process? How do you view these things?

  • Academics (grades, rigor, and class rank), standardized test scores, application essay(s), recommendations, and outside activities seem to be the main criteria schools use to rank and decide on acceptances. Can you give any more insight into how your school views these components -- as well as discuss any other components you use to judge applications? And trends?