Over the past two months through last weekend, Penn sent admissions officers to Questbridge’s three College Admissions Conferences at Stanford, Princeton and Northwestern. Today, I’m bringing you part of what we’ve learned:
• Be aware of admissions timelines at each of the institutions you apply to. While use of the common application centralizes the submission process, each institution might use different rules and guidelines for this process.
• Use the common application, and the spaces provided, in the best way possible. Quick tips for maximal use of the common app include creating a professional email, with your first and last names, to use as your contact email on the application; being explicit about your family background so that admissions officers can understand your context; and structuring your extracurricular activities in such a way that will convey the relative importance of each activity in your daily life.
• Be as transparent as possible when applying for financial aid. Institutions will only be able to provide you with an appropriate package if they know your family’s current and complete financial circumstances. Remember that this information remains confidential even after submission, so privacy should not be an issue.
• Tell your story and don’t be afraid of it. Admissions officers can better get to know you, your aspirations, and your fit with their institutions through the lens of your life experiences up to this point. Remember, every student, regardless of socioeconomic background, has a story to tell.
Whether it’s a community-based organization, university-sponsored program in your town, or a nationally recognized nonprofit, getting involved in a college readiness program, like Questbridge, can support you through this admittedly challenging process. In addition to offering benefits like essay workshops or test prep programs, becoming an active participant in a college readiness program is a great way to get involved in your community, outside of your high school setting.
For this knowledge, I have to thank the Questbridge staff and conference attendees Associate Dean of Admissions Sean Vereen and Admissions Counselor Amy Smith.