Back in a November post, I promised advice collected from admission deans who visited Moses Brown this fall. It has taken me a while to share their perspectives, but I think juniors and parents entering the application process will find them particularly useful. (I’m including some photos from my College of Charleston tour to provide a hint of spring. C of C possesses a handsome campus and versatile curriculum. As a member of the public system in South Carolina, the College also features a more economical tuition.)
Advice from the Director of Admissions at Kenyon College regarding essays:
If you read most of them in my favorites binder, most of them are about “nothing”–for example, a walk on the beach with Granddad. You can choose the most mundane topic. Share a story: the essay is not supposed to be a report or an assignment.
Below are some thoughts from our representative at the University of Southern California regarding the short answer on the Common Application. The prompt reads as follows: “Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below.” (The word limit allows for a very short paragraph; constraints are tight.)
I really think a missed opportunity on the Common Application involves the short answer. I often see a well-written (central) essay that is thoughtful and mature. Then the short answer is just straightforward.
Most kids don’t take time to edit the short answer and make it well-rounded. Students get dry describing what they do–rather than emoting the satisfaction they get out of it. It’s really exciting when you feel their excitement!
Reflections offered by two admission deans on choosing majors or careers:
From a member of the staff at Franklin and Marshall:
“Undecided” can be a very mature answer. We know kids are going to figure it out. There are new things to learn and you better be ready for it.
The Director of Admission at the College of the Atlantic offers his view:
Knowing a language is a door opener.
I want you all to read John Dewey. You learn by doing. (John Dewey was an influential twentieth century American philosopher and educator.)
Admission officers are keenly aware of the struggle most families face in financing college. At a breakfast meeting with college advisors and guidance counselors, a member of the staff at Brown cautioned:
Students need to look really hard at debt–and how debt (specifically, monthly repayments after college) affect career and graduate school.
Finally, our liaison at Vanderbilt offers some family-friendly counsel to students:
Be nice to your parents. They have to fill out the financial aid forms.
We’re fortunate that so many admission representatives are eager to visit Moses Brown every fall–and interact with our students and parents at the Five Independent School College Fair each April. These dedicated professionals are incredibly generous with their time and wisdom.
by Helen Scotte Gordon