Secrets of Admissions
Secrets of Admissions: Do’s & Don’ts from College and Grad School Admissions Decision Makers
Two weeks ago, EduPlan had the honor of being invited to the prestigious AIGAG conference in New York, where we met with several admission officers from prestigious institutions like the University of California at Berkeley, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, NYU, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, INSEAD in France, and others.
At this event, we learned what admissions officers want and don’t want in submitted applications directly from the mouth of decision-makers. Here we share these invaluable secrets with you!
1. Leaders wanted: Whether you’re a natural-born leader or a developing one, schools are looking to train leaders that are willing to look beyond the status quo, find solutions, and express confidence without attitude.
2. Theory’s out, experience is in: Experiential learning or “learning by doing” is the hottest trend in higher education. Universities believe the best way to teach students how to find solutions to real world business problems is through observation, analysis and implementation directly in the field of work. Your interest and prior experience with this learning methodology is interesting for college and grad school admissions.
3. Corporate responsibly: Today´s company is judged not just by the products or services offered but by its behavior within society. That is why today´s prestigious schools look for students focused more on responsible business practices, environmentally awareness and social consciousness.
4. Exploit your unique advantage: If you have past experiences in fields like engineering, technology or even medicine, business schools offer you the opportunity to combine majors to help you get the best of two worlds. This is an asset when applying to advanced degree programs, as seen by admissions officers.
5. Avoid the third round: Often times, you have the choice of submitting a grad school application in the first round, second round or third round. Schools warn that the third round is extremely competitive. If your application is as good as it gets, if you´re happy with your GMAT or GRE score, if your essay is perfect, admissions officers advise to make your submission prior to the first round deadline. If you can improve your resume, GMAT, or anything that will help you become a better candidate, wait to send your application until the second round.
6. Show me the money: A large percentage of students seek and get scholarship money in top schools, as well as financial aid. If you are in need of financial aid and scholarships, although we might have considered otherwise in the past, you will no longer feel a disadvantage – too many students are asking for this to be an exception to the rule or play against you.
7. Think globally, act globally: In teaching how to recognize opportunities, find partnerships, and promote corporate social responsibility. Universities are becoming very global and offer nowadays a large number of international exchange programs, consulting opportunities, study-abroad, special engagements in many countries and continents. We have become McLuhan’s Global Town. Think globally and you will be more attractive for admissions and in tune with trends.
8. Know where you´re going and how you´ll get there: Colleges are not as interested in students that want to find themselves as in students that know where they are headed. They want applicants to already have an idea of what they want to do after school, how to get there with the understanding of how the college program will help them achieve those goals.
9. Be prepared, be very prepared: Universities also want to know what has prepared the student for what they want to do, and if the student understands in depth what they’re talking about. For example, it would make no sense for someone that rarely uses computers to major in systems engineering, or for someone that rarely draws to study architecture.
10. Get a clue: If you want to make a career transition it´s a major no-no to have no clue about how hard it is to make that transition. For example, a communications major that wants to pursue an MBA should understand the realities of business administration and what it would take for them to successfully make this career change.
11. Avoid the kiss of death: A BIG mistake you can make is to stop working to study and prepare for the GMAT or the GRE. Most students take the GMAT/GRE while they’re working, so why shouldn’t or couldn’t you? This is frowned upon by admissions officers, as directly expressed at the AIGAC conference.
12. Go forward: Admissions officers look for forward movement in the student life, they want to see progress and how the candidate was able to build something little by little.
13. Close the gaps: If you have any gaps in your life, such as periods of unemployment, or breaks from school, don’t leave anything for the admissions officers imagination. They have a great imagination and will suspect the worse, unless you provide reason why. You are better off addressing everything that could be questionable in your application.
14. Disclose the bad before it gets real bad: Always disclose negative things. In a special case of a doctor applying to business school, where the situation exposed did not make sense, the admissions officer researched and found out that he lost his medical license for malpractice. As he tried to camouflage the situation, and did not truthfully disclose the circumstances, the school was left without a choice and rejected him.
15. If it sounds too good to be true, they will investigate: When the essays you submit for admissions are too good to be true, admissions officers will often look at your TOEFL, GMAT or GRE essay to see if it has similarities with the materials provided in the application. If they find an improvement that isn’t logical, they will suspect that your essays were written by someone other than yourself. This will automatically disqualify you for admissions. Aside from the ethical and moral implications of having your essays written by a third party, this is yet another important argument for you to author your own materials.
16. Believe in yourself: Schools look for leader that are confident and can hold their own in conversation. Communication skills are essential, being shy or awkward rarely works in the real world, much less in school. Take a course, go to Toastmasters if you need to improve in this area.
17. Relax during the interview: Yes, you want to get accepted by the college of your dreams, but rattling papers during the interview, being nervous and seeming anything less than authentic will not help you connect and make a good impression. This is the one shot you will have to make a standing and propel your admission. Maximize this opportunity
By Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan