Bradshaw College Consulting

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

There is so much misinformation about applying for admission to a top college or university that I thought that I should dedicate a column to demystifying the process.

While some students may have grandiose ideas about a campus with Gothic spires and crewing on the Charles River, these thoughts should not be considered when going through the application process.

Intelligence, performance and careful planning help in picking top college
 


 

What will get you into a Harvard, University of Pennsylvania or Notre Dame is intelligence, an ability to perform well under pressure, and careful planning. In all instances the applicant must have a precise understanding of what courses he or she wishes to study, and why.

First of all, research a number of schools before you decide that an elite college or university is the place where you can best pursue your career goals. You need to embrace the idea that you will be a part of a highly competitive student body. Students at top schools learn quickly, are generally taught in smaller groups, have a very low dropout rate and enjoy conditions conducive to outstanding academic performance.

Next, it is important that you graduate in at least in the top 5 percent of your class, although this does not mean a solid set of A's. If you have an uneven record in your freshman year of high school, but are on target in the second and third years, you should prepare a brief explanation of your academic performance in your personal statement on the application.

Even today, and because they are the only criteria that are universally standardized, top SAT and ACT scores always carry a lot of weight with admissions committees. A good showing is a score of at least 750 (out of a possible 800) in each category of the SAT and Subject Tests. The magic number is 750, but admissions committees point out that students with perfect scores are sometimes turned down, and students with lower test scores are admitted.

A 750 in Math II and U.S. History and 720 in Physics is typical of students admitted to top colleges. A 34/36 on the ACT is acceptable.

You need to understand that entrance to an elite school is always competitive and that every year seemingly top candidates fail to get in. Should you not get an offer, there are other excellent schools — some of them state schools where you will receive a top-notch education.

While a college may say that their general admission rate is 60 percent you will find that direct admits to computer science and engineering may have admit rates as low as 10 percent. You need to pay close attention to course descriptions and major requirements.

If you do not have copies of recruitment materials from your preferred schools order them from the admissions office and ask for course-specific brochures as well. A well thought out possible career path will go a long way in helping to get your application noticed.

Once you have thought about all of these considerations and are still set on applying to an elite school, focus on the admissions process.

One of the reasons that certain high schools have so many students admitted to elite colleges is that they expect them to aim high and they prepare them well academically. These schools expect their graduates to have the university application process completed in draft form before the end of summer of their junior year. This helps to assure that early application deadlines, typically Nov. 1, will not be missed.

Remember that as you compare colleges and universities you are preparing for your future and that the school you choose should be the one that can best help you realize your career aspirations.

Gerald Bradshaw is a top tier US admissions consultant.

gerald_bradshaw@post.harvard.edu

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