How Do College Admissions Officers Evaluate Applicants?

College admissions officers are not at all like what most high school students imagine. About half of all college admissions officers are recent college graduates themselves. They tend to be young, friendly, outgoing and genuinely enjoy working with aspiring college freshmanConsidering the heavy workload during January through April when the majority of applications arrive and must be evaluated, it should come as no surprise that there’s a high rate of burnout among college admissions officers. How long would you stay at a job knowing you were expected to evaluate upwards of 100 applications everyday? Many admissions officers move on to graduate studies in two or three years.

The final admissions decision are generally made by committees but much of the initial evaluation is done individually. Applications are generally divided geographically with staff members being assigned responsibility for specific geographic regions. It’s not unusual for schools to use a two part rating system with the first part being academic and the second part being extracurricular or non academic. A brilliant student with no extracurricular activities might rate 1E whereas an all American athlete who is a lousy student might earn a rating of 5A.

After the initial evaluation most applications are examined a second time by another admissions officer. If the two ratings are close and the admit or deny decision is clearcut, the application is forwarded to the director of admissions for final action which is either an acceptance or a rejection letter.

That leaves the applicants who will be reviewed further by the committee. The committe often includes some faculty. There are also some politics involved. For example, the basketball coach who wants the mediocre student who happens to be 7′ tall to play for his team will put in a strong word for that the applicant which will likely sway the committee’s decision in his favor. The same is true of other applicants not only athletes. For example, a music professor may argue in favor of a great trumpet player or someone in the arts department might put in a good word for an applicant who shows great promise as an artist.

At this point if there are any remaining spots for perspective freshman, the full committee chooses the final applicants to be admitted. If your application is in this final batch there’s no telling what the outcome may be. It really all depends on how adamantly and effectively any admissions officers in your favor argue the case for your acceptance.

So now you have an insider’s view of the college admissions process. Hopefully that insight will be helpful in gaining admission to the college or university of your choice. Good luck.