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  • Writer's pictureChris Ream

A View From Inside the Admissions Office: Why your story matters

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

Summer time brings a rite of passage for rising junior and senior high school students: The College Tour. Families flock to colleges around the country attempting to fit in as many visits as they can in the shortest amount of time possible.

In admission offices, though, it’s a time for a brief moment of respite. Admissions officers take a deep breath after months of relentless recruitment travel, application reading, and on-campus events, and enjoy the break in the admissions cycle that the summer provides.

The College touring season and admissions officer off-season align well. During my time in on-campus Admissions, I met with more students and families one-on-one during the summer than any other time of the year. This time allowed me to show students who visited campus from my territories that I was real, caring person - not just a robot who assessed their application in an automated, unfeeling way. I wanted students to know I was the person they could come to if they had questions about their application, their advocate throughout the application process, and their representative when presenting their application to the admissions committee. I wanted them to know that I would tell their story to the best of my ability.

However, to be the best advocate I could be, I NEEDED students to provide me with the substance to tell their story within their application. Applications can say a lot about a student, or they can say very little. Seemingly small decisions like choosing what essay topic is best for you, the right teachers to ask for letters of recommendations, or even the way a student lists their extracurricular activities can have oversized impact when reviewing thousands of applications. An authentic, well-written essay could make me feel like I knew the applicant personally. A strong letter of recommendation could be quoted in committee to great effect. A well-organized and descriptive activities list can tell admissions officers more than most people outside of the college admission profession understand.

It was extremely frustrating when applicants with excellent grades, a strong academic curriculum, and competitive test scores would submit a “flat,” unauthentic application. It made my job as their advocate much more difficult, especially when presenting to the admissions committee.

My experiences as an admissions officer set a solid foundation for my work as an educational consultant. They underscored the importance of students telling their story in an authentic way through their application, which has enabled me to effectively guide students through this process.

That’s why I loved my summers as an admission officer so much – sitting down with families to discuss what was important to them and what they wanted for their future was my favorite part of the job. It’s also what I enjoy most about my work as an educational consultant. Developing robust relationships with my clients is a joy, and knowing my work helps students tell their story to admissions officers who need to hear that story to be the best advocate for them is a win-win in my book.

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