How admissions works at elite schools

Recorded Wednesday, November 17 at 01:00 AM

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About this livestream


College admissions is a complicated process that is difficult to navigate — but it doesn’t have to be that way! With a better understanding of how admissions officers at elite schools view and assess your candidacy, you can optimize your application to present yourself in the best light possible.

In this stream, Robert will walk you through the steps to an acceptance and give you an inside look as to how your application is viewed by admissions committees.

Your host

Undergrad College: Yale University '21

Major: Ethics, Politics & Economics; Classics (Intensive)

Work Experience: As a recent graduate of Yale University, I am excited to begin my first year with CollegeVine! In many ways, CV was a natural fit for me -- at Yale, I worked for over two years in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, beginning as a Senior Interviewer in the summer of 2019, during which I interviewed over 200 first-year applicants for the 2019-2020 college admissions cycle. After the summer ended, I became Lead Recruitment Coordinator, a full-time position responsible for executing and overseeing Yale’s numerous post-admissions decision yield initiatives, as well as serving as a spokesman for the university both in person and online. Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of interacting with hundreds of students and their families at all stages of the college application process.

My Admissions Story: Having always been interested in studying a variety of subjects within the Humanities and Social Sciences, I applied to a smattering of liberal arts colleges and universities (mostly on the East Coast) with strong departments in these areas, large and diverse student bodies, and varied extracurricular opportunities. When my college admissions decisions rolled in, I immediately accepted an offer from my dream school, Yale University, which I had always felt best embodied the opportunities and goals that I desired from my college experience -- and since that day, I’ve never looked back.

Audience questions

These are questions from the audience that we had time to answer during the live session. If you have any other questions, you can request an answer from Robert and other CollegeVine experts in an upcoming livestream or on the Q&A Forum anytime.
0:29@summerorbanwrites:Hi Robert!
0:58@summerorbanwrites:Can see and hear you okay!
1:23@mcj2185:can hear okay but cant see
1:26@Kien:Everything is fine for me
1:36@Luqmaan:Audio/Video is perfect.
1:47@timw:can see and hear you fine
1:54@mcj2185:all good now!
7:46@marci:Is admissions race-blind? Specifically, and on other words are they aware of ethnic /race background of applicants in the Yale admissions? Are they blind to that information and do not even see it until a decision is made?
19:25@Vidhyagovindan:will we get the recordings?
23:43@Airy:Can you explain the academic cutoff again? I don’t think I heard the definition
30:57@teanmi:Is that weighted or unweighted?
31:57@Arvind:How does Occasional B or a C is perceived
33:11@m4ry:Do colleges look at quarter grades?
33:53@Kien:Some people said that a A- is a 4.0 but some said that it is not. Can you clarify that for me?
34:38@nikyta:So, you shouldn’t send in a 1470? How much do those 30 points matter?
37:21@junsid0224:Do your parents’ professions factor into the college admissions? I’ve heard of local universities/colleges that immediately accept the children of doctors that chose to work there.
39:58@DiyaN:Since different schools give different weights for the more rigorous courses, how do they compare it on the same scale?
42:05@pshankar:What website is the chancing system on?
42:50@Airy:The admission officer looks at your academic index and see whether you pass the academic cutoff?
44:00@Tommyferraro31:How can I update my sat scores on the common app.
45:21@timw:Is being a National Merit Finalist a significant advantage? It's difficult to devine from all the online admissions tips how or if it is weighted.
58:07@DiyaN:Are School club leadership positions considered tier 3?
58:20@teastwood:Is being an Eagle Scout considered a Tier I extracurricular?
58:45@n380:So is creating something for a national lab like tier one?
59:22@summerorbanwrites:I attend a small, private Midwestern school where the majority of funding is used for donor and fundraising events; extracurricular opportunities that are available usually last for about a few months before discontinuing altogether until the next school year (COVID making all opportunities practically nonexistent). I started my podcast last year and freelance writing this year due to this frustration, yet most of my activities are in the Tier 2 category, with a few Tier 3s. I've delt with a lot of mental health issues throughout high school after being discouraged by administrative faculty from taking CCPs (APs and honors aren't offered) and as a senior, I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. I'm concerned if I explain my situation I'll just be viewed a profile-padding fraud trying to play the disability card at best or slander my school at worst. Any advice on setting yourself apart in elite college admissions when you just feel like an imposter?
59:34@summerorbanwrites:Oh gosh I'm so sorry I didn't realize how long that was...
63:56@Airy:I heard that the holistic review was a new way to get potential applicants. Is this true?
65:20@lavan:how abt organizing events for school even if not a club leadership position
65:37@Luqmaan:How would being a semifinalist, finalist, etc. in something like the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards be considered?
66:03@Mt33:In general would a lack of significant extracurriculars be a really big turn off to addmission officers?
67:40@summerorbanwrites:Thank you again, it really helps!
67:43@lavan:Hi...not sure if my question is gng thru....i have organized a charity fundraiser for a foundation that supports indie bookstores thru my music concert.... i plan on doing more of this...... but i m not in a club in any leadership position..... how does this figure in the xtracurricular tiers? thanks!
68:39@marci:At elite colleges, to avoid an admission officer having a bad day and rejecting an application, every application is read by more than one officer. True?
88:25@obamajoemomma:with the luck component, aren't there multiple people (2+) verifying if someone should be admitted or not? wouldn't this eliminate the luck component since one person's bad day wouldn't override others' thoughts?
89:27@Airy:Yay :)
89:30@Luqmaan:How can you get interviews with college admissions officers? Are they available for juniors in HS?
89:38@obamajoemomma:Oh! thank you!
90:27@lavan:what if i want to apply or physcis but have been an ardent guitarist... will submitting a music portfolio help?
91:47@Airy:Are online programs, hackathons, or extracurriculars counted?
92:16@Emccun06e:What is the best way to present your extensive extracurricular activities on your résumé with out seeming too self involved?
94:16@mcj2185:I have had many illnesses, to the point where I missed 3 months of school and needed tutoring. This led to me being placed into lower-level math courses. Could this negatively affect me?
95:02@lavan:have standardized testing and colleges being test optional already been covered here?
96:11@obamajoemomma:what do the interviewers know before the interview. do they know blurbs about my activities, test scores, ethnic background, etc?
97:29@ParkerGauldin:How helpful is demonstrated interest?
98:55@Emccun06e:When is the best time to start getting letters of recommendation? Should you get them before junior year?
100:35@Emccun06e:What about college professors for letters of recommendation?
101:07@timw:With COVID last year, all classes were online. For a senior this year, isn't a sophomore year teacher somewhat more connected to the student and therefore a better recommender?
102:04@izziann:Hi! Does working with small companies/non-profits make an impact on applications? Even if the positions do not relate to the major you are applying with.
103:02@Airy:So if I won a hackathon or did an competition that allowed me to get an award, is it tier 1 or 2, and can we put it under activities?
103:52@izziann:Does all of the extracurriculars and activities on an application have to relate to the major that you are applying to?
104:31@ParkerGauldin:I have to go, but thank you so much for the help! Have a nice night
104:45@mcj2185:I'm in New York and haven't taken a single regents exam due to covid and illness as much does that really matter?
105:23@lavan:how do research under a college professor's guidance and or an internship compare to a club activity?
106:06@obamajoemomma:will schools ever revert back to test-required? if so, when do you predict that will occur?
107:53@lavan:Is it ok to skip submitting AP test score?
108:51@Mt33:Would writing about why you are interested in a specific major in your essay look attractive to admission officers?
111:02@summerorbanwrites:Bye Robert!
111:47@Airy:You’re welcome :)
111:49@mcj2185:Thank you!
113:05@RobertV1412:Thank you!!
113:36@Mt33:Much appreciated, Robert!!
114:21@Airy:Bye, thank you for the information!


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