What the First Round of College Admissions Decisions Told Us

February 12, 2014

The Huffington Post reported last month what we can take away from the first round of admissions decisions. Patrick O’Connor, Associate Dean of College Counseling at Cranbrook-Kingswood School, says this about test scores:

High test scores may yield merit scholarships once a student is admitted, but getting the “Yes!” is going to take more than numbers. Highly selective schools have regularly said they turn down students with perfect test scores whose essays are bland and whose activities are empty.

O’Connor recommends current juniors do the following to choose which colleges to apply to:

  • At the beginning of senior year, you should have a list of 6-8 colleges you’re interested in.
  • Three of them should be schools where your GPA and test scores are at or above the college’s average. These should be colleges you would like to go to.
  • Two should be close to home, in case you need to be close to home after high school
  • Two should, if possible, require little financial assistance.
  • Follow your passions in innovative ways in and out of your classes
  • If your dream or reach schools have an average test score higher than your test score, take the test again.
  • Remember that, in most cases, a student will not get a higher test score after taking it twice, unless the student devotes significant time and energy to test preparation—and even then, the result may not change greatly.

To improve your college essays, use our essays as inspiration for how to handle a particularly difficult topic or for writing style guidance.



Browse Successful Application Files

jpm13
Rochester ‘20


Accepted to Rochester, Rutgers, Fordham, College of NJ, Drexel

Hey! I'm a freshman at University of Rochester Class of 2020 interested in double majoring in Biology and Spanish, eventually applying to med school. I'm passionate about studying science, doing research and learning new languages.
FeartheLee
Stanford ‘19


Accepted to Stanford, Williams, Brown, Pomona, Duke, Bard, Kenyon

Stanford 2019, creative writing and education. Full essays! "Lopsided," less-than-stellar numbers.
littlegreentre…
Stanford ‘19


Accepted to Stanford, Cambridge, Princeton, Yale, Brown, UPenn, Columbia, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Swarthmore, Barnard, Wellesley, Duke, NYU, BU

overly ambitious, passionately curious, helplessly perfectionistic
niustephanie
Stanford ‘19


Accepted to Stanford, MIT, GA Tech

STEM outreach enthusiast. Poet. Programmer. Advocate for women in STEM.

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