After spending a decade reading applications for admission; I knew it would be a challenge to help even qualified students earn offers of admission at highly selective institutions.
And, it was. Yes, 90% of my clients were thrilled with their results; but it was eye opening watching the agony some of these students go through as they (and their families) seek absolute truths. They yearn for GPA + SAT = OFFER type answers.
The truth is – different admissions officers interpret things differently. In my experience it was not uncommon for one reader to find an application compelling and another to find it arrogant. And readers often change from year to year – so decision patterns are impossible.
The review process is subjective. Generally speaking, admissions officers are provided a group of institutional priorities. These priorities are based on the institution’s leadership and board’s decisions about how they hope to build their student community. They serve as guides and then admissions officers (people) make decisions like people do – with all of the life experiences and biases that come with them. Further, the person who read applications in Long Island this year, very likely will not next year (it’s a lot of work!).
So it is imperative you have a plan to deliver your story – or as they say, leave the answer blowing in the wind.