Can you tell me the value of informational meetings such as

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Can you tell me the value of informational meetings such as
By Berurah (Berurah) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 07:40 pm: Edit

We live in the midwest, and my son plans to apply for early admission at Yale. We recently received an email that said that there would be an informational session held in Kansas City, approximately 3 hours away from us. From the perspective of those of you who have attended sessions such as these, do you find them worthwhile? Do they in any way increase one's chances of acceptance to a school, or are they primarily intended for information gathering of the students/parents? Does it help to meet face-to-face with someone from the admissions office, and do you even get a chance to do so at these? We are trying to decide whether or not it is worth six hours of driving on Sunday since his mind is already made up regarding his early admission choice. Thanks for any light you may be able to shed on this! ~berurah

By Thumper1 (Thumper1) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 07:51 pm: Edit

Have you already visited Yale? In my opinion that is much more valuable than attending an info session for a school one has already decided to apply to. We attended several info session held near here for schools that were far away. BUT we went to hear about admissions and to help DS decide whether or not to apply to the school. We went to one for Northwestern, for example. DS did meet with an alum who happened to be there (and had the same degree DS wished to pursue). In the end, DS did not apply to the school as the applied faculty on his instrument didn't appeal to him. The info session was like any other group info session....except it was not on the college campus. It did get him on their mailing lists!!

By Berurah (Berurah) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 07:59 pm: Edit


Thanks so much for the response! We have not been able to visit Yale...six kids, one income, well, need I say more? *lol* But, my son is dead set on that as his EA choice, and from what I've read, he'd fit in well there. I guess I'm asking whether meeting those alums and/or admissions officers might have any impact? Do you think it does? ~berurah

By Lamom (Lamom) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 08:21 pm: Edit

We went to one info session with 5 colleges. One or two were Ivy but I forgot all that attended, son went for Rice. It was packed, lots of kids tried to ask questions to impress the adcoms. Then mostly parents attacked the adcoms. We drove almost 2 hrs during the week-skipping dinner and fighting OC traffic, vowed never to attend another. But son was not dead set on any of the schools. Son did bring a smile to Rice Adcom, he really did want info on the mob. Did learn one valuable thing I believe Columbia adcom suggested that you ask your rec writer if "they feel comfortable writing a good rec". She felt that too many kids asked teachers who gave the best grade but did not necessarily know the student. Used that line on son's rec writers-son should have asked "will you write rec and send it to the college? not will you be able to write a good rec. Redlands accepted son before (or if) teacher ever sent it in, so really didn't matter.

The students that actually made an attempt to speak to the adcoms were few-so they probably were remembered-at least they got a card and e mail address.

Just too many parents for me.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 09:10 pm: Edit


I would say it's not worth traveling 3 hours for an info session. You can glean a lot from websites and if you have questions, you can contact the admission offices directly. They will understand that you cannot afford to visit or even travel to those info sessions.

By Coureur (Coureur) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 09:49 pm: Edit

I think the main things you can gain from an info session that you can't get from the website is to listen to and meet the adcom. And quite often it is the adcom member who deals with your geographic region. In other words, this is the first and main adcom who will read and judge your child's app. and make recommendations to the committee as a whole. It can be useful to hear what he/she looks for in an applicant and what, if any, quirks or unusual preferences they may have.

Whether these tidbits of knowledge are worth three hours of driving is uncertain.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 11:07 pm: Edit

Smaller colleges pay a lot of attention to what they call demonstrated interest -- visits, attendance at events like the one you describe and other communication. I'm not so sure that this kind of interaction counts for much at larger schools or schools with thousands of applicants -- like Yale -- although it couldn't hurt. Once your son applies, he will be able to set up an interview in your area either with an alum or a member of the adcom. This is a must.

Having said that, if I were in your position, I'd drive the three hours and attend the meeting. Applying EA is a big step (since it eliminates the option of playing the EA/ED card at any other school and may limit your ability to negotiate on financial aid) and it would be helpful learn more about this year's admission climate "from the horse's mouth." I know nothing about your son's qualifications and don't mean to belittle him, but when applying to schools like Yale a dose of reality is imperative as no one is guaranteed a place.

In other words, I don't think attendance at this event would increase your son's chance of admission, but it may help him and you decide whether or not applying EA is the best strategy for him.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 11:24 pm: Edit

When we visited Yale we were told that one advantage students from elite prep schools have is that the adcoms get to recognize their names, because they visit their schools so often. The adcom we spoke to suggested that it would be a very good idea to make sure an applicant's name became familiar to them. Ways to do this would be to attend the local info session, meet the adcom, introduce oneself and ask for a business card, and then follow up with the occasional very specific question by email. As Coureur says, the regional adcom is a good person to get to know. Of course, all this was before last year's EA deluge of applications. My s did not end up applying to Yale so I can't tell you whether the method worked, but I would be tempted to follow the adcom's advice.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 11:27 pm: Edit

You all are SO knowledgeable! I thank and each and every one of you for your input.

momrath...I have been following this site for a long time now. I really believe that my son has what it takes to be accepted to Yale (or any other Ivy), but it definitely appears to be a crapshoot. I suppose if we are pulling out all the stops to apply EA to Yale, it would probably be worth the time and effort to attend the session.

Also, could you elablorate a bit on how applying EA limits the ability to negotiate on financial aid?? We would definitely be in need of aid since we have six kids and one income currently.

Thanks to ALL of you for all of your excellent input! ~berurah

By Berurah (Berurah) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 11:30 pm: Edit


That's kind of what I was wanting to know...whether such a process contributed to an adcom's more personal knowledge of the prospective applicants. I think we will probably end up going. ~berurah

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 11:32 pm: Edit

Applying EA does not limit the ability to negotiate since you can still apply RD to other colleges and compare packages in April. For peace of mind, you can also apply to state universities with rolling admission deadlines if you apply EA. Check the EA school websites for specific details.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:36 am: Edit

Sorry my mistake. With EA you can still comparison shop.

By Xdad (Xdad) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:37 am: Edit

I would hesitate to drive 30 minutes for such a meeting. Before embarking on a six hours journey, I would inquire directly with the admission's office or with your local contact for Yale, and identify the representative who will travel to your area. Chances are that the traveling salesman will not ever, ever come close to your admission package. Do not count on demonstrated interest to have any impact at a school that receives tens of thousands of applications.

There is only one purpose for such meetings, and it is to generate more applications, not necessarily successful applications. If your interest is to find accurate and helpful information about the school and its admission process, you'll have to look somewhere else ... like this site.

Save yourself the trouble and the money.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 02:07 am: Edit


Thanks for clarifying the financial aid stuff. We are still planning to apply RD to quite a few other places, so that makes me feel better!


Below is the text of the email we sounds like the representative is supposed to be an Assistant Director of Admissions. Does it read that way to you? I have such an incredibly busy life with six kids (three of whom are currently involved in musical theatre productions!) that I want to make sure a trip like that is time well spent if we do decide to go.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions cordially invites you to attend one of the following Programs on Yale. Jeremiah Quinlan, Assistant Director of Admissions, with [sic] discuss academic programs, campus life, admissions and
financial aid.

Sunday, September 12, 2004 at 3:00 p.m.
Kansas City Public Library- Southeast Branch
6242 Swope Parkway
Kansas City, Missouri 64130

Wednesday, September 15 , 2004 at 7:00 p.m.
Clayton High School Commons
1 Mark Twain Circle
St. Louis, Missouri 63105

Bring your parents and friends. There is no need to RSVP.
Hope to see you there!

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 08:37 am: Edit

Yale was only school that held a meeting in my town. We missed it, but S's friend said it was so packed, no real chance to talk to adcom. Still, kids get a notion in their heads about one school, and, especially as your child wants EA, could bring reality into focus.
We did go to a meeting (only 1), that was 1 1/2 hours away. There was plenty of time to speak to adcom and alum, and my S will be attending this school. He was a junior at the time, so his interest and Qs were more along lines of 'would this school fit me?' than trying to make impression. Also, most of the vocal kids there were all from a math/sci magnet school. I asked my S, "Would u want to live with these people 24/7?" Lots of people asked Qs during the talk, my S waited until after. What was useful is that my S referred to tidbits from the meeting in his essay.
So, I have mixed feelings about usefulness. In your situation, I might e-mail Yale, learn about usual attendance rate, inquire if there is an alumni in the area that he could talk to, etc. You could make a more informed decision, as well as demonstrate strong interest. JMO

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 09:10 am: Edit

I have to echo xdad's comments here. It's unlikely that the individual conducting these meetings will ever see your child's application. I have two friends who are adcoms and who occasionally fill in for these info sessions. They are both in the senior ranks in their respective offices and it is usually either the very junior officers who do these sessions, or occasionally, the very senior. Either way, most apps will be in the reject pile before these individuals are involved in the decision-making process, if they are at all. The fact that this person has the Assistant Director of Admissions title shouldn't fool anyone (but it often does). In many offices, everyone who works there goes by a title similar to this. It does not imply that he is a senior Admissions officer. It's like those who work in a bank and know that everyone at the beginning levels of management is designated as a vice-president. :) If it were in your town, or within a short drive, I'd go. In this case, I wouldn't. Six hours for one of these meetings is too much, especially with the sounds of your busy household.

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 09:36 am: Edit

I have to agree with Xdad. Demonstrated interest does not weigh with Yale.

Your S could get into direct contact with the regional adcom via email and speak directly about his interests.

My S and I went to an info session that was conducted by an adcom (not even the regional adcom). We asked a question about recs and got the standard answer which was not particularly helpful in my S's case (hence my query). My S emailed the director of admissions and got a non-standard answer that addressed his specific situation.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 09:42 am: Edit

Xdad, I have to disagree as a parent from a public school. I know Xiggi went to the school in our area where just about every elite held at least one of their sessions. It's not so easy for the rest of us. My son's high school doesn't fit the profile of our district in general. Our district is not on the radar for many of those schools, so even though many of the kids in my son's school have the stats, they have to strike out on their own, and these sessions, many of which were 45 minutes away for us were our only contact other than campus visits with these schools. The district college fair is very crowded, and once again, because our district isn't heavily recruited, the elites have a very small presence.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 09:43 am: Edit

My last sentence should have read, "heavily recruited by the elites"

By Dadx (Dadx) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 09:45 am: Edit

Heres what I would do. Send an email to the named rep with regrets that you cannot attend because of the distance, and expressing BRIEFLY your regrets and interest in Yale as your first choice EA school.

Sign it with your name and your high school name and your town, so that he can remember you just a bit. That will probably help every bit as much as attending, he will have a lasting paper trail of your brief response, and he will probably remember you better than if you attended. It also removes the possibility of making a less than outstanding personal impression. I am beginning to thing that if you have unusually good stats and scores and write a good application, the most likely thing to happen during personal contacts and intersviews is that you somehow diminish what they otherwise would have seen. I guess this would be translated as "If you're great on paper, only show up in person at your own risk"

I frankly don't think the demonstrated interest means anything to the HYPSM group. They know you're probably coming if they admit you. I also think the more interest you try to demonstrate, the greater risk you run of being outright rejected early if you are annoying the admissions person. I believe Rachel Toor made the comment about doing this in her book. There are a remarkable number of people at those schools who were accepted without visiting them.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 10:26 am: Edit

I am writing specifically about Yale, and I can tell you that the adcom who gave our local info session stated uncategorically that she would be reviewing my d's application should she apply. (I have two kids who were both interested at different times; sorry if this gets confusing.) My d had some supplementary material which the adcom clearly said she herself would be sitting down and viewing at her own desk. So...I don't think this is about demonstrating interest, so much as making a connection with an individual.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 10:30 am: Edit

I live in a fairly isolated location in which it's rare that we get informational meetings in our own city. If my child were planning to apply EA, I would find it worth it to travel 3 hours to an informational session. This particularly would be true if my child were not able to visit the school in person before applying EA.

I think that EA is a big decision, and it helps for the student and family to make the decision with all of the information that they possibly can get.

When it comes to places like HPY, demonstrated interest does not factor into the admissions' offices decisions. However, I know that at least in the case of H, the adcoms are alums, and talking to adcoms in person does give one at least some idea about what the people are like who attend such a school.

I also think that when it comes to getting answers to questions, it's easier to do this at an informational meeting than to get the information by calling or e-mailing the adcoms. At least when it comes to H, I think that adcoms respond quickly to e-mails and calls. However, I think that because of the demands on their time when they are in their offices, one is likely to get a more in-depth answer when asking thoughtful questions in person.

I am making the assumption, that the student/family would already have read the college's web site, so would not be asking the routine question ssuch as, "Do I have to take the SAT II?"

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 10:36 am: Edit

I think we can all agree that establishing a personal contact with an adcom is desirable.
The question is: does it have to be face to face contact? Can it be through email? If face to face contact is desirable, is it worth a 6 hour round-trip? Remember, there are other children in the family, presumably all younger.
Would it be worth it for Berurah's D to reply to the invitation by declining on grounds of distance and ask whether there is a alumnus closer by whom she can contact for more info?

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 10:45 am: Edit

This is the regional adcom's name and contact info, cut and pasted from the Yale website:

Jeremiah Quinlan
Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York (Rockland), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia

He clearly has a vast area to cover. But it would be worth contacting him directly.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:01 am: Edit

If a person is planning to apply EA or ED, I think it is to their advantage to try to get to visit the college in person -- whether or not they can see the adcom during the visit. I think that EA/ED is such a big decision, that unless a visit would cause an applicant financial hardship, I think they should visit the college before applying.

As for seeing an adcom in person versus e-mail or a telephone call: As is true in virtually any situation, an in person communication offers more chance to get to know and to impress the other person. Remember, too, lots of information that people gather and lots of the impressions that are made on people are due to nonverbal communication.

As for the trip, IMO the OP is lucky that the informational session is held on a Sun., which is an easy day on which to travel. All but one of the out of town info sessions that my S has been invited to have occurred on weekdays, which have made them virtually impossible to get to. If he were, however, a senior applying EA/ED, we would find a way to get him to those sessions, however.

Those of you who live in big cities have no idea how lucky you are that you may have to travel just 30-40 mins. to get to an info session! The same is true of those who have excellent colleges within just a couple-hours drive.

The closest top 25-school to us is a 5-hour drive. The next closest is about a 12-hour drive. Most are at least a 20-hour drive away. That's why the thought of a 6-hour roundtrip to an info session sounds doable to me. Next month, we will be driving 10-hours roundtrip and spending the night to take S to an info session that, thankfully, is on a Saturday.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:16 am: Edit


Yes, that is the name listed on the email as the visiting adcom. Thanks so much for getting that info. for me.


I like your suggestion for contacting an alum who is closer to us geographically. You are right in that the other five kids are younger--this is my first experience with the college process! Which leads me to my next question for you, Marite...will you be my personal mentor through this whole thing?? *lol* You know SO much!!! :-) is good to know the truth about the useless of demonstrated interest as a factor in admission. Shoot, if desire, hope, wishes, etc. could do it, my son would be at the top of the list!!!!!! He really, really wants this. And you are right~we have read a great deal about Yale and have a good working knowledge about all the basics.

Dadx--I think you idea sounds like a wonderful alternative if we decide not to go. Thanks for the wonderful suggestion.


We are in a fairly small, rural-type district. We are not typically recruited by the elites either and not only that, our local counselors/advisors tend to only push the LACs. I am always amazed at the end of each school year when nearly each and every valedictorian announces his/her intention to attend an in-state college, often not even a state college.


By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:17 am: Edit

Agree with Northstarmom that in person is the way to go. However, any student needs to know that nothing magical will happen as a result of his or her mere presence at the session. It will be up to him to take the initiative to go up and speak to the adcom afterward, to convey enthusiasm and energy, and to follow up later on. It is also helpful to ask only those questions that make it clear that the student has done his homework about the school and is looking for a deeper understanding of a specific program or area in which he is very interested and well prepared.

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:28 am: Edit


You are very welcome, but there are many other posters who are very knowledgeable on CC, including some who have responded to you. As you can see, we have a range of experiences and opinions. I'm sure everybody will be happy to help with advice.
I apologize for not reading your original post more carefully. One thing I had not picked up on: you said your S has already decided on Yale as his early admission choice. In that case, it might be well worth his while to introduce himself in person to the adcom. Presumably, your S is not too shy to do so, although some are more articulate on paper.
Still, my older S was admitted to a highly selective college which he had not visited, so if you cannot make the trip, don't feel badly about it.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:37 am: Edit

Being in a small, rural village in the Midwest will work to your son's advantage as it is very difficult for places like Yale to recruit students from such areas. Students living in such areas are as desired as are underrepresented minorities and low income students.

While in general demonstrated interest doesn't tip students into a place like HPY, I am sure that the adcom is looking for students like your son to encourage them to apply and to also accept admission. Even when students from areas like yours apply, they are more likely than are students from places like Chicago, Boston and NYC to turn down HPY for places like the local state university.

I can not recommend more strongly that your son not only attend, but that he sit up front and ask questions that reveal he has thorougly examined Yale's web site. If he is a shy person, role play this in advance so that he can do this. Any student who does this will stand out. That particularly would be true of students from rural areas since they in general are less agressive than are the big city students.

A question that admissions at HYP will have about any student is whether the student has the strength of character to wisthstand the assertive, intense environment of an Ivy. No matter how bright a student is, if they are so passive that being at an Ivy might crush them, they aren't going to be admitted. Ivies aren't the place for everyone.

There are shy students at Ivies, however. I was one! However, the shy students need to be able tp put aside their shyness to do things like take advantage of the academic and extracurricular opportunities the school offers. An adcom might wonder if a student too shy to ask questions at an info session would be too shy to ask questions in class.

It also would be good if in asking questions, he mentions that he lives 3 hours away in a small rural that doesn't send many people to places like Yale. His going up to the adcom and asking a few thoughtful follow-up questions also will make him stand out.

Your son also should send by snail mail a thoughtful thank-you note to the adcom, expressing specific thanks for new info that the session taught him about Yale, and that reinforced his interest in applying ED.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:46 am: Edit


My son HAS already made up his mind to apply EA to Yale (see the first post above). I do not think that this meeting will change his mind one way or the other, though I suppose you never know....I only wish we had the opportunity to visit each and every college in which he has a demonstrated interest.

My son is extremely outgoing and confident. He would have absolutely no reticence regarding approaching someone/introducing himself. If he were given the opportunity, he'd be the first in line! He also tends to give a very positive first impression. Last summer, he competed for a very prestigious law internship and was extremely well-received by the entire panel of interviewers. In fact, several of them wanted him to work in their own offices! *lol*

BTW, I was, of course, not diminishing anyone else's contributions to this thread. It's just that I've lurked on this site for a long time and always find what you have to say extremely interesting and informative! I really appreciate EVERYONE'S input!


By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:47 am: Edit


LOL! You see that NSM has a different take from mine, and she is very experienced! I do agree completely with her about the attractiveness of a student from a rural area. Such students can be even more difficult to recruit than urban URMs (under-represented minorities) and can add a very welcome perspective to classes full of students from urban backgrounds.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:51 am: Edit


Thanks so much for the EXCELLENT information. I was wondering if there were advantages stemming from living in a small, rural area. I SO agree with you regarding the choices of most students in this area (I talked about this in one of my posts above). Even the valedictorians from the exclusive, private schools near here all end up staying in the area! I am so perplexed by this!

Your suggestions are EXCEEDINGLY helpful. Thank you so much for you input!!!!


By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:04 pm: Edit


I think we will be attending the session tomorrow. I'd rather err on that side. I guess I have come to the conclusion that there is really nothing to lose (but a little time) and possibly much to gain.


By Mimk6 (Mimk6) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:32 pm: Edit

I don't think these things help much for admission -- but it may depend on how many show up. We went to one for Stanford and there were hundreds of people present -- there was no way anyone was going to make an impression on anyone. But they gave advice on the application process -- what they are looking for and that in itself may be helpful.

By Anxiousmom (Anxiousmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:47 pm: Edit

Just don't weigh too heavily the personality of the adcom or info presenter. Sometimes kids get a bad impression of a school because of the (negative) personality of the presenter/adcom - when the school itself would be a great fit for the student.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:55 pm: Edit

I think it's easy to be noted by the adcoms if one is in a category that they are hoping to recruit. We have gone to info sessions at colleges, in which there have been hundreds of people present. We have managed to talk to adcoms after sessions, and have seen adcoms write down info about S, and give S their cards telling him to stay in touch.

We are obviously URMS, so that helps us stand out. In talking to the adcoms after sessions, I also have made sure that they knew that S is in an IB program. At first S cringed when I did this, but he saw adcoms go out of their way to be nice to him, so he realized that they wanted such info.

This has included an adcom at a top 30 school that walked us to our car. An adcom at top 25 university gave us merit aid information that was not available on their web site.

Thus, with the OP, it will be important for the S to make sure that the adcom knows that he is a top student who comes from a rural place that sends few students to Ivies. The adcom will pay particular attention to him even though most of the other students will probably not be remembered.

I suggest that S stand out by also standing up to ask his thoughtful question, and introducing himself by expressing appreciation for the info session since he comes from a small, rural place that doesn't send people to Ivies.

If Y is like H, they really scrutinize their EA applicants, too. H only gives EAs to applicants that H knows would be accepted once the regular admissions applications are filed. Thus, applying EA does not tip applicants in. For H, one-third of EA applicants are accepted, but that's because the pool is so much stronger. I have seen amazingly wonderful EA applicants deferred. Some get later acceptances, some don't.

My guess is that a top student from a rural area would be more likely to get an EA admission than would an equally excellent student from an urban area because of the scarcity of rural applicants.

I think that the rural advantage will help your S at other Ivies, particularly those like Harvard and Columbia that are in urban areas. It is very hard for urban universities to attract students from rural areas.Cities really scare many rural students and their families.

Incidentally, some less selective schools such as University of Minnesota Twin Cities have special merit aid for students from rural areas.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:56 pm: Edit


Can you tell me if you lived in a rural area when you attended the Stanford presentation? I am wondering if I can expect hundreds of people at this thing, especially if they are having it at a public library! Yikes!

Anxiousmom--first of all, I have to say that I love your username! *lol* Can I have it!?!? *L* And secondly, I think you make an *excellent* point!


By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:10 pm: Edit


I was just wondering if the fairly isolated area you live in happens to be in the midwest? You are so completely right on about your assessments on rural areas. We are unusual in a way. I have always lived in big citites before our tenure here. I am from Austin, Texas, went to undergraduate school in Miami, back to Austin for my masters, and then went on to live in Orlando, St. Louis, DFW, etc. So, we brought to this rural area a big-city mentality. (It drove me absolutely NUTS living here at first!!!!!!!!). So, even though we reside here, our mentality is VERY different from the majority of native dwellers. It has really been an interesting education living here!

Do you mind my asking where your son attends school?


By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:12 pm: Edit

Oh, and Northstarmom?

I find what you said about EA applicants VERY interesting. So, it is really not "easier" to get in EA...even though the percentage of acceptance shows a higher number. Why do you think the applicants tend to be so much stronger with EA? Just wondering....


By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:19 pm: Edit

I am not in the Midwest (I won't get more specific for privacy reasons), but lived in Detroit for 7 years, and was an alumni interviewer for Harvard, and also helped with their info sessions.

My older son turned down two top 25s for University of Minnesota, which he chose because he loves the Midwest and is a big hockey fan. The reasons for his decision reflect his feelings about academics. They also gave him wonderful merit aid.

My younger son is a junior and wants to go to an academically strong, diverse university out of state. I am guessing that he might go anywhere except Alaska, Hawaii or the Pacific NW. He's very open.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:26 pm: Edit

The strongest applicants apply EA because they are the strongest applicants and don't need more ECs, coursework, etc. fall semester to strengthen their applications.

They also tend to be students who are exceptionally well organized, which means that they have the ability to get EA applications in in time. From what I have seen, many more students plan to apply EA than manage to get their applications in.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:28 pm: Edit


Your son's choice is very interesting. I'm glad that he found a place that he loves and that he chose it for all the right reasons. I would love for my son to choose a place that would offer him great merit aid!! *lol*

It will be interesting to see where your younger son chooses to go. He is lucky to have such a knowledgeable mom to help him with the exploration.

BTW, do you know how the kids typically dress for these sessions?? Should he go with something a bit nicer, or perhaps a YALE shirt!?!? *l*

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:30 pm: Edit

northstarmom...yes,I can see what you're saying about EA. It actually makes me feel better about EA for my son. He is pretty well set for it in every way.


By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 01:40 pm: Edit

Kids dress at the session ranges from T-shirts and jeans to suits. My suggestion is something like a polo shirt and slacks and a belt.

Wearing a Yale shirt would be fine, too. I don't suggest wearing a Harvard shirt. ;)

Your S also might consider wearing a shirt from his rural h.s., which also would make him stand out in a good way.

The informational sessions are less formal than are interviews, where business casual would be appropriate. S's dress won't be particularly important. His asking thoughtful questions at the session will be, however.

Most of the people asking questions are likely to be parents. Most of the questions also probably will reflect little knowledge of the university. Students asking truly thoughtful questions will stand out.

By Over30 (Over30) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 02:00 pm: Edit

Something my son found useful in later filling out his app's was to take notes during the info sessions, writing down the things the presenter says the school is looking for. He was then able to incorporate some of this into his application or essays. Seemed to work for him.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 02:10 pm: Edit


Great idea!! We'll definitely be taking notes!


*lol* about the Harvard shirt! (We don't actually even have a Yale one....but the h.s. shirt idea sounds like a nice idea!)

Also, can you give me a few examples of what you consider to be thoughtful questions?

Thanks SO much! ~berurah

By Jenskate1 (Jenskate1) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 02:32 pm: Edit

I would definitely go. The adcom I met at my info session for the college I am now attending ended up also being the adcom who visited my high school a year later (and remembered me!) and also read my app. I think the meeting was well worth it. It also helped convince my mom that although the school was thousands of miles from my home, it would be a good fit for me.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 02:56 pm: Edit


That is very cool the way it worked out in your case in that the adcom later came to your school (and remembered you!!). I'm not too crazy about the distance thing either, but I figure it's my son's decision to make ultimately....Thanks so much for you input!


By Xdad (Xdad) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 03:11 pm: Edit

Berurah, since you have decided to attend the session, it would be most instructional for all the other parents to read about your impressions.

It would also be interesting to be able to compare notes about the value of having contacts with the adcoms with the parents who went through the Yale EA application process (TheDad, SoozieVT, EAdad among others) and hear from CC students who are currently attending (Tropicanabanana, Candi, etc).

I have to admit that, based on an informal poll of friends and family who had children applying, and based on conversation with friends who are interviewers or regional representatives, I have become extremely biased AGAINST the value of repeated contacts with school reps. My conclusion is that there is a huge downside to openly courting and seek contacts. The opposite is obvioulsy true when the courting is done by the school!

I also believe that most people who pretend to play a role in the admission decisions, especially alumni interviewers, are grossly glorifying their role, as well as their knowledge of the admission process. I have reached the conclusion that most of the successful applicants did not have an interview and had very limited contact with their first choice school.

In the particular case of Yale, I believe that an admission requires the unanimity of a committee composed of 4-5 members. In my opinion, because of the subjective nature of human contacts, every contact represents an additional and dangerous possibility to earn a strike against your application.

My take: I would rely exclusively on direct contact with salaried representatives of the school on school premises, and rely on written communication. One last thing, do not hesitate to ask the school for assistance in covering the costs of visiting the campus. Schools have dedicated budgets for most classes of applicants.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 03:26 pm: Edit


I really, really want to thank you for your input. I am SO intrigued by your feeling that personal contact presents an opportunity for a negative strike. I can completely understand what you are saying. Interestingly, my son tends to be the kind of person that people develop very strong feelings about. He tends to be outgoing and outspoken, which people either tend to love or be aggravated by...Thankfully, he is VERY well loved and respected at the h.s. he attends (by both school personnel and students). I can definitely see the risk one might be taking with repeated contact with an adcom. VERY interesting viewpoint...

If we do end up going, I will DEFINITELY report back on our impressions!


By Momsdream (Momsdream) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 03:29 pm: Edit

Wow Xdad....

". I have reached the conclusion that most of the successful applicants did not have an interview and had very limited contact with their first choice school."

If this is true, what does it say about those students who are sure of their choice and are reaching out to the school on a regular basis (because they are honestly interested)? They're less successful? Is this because the more "successful" applicants are more casual about the application process?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 03:42 pm: Edit

From what I have seen on-line, my impression is that a lot of students who e-mail and call adcoms are doing this simply to try to seem interested. Somewhere they heard that some schools pay attention to contacts, and consequently, the students start literally badgering adcoms just to seem interested.

We see such students posting on CC asking what they should do to be in regular contact with adcoms.

I would bet that adcoms are irritated by students who do this particularly when the point of the communication is simply to say, "I'm still interested" or is to ask a question that the web site already answers. I bet this is also true of students who call for absolutely no reason than to have the adcom hear their voice.

Students who e-mail adcoms with important updates about their applications or with questions that are not answered on the web site, however, probably are welcomed by adcoms.

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 03:55 pm: Edit

I am sure adcoms can tell the difference between a student who is trying to get attention and one who is genuinely seeking information. Frankly, most of the students who are admitted to the schools in question are very busy kids. They don't have time to sit around composing unnecessary emails to adcoms. With all their ECs and academics, they hardly even have time to fill out the app.

However, when a student really wants to know something, adcoms can be very responsive. For example, my d was interested in applying to one highly selective school where she was worried there might be a lack of community. She emailed her regional adcom and asked tactfully about community there. This person took an enormous amount of time with her, having current students email about their experiences on campus, inviting her to write again, etc. My d was genuinely touched and wrote back with a heartfelt thank you. Although she ultimately applied elsewhere ED, I have no doubt that this adcom would have remembered her favorably.

These contacts can and should be genuinely useful to the student. At another highly selective school, my d wrote to the regional adcom to ask whether to send in a video or photographs demonstrating her main EC. The adcom wrote back to say that there was no one on campus who could evaluate it professionally and there was no real point in sending it. This was extremely revealing and useful to my d, who realized that her EC was not going to help her in gaining admission to this particular school, and that although this school claimed to have classes in her EC, these were really very basic and not adequate for her. She did not apply.

By Xdad (Xdad) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 04:11 pm: Edit

Momsdream, I apologize if my post gave the wrong impression about my opinion of contacting the school.

I could not have said it better Northstarmom: it depends on the nature of the inquiry. Bona fide requests for information are important and are not negative at all. Also, students with particular interests should not hesitate to contact the faculty directly to express their interest or ask questions. I also tend to believe that contacts should be initiated by the students. This does not mean that parents should refrain to be involved in the process, but I believe that moderate supervision will pay higher dividends.

By Eadad (Eadad) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 07:48 pm: Edit


Having attended 4 Yale info sessions over two years during our son's process I can tell you that they are all crowded to the point of overcrowded. There is little or no opportunity for interaction unless you stand in a long line after the session and get your minute. They didn't even have registration cards at any session (except the one at Yale) to see who was in attendance which reinforces the fact that demonstrated interest is not a factor there.

What I can tell you: that it will be emphatically stated that the essays are perhaps the most important part of the Yale application.

They repeatedly state that the essays are your one shot to "bring yourself to life." Another thing is that they "STRONGLY RECOMMEND" having an interview if at all possible (even more importantly for EA) and they stress over and over to follow directions.

DO NOT submit anything more than what they ask for (they said that the thicker files go to the bottom) and only submit a supplemental rec if it is by someone who knows the student in a completely different light and can shed information about them that their teachers or college counselors can't.

My son was admitted to Yale EA last year and right after his admission the college counselors at his school received a call from the regional rep talking about his application and essays. Shortly after that he also got a call and a letter from her again talking about his essays.

My advice: pay alot of attention to the essays, he should make them his voice and allow them to have some insight into who the person is behind the numbers they are looking at.

In response to the interview comments above, I learned AFTER my son had been accepted, that Yale relies HEAVILY on the interview to corroborate the information they already have,which also allows them to ascertain if there is any resume building going on.

They are very big on students being passionate about something and not just being "joiners." My son's interview lasted far longer than he had thought it would and really became a lengthy discussion after the preliminary part of the interview was over.

I'm glad I didn't know about it before because we already had high enough anxiety around here between Thanksgiving and December 15th since he was one of six at his school applying to Yale SCEA. He was one of three who were admitted EA, two were deferred and later admitted RD and two more were admitted RD for a total of 7 out of a class of 82.

Good Luck

By Eadad (Eadad) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 08:43 pm: Edit

One additional thing; the information about the importance of the interview did not come from an alumni interviewer. It came from someone who at one time was very familiar with the admissions process at Yale but was no longer in that loop. As I also stated, we learned about it AFTER he was admitted.

All applications are read a minimum of two times and scored by each reader. Yale rates all applicants on a 1-5 scale. Two readers scoring 5s never see the committee and are considered auto admits, a 5/4 is an admit with discussion before the committee, Any combo of 3s are full committee decisions, 2s are decline with discussions before the committee and 1s are auto declines.

Students are ranked within their states, cities and schools (despite what they tell you) and points are given to Essays,SATs, GPA, Class rank,Interviews,etc.

As I said before, I am really glad that I didn't learn about this until after he was admitted because the already high stress level would have been even higher.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 08:46 pm: Edit

Berurah, Who could forget the name Jeremiah Quinlan? He was my son's on campus interviewer two years ago! At the time JQ was a Yale upperclassman. I'll tell you a funny story. We were visiting several Connecticut colleges so we decided to stay at a resort-ish hotel on the Sound. The night before the Yale interview the local community had an old fashioned band concert which we attended. The next day, in conversation with JQ, my son learned that his interviewer was a member of that band. It was a wonderful ice breaker.

The other nice thing that happened at Yale was while we were waiting for our son in the adcom office, the top admissions guy (I don't remember his name) came out to talk to us about our son's highschool. Again a wonderful personal touch.

In all the Yale visit was one of the best on all fronts, interview, tour, info session, follow up. At the time, Yale was ED. They said that "statistically there was no advantage to applying ED." In the end our son applied, was accepted and now attends another college, so he never did find out whether Yale would have had him. (It would have been a significant reach.)

I'm sure at this point you'll have to go to the info session just to find out for yourselves! I can tell you that Jeremiah Quinlan is a charming and personable young man. He and my son "spoke" by e-mail several times after the interview. Your son should be one of those who crowd to the front to make a personal connection. He should introduce himself, try to squeeze in a one liner that identifies his persona, get his namecard and initiate an e-mail communication.

By Lefthandofdog (Lefthandofdog) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 09:16 pm: Edit

Just to add to the many opinions you've gotten - since this is your first experience with college admissions, it will probably benefit you and your son to attend. I agree it won't help his application and it's unlikely it will hurt it. It will give your son a chance to see how the school represents itself. You might find you've driven six hours for very little useful or new information, but you'll never know unless you go. One thing I would caution - don't judge the Yale student body on the basis of the kids you see at this meeting. The odds are against most of them being accepted, and a situation where kids might feel they need to be noticed doesn't always show people at their best. Kids get the chance after they're admitted and attend Bulldog days to see what their prospective fellow students are like. I wish you the best of luck and hope you report back on it.

By Berurah (Berurah) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 12:36 pm: Edit


I found your information to be extremely helpful!! After I read what you had to say, I had a long discussion with my son. We have decided that we will likely not attempt to attend the information session, but rather establish contact with Mr. Quinlan via email. There are many factors that came into play, but ultimately, what with my son's extremely packed schedule (full honors/AP schedule plus a 5-credit-hour college course, debate, cross country, etc.), he had so many things to accomplish today that he felt it would be difficult to be gone all day (especially with only a slim chance of our actually getting to meet/converse with the adcom).

Your application information was invaluable! Thank you so very much for offering us the benefit of your experience! :-)


By Reidmc (Reidmc) on Sunday, September 12, 2004 - 10:43 pm: Edit

It is my understanding that the these public info sessions for highly selective schools are very crowded. (In some communities, a signficant chunk of the crowd is parents of middle-schoolers!)

However, since the presenter is a admissions staffer, one strategy might be to go, and then follow up with an e-mail thanking the presenter for his effective presentation of the school and asking a significant question that was not covered in the session or in available materials. You might even get some extra credit for the 3-hour drive that way, (though I would be pretty subtle with that, or leave it to him to figure out.)

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 07:31 pm: Edit

I admit to no knowledge about Yale or EA. However, reading through this thread brought two additional thoughts into my mind.

1. JQ: two years from an upperclassman to Assistant Director of Admissions underlines the point made about titles.

2. Northstarmom said: "I think it's easy to be noted by the adcoms if one is in a category that they are hoping to recruit." This gentleman has a lot of states to cover that are relatively non-urban (as a compensation for which he's been given Rockland County) and very likely needs to flush out some good students from rural areas to make his contribution (and his reputation) at the admissions office. So a really good rural-origin student who wants to apply to Yale EA (and who, we assume, has or will have the necessary basic qualifications in the way of test scores, grades, essays, recommendations, etc.) could be a help to him, as well as a comparatively unusual applicant/URM for the school overall.

Seems to me that making the cramped presentation may not be a good thing but finding some other way to get into contact with JQ could be quite productive. Perhaps Eadad can comment.

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