The Gatekeepers

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: February 2003 Archive: The Gatekeepers
By cookie on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 10:48 pm: Edit

What do you guys think about it?

By a on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 11:10 pm: Edit

Great book, great school. Fascinating. BUY IT! By the way, Wesleyan is a lot harder to get into now than when it was published, if you can believe it. The SAT average is now 1410.

By cookie on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 11:15 pm: Edit

wow... it's a great school!

By Ron on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 12:56 am: Edit

I loved the book and it made me apply there last minute! How hard is it now? my friend applied Ed there and got defered w/ pretty good stats. Like comparable to Washu or Georgetown's selectivity or like Amherst's selectivity or?

By Ron on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 12:57 am: Edit

I wish there was an even more up to date book just like that one--it made me want to work in an admissions office...anyone else feel that way?

By a on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 02:04 am: Edit

Harder than washu and georgetown, a tiny bit below amherst.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 03:20 am: Edit

Ron, I know the feeling.

The book was a bit touch-feely for my tastes but the anecdotal longitudinal tracking was the best of that sort of thing that I've read from an Admissions Offcier's point of view. More up to date, though? It was just published last year. Going to be hard to beat that for a while. It makes a nice pairing with Bill Paul's GETTING IN, which follows several applicants more from the outside, occasionally cutting in to Princeton's admissions process but not in terms of the specific students.

Overall, I think I like A IS FOR ADMISSION by Michele Hernandez as the single most useful book that I've read on the subject of highly competitive admissions. It's given me the serenity to deal with a highly uncertain process.

Of course, at this point it puts me simply into waiting out next four months to see how some my daughter passes some major milestones: two SAT II's, incl. Math IIc, two AP's, and the critical second semester junior grades...her school does ranks by percentages-- top 1%, top 3%, top 5%, top 10%--which kinda sucks anyway and she'll be either in the top 3% or top 5% depending on whether or not she gets a "B" in any course.

By a on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 09:31 am: Edit

Great book. Anyone appyling/ attending Wesleyan this year? Stats? I'm curious.

By bump on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 10:26 pm: Edit


By Lucky (Lucky) on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 10:42 pm: Edit

I met Michele Hernandez this year during an adcom meeting (for those of you that haven't read _A Is For Admission_, she was an admissions counselor at Dartmouth). She talked briefly to each of us interns, offered her advice on what to look for when sorting the apps and gave each of us an autographed copy of her book. She really showed us the "human" side to admissions that few people see in the process.


By justwonderin on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 10:43 pm: Edit

What do you mean when you say human, Lucky?

By Thedad (Thedad) on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 01:31 am: Edit

I'd guess Lucky means looking beyond the numbers at the intangibles and the whole person, what they
would add to the campus community.

Side note: funny, but some of the numbers geeks
who complain about affirmative action would be
s.o.l. on a lot of scales, such as "adds to
campus community."

By a on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 02:20 pm: Edit


By Lucky (Lucky) on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 02:26 pm: Edit

Thedad, you've got it down. What I also meant by Ms. Hernandez showing the "human" side to the college application process was partially literal; people talk about the "AdCom" and it is often forgotten that these Admissions Committees are made up of individual people. It is not just a mechanical process as it might seem to be to those of us on the outside.


By a on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 05:57 pm: Edit

what's wesleyan like now?

By wes on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 09:40 pm: Edit


By Ron on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 11:35 pm: Edit

Yea, A is for Admission changed my entire perspective on the admissions process. But is it that accurate any more? I know it is probabaly the most up-to-date material considering as how it has stats form 2001 and Gatekeepers is based mainly on 2000, but when looking on this site, and even evaluating my peers, I wonder, I mean they are like 8/6's or like 9/5's and they are getting shafted form everywhere. I am not basing this on a few of my friends who I have seen get rejected, but reahter tracking this website and seeing how 9/6's and the like are being rejected cold and it just makes me wonder maybe what once was considered a 5 is now perhaps a 3...? ANyone have comments? Also, I find some of the information a little contradictory and up for debate. Plus, in a sense it bothers me how she made the admissions process almost a specifc formula ( i know, the "human side" is also there) and how specific mistakes can jsut sink your application. I also felt that there should be more of a 60/40 ratio instead of like 70/30.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 02:08 am: Edit

You know the "human side" is a factor when 800/800 SAT's are rejected, when valedictorians are rejected, and when French horn players with 1450's are accepted.

I think it's important to realize that colleges have dozens of priorities in assembling a class but that not all priorities are met every year.

Talking to the parents a couple or three years ahead of me and reading the books makes me realize that it's not a cut-and-dried numbers-driven deterministic process.

Ron, you're not going to get a more up to date book based on 2002 stats...publishing simply doesn't work that way except for disaster books. The fact that you consider admissions to be a disaster doesn't count. :)

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that admissions is going to loosen up next year at the elite schools as fewer people apply due to economic worries. For comparison, look at acceptance rates back in 1990, 1991.

By qwe on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 02:22 am: Edit

and lemme take a wild guess, is your daughter applying next year?

you and lucky are sooooooooooo full of ••••.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 10:52 am: Edit

We'll see when the admissions stats come out in a couple of years. I'm not afraid to put out a prediction that isn't "safe." And unlike you, I can provide data to support my claim.

Some data is right at hand: For the period 1990-1992, the acceptance rate at Georgetown was 29 percent, compared to a range of 21-23 percent for the years 1986-1988 and 1996-2002.

Now, you were probably still wetting your pants back in 1990-1992, but that's the last time the economy was in the toilet in terms of unemployment, consumer confidence, etc., the way it is now.

Amazing how your perspective changes when you have to pay for things with money you've earned.

By bump on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 06:21 pm: Edit


By Ron on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 05:07 pm: Edit

what r u talking about thedad? was that last comment directed at me or what?

By HAAA on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 07:20 pm: Edit

I'm amazed that you have the time to argue with high schoolers like this.....though the wetting pants comment was very funny

By Thedad (Thedad) on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 08:18 pm: Edit

Ron, no, it was directed at gwe, whom I strongly
suspect a) does not remember the last economic
downturn of 1990-1991 and b) does not understand
that degree to which parental economic concerns
affect student college choices & enrollment.

HAAA, you're right...but the arguments (here)
are some of the underbrush to be negotiated when
giving advice, seeking advice, or merely making
a comment. I probably respond too much but
some of the bashing here deserves to be checked.

By pollieiscrunk on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 10:41 pm: Edit

Okay, I'm a sophomore and I keep receiving letters (unsolicited) from colleges. I just got one in the mail form Wesleyan yesterday. I guess I did quasi-good on the PSAT, my counselor hasn't given me my score yet.... Is that a good thing? All the colleges sending me letters? On an end note: how do you pronounce wesleyan??

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 01:50 am: Edit

Bug your counselor about your PSAT score, it definitely should have been released by now even
for a slow and sloppy school (like my daughters). Realize that the school received the scores back in December.

The colleges send recruiting letters according to whatever standards they each come up with. It's in their interest to solicit as many applications as possible so that they can then go through and pick the strongest classes...sending to strong PSAT scorers is a good way to begin. But there's not a lot of weight that you should place on them in terms of what your chances are for a given school.

Still...they can be nice. Today's #1 e-mail was from MIT, up there with Yale as the biggest egoboo, as opposed to the US AF Academy which (for my daughter) was among the most ridiculous.

By gwe on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 02:26 am: Edit

i pity your daughter if she has to gain self-esteem through getting junk mail from those colleges.

and the country is doing •••••• economically this year too, yet college applications are generally still rising at pretty fast rate.

put down your little college admission books (they are not the bible), and get a life for god's sake.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 10:34 am: Edit

Hey, it's nice to be asked to be interested, even if you're not.

And thanks for your concern but my life is remarkably full with one full-time career, one part-time career, one extensive volunteer job with a non-profit, one writer's workshop, and then the run-of-the-mill stuff like at the hs like site governance, PTSA board, and the orchestra association. College admissions stuff is just filler in the cracks between the other stuff. Admittedly, it's of intense interest NOW in an effort to be overwhelmed with too much to do next Fall as the apps start coming due.

By pb&j on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 10:44 pm: Edit

you're planning your life around your daughter's apps? dude, that's wacked.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Saturday, February 22, 2003 - 02:33 am: Edit

Di gustibus. Every single parent I've talked to over the past three years said the same thing: they wished they--parents and kid--had started focusing on the college application process earlier. Every single one. They said the search for colleges was too rushed and incomplete, that the essays were hurried and rushed, etc.

Oh...and the high-end private schools, the historical feeders to the high-end colleges?...they're working on the drafts of their essays already.

A lot of juniors are just beginning to figure out where they want to daughter is down to a list of ten and hoping to pare one or two from that by June, to know if any one school stands high enough in her estimation to apply ED, etc.

This is a short enough period--one year--to be focused on this stuff. Considering it's probably one of the most important decisions she'll make after choice of career and who she marries, I think it's worth a little investment of time, looking ahead...and more to the point, so does she. It's homework and preparation.

She writes the letters and e-mails to the schools, I gather the information. Just got a very nice long e-mail tonight from one of the parents here whose daughter went to one of my daughter's target schools; it's going into the college e-mail folder, a very useful assessment.

I think it's whacked to not think about it until your senior year...but your mileage may vary.

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