ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled Saved to Favorites.
Articles / Applying to College / Admission Hook Isn't Patently Obvious

May 14, 2015

Admission Hook Isn't Patently Obvious

Question: How helpful is a US Patent (not patent-pending, an actual patent) for elite school admissions?

One of “The Dean’s” favorite default responses is “It depends.” And it’s certainly an apt answer here.

Except in rare cases, holding a patent will not replace top grades and test scores at an “elite” college or university. At the most sought-after institutions, an outstanding transcript and test results are the tickets that get a candidate to the front gates.  Next, admission officials ask, “What else is special?” Because so many applicants to these schools submit similar “numbers,” admission committees will look for unique talents and accomplishments or an atypical background that might enrich their freshman class.  Applicants who don’t offer such enticements probably won’t get beyond the outer courtyard.


Certainly, a patent can make an already-qualified student stand out in the crowd—at least at first glance—but the admission folks will be digging deeper. Holding a patent alone won’t be enough. For instance, admission officers will consider how much research, study, effort, and ingenuity went into the patent. Above all, they will discuss the applicant’s role. Did he or she invent the patented item alone or as part of a team? And, if the latter, who was on that team … perhaps a college professor or other scientist who played the starring role in acquiring the patent? A parent or other relative? (It seems increasingly popular these days for parents to include a college-bound son or daughter in a research endeavor or as a co-author of a book in order to provide that child with extra college-admissions ammunition.)  Obviously, a patent that was obtained by the student independently after developing a unique product based on hard work and creativity will provide a lot more admissions fire-power than a patent obtained by a group where the student’s role is minimal … or unclear.

So if you have patented an invention on your own (or with another peer … not adult … as a partner), which required significant work, study, creativity and/or knowledge, it could indeed give your admission odds a sweet boost. But unless your idea is likely to be The Next Big Thing, it probably won’t have a major impact on your college outcomes if you don’t have the appropriate transcript and test scores to go with it.

 

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

More on Applying to College

Can I Reapply After Early Decision or Early Action Rejection?

Can I Reapply After Early Decision or Early Action Rejection?

Question: If I apply to a college through Early Decision or Early Action, but I am not accepted, can I apply again through Regula…

38547127311_5463cc8dd3_w.jpg

How To Get Into Penn in 2022

There's no doubt that the University of Pennsylvania is extremely difficult to get into. In 2021, the ivy league school in P…

Early Decision or Early Action?

Early Decision or Early Action?

Question: Why should I consider an Early Decision or Early Action college application? What's the difference?

Your level of d…

Can I Apply Early Twice?

Can I Apply Early Twice?

Question: I am planning on applying early decision to my first-choice college. I will be notified of my status by December 31st. …

Advantages of EARLY Early-Decision Application?

Advantages of EARLY Early-Decision Application?

Question: I'm applying Early Decision to an Ivy League school. Is there any advantage for me to send in the application mate…

A-Z College Forums

Browse the College Forums
C1E9D4E7-C4C9-4B28-8946-8F441A6D62B3

Find Your Best Fit

Find your best fit college and track your favorite colleges.