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Articles / Applying to College / How Many Reps Evaluate Each Applicant?

Nov. 17, 2013

How Many Reps Evaluate Each Applicant?

Question: How many admission reps usually evaluate each application, especially at Ivy league schools? Is there a system of checks and balances?

The review process (and the number of admission officials involved) varies–sometimes significantly–from school to school and sometimes even from candidate to candidate. (For instance, applications from legacy candidates, minority candidates, recruited athletes, etc. may have their files read by extra staff members.) But, yes, there is always some sort of “checks and balances” system in place. Even so, it can be a very subjective process, which means that a big dose of luck is involved. When I worked in a college admission office, it wasn’t rare for me to write “Great essay!” on an application folder, only to learn that a colleague had hated the same essay that I loved. So, if you’re born under the right star, the folks who read your essay will be all the ones who praise it. So that’s where the “luck” part comes in.

Check out The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College by Jacques Steinberg and A Is for Admission: The Insider’s Guide to Getting into the Ivy League and Other Top Colleges by Michele Hernandez for a behind-the-scenes peek at how two “elite” schools (Wesleyan and Dartmouth) choose their classes.


 

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.

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