smilingrid: #HStoHC (part two!)

April 28, 2014

#HStoHC (part two!)

Much of the day was spent in workshops like this one! This post will be the first of three covering the lectures/panels we attended. Get ready for a lot of pictures and awesome info!

But, before we dive in, can we just take a minute to appreciate how many people packed themselves into these rooms in the quest for information? You go, pre-collegiettes (and parents)!

Brittany introduced the speaker of "Who Gets in and Why: Inside Highly Selective Admissions." Justin Pike is an assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Tufts University, but he spoke on behalf of hard-to-get-into schools everywhere!  

Justin with his bio in the Pre-Collegiette Conference booklet! In it, he says that "clicking 'submit' should be a form of expression, not fear"- sounds good, right?

Justin told us that context is key- and that admissions offices pay attention to it! This is great for you, ladies and gents, because it means that your grades are seen with the context of your super hard high school. GPAs and grading systems are different- and equally difficult in different ways.

Justin also highlighted the difference between a "well-rounded" and a "specialist" in terms of extracurricular engagement. And you know what? He said both are wildly desirable to your college of choice! What matters is your depth and/or your breadth of participation- they want to learn about your passions and incorporate your awesome interests into their campus.

Anyone wanna know about your personal essay? Yeah, I thought so! Your college essay is the other half to the "data" of your application- that is, your grades, class rank, lists upon lists of incredible things you've done. The "data" half is rather impersonal (despite being all about you!), so the essay is where you really display your personal qualities and voice (also in supplements, recommendations, and interviews, but let's focus on the part you have to complete for any and every application). And guess what? You have complete control! Which is equal parts awesome and scary when faced with vague essay topics... But Justin has some tips!

1) DON'T fall into the "traditional" answers (typically about athletics, family, service trips, etc.) that aren't really helpful. We're trained to tell a narrative in our writing, but if you're leading up to "I'm hardworking and determined" (or a similar claim)... well, you've already proven that if he's looking at your application!
2) DO approach your essay thoughtfully and specifically! If you feel the need to write a "traditional" essay, give it a personal spin! I know it can be awkward to write about yourself, but that's exactly what admission people want to see! Ask "why did I do these things" and "how did I choose them?" instead of just telling about the insert-topic-of-essay-here itself. As Justin said, "go a level deeper!"
3) in order to do both #1 AND #2, make sure to give yourself time! Plan it out. Brainstorm. Write a couple drafts. Write drafts for different topics. Scrap it all and start over. Or maybe your lucky and get it right in the early stages! Either way, give yourself time to mull it over, get all introspective, and deliver the best essay you can!

Now, we can turn to supplements! If a school is asking you to write supplements, they care about what you have to say. You might groan at the extra work... but they're extra work for the admissions office too! So, make sure to spend time on them! Do your homework- supplements are specific to each school, so make sure you answer specifically. If you go on a tour or visit that school, take notes while there and imbue your supplements with the vibe you got on campus. Take some thoughtful risks and show off how much you love their school- it can only help you if you put in the effort.

Justin assured us that there are such things as "institutional priorities"- priorities that every college is looking for in a particular applicant pool... unfortunately, we'll never know exactly what they are! BUT! You can make educated guesses by reading the school's pamphlets and publications. What is their big story on? Bring a critical eye- if they feature it, it's important!

Justin finished off the session with his "college confidential rant." College Confidential is a website where people can post their grades, extracurricular and other parts of their application and ask whether they'll get into certain schools...Basically, Justin says don't go on it because the internet is mean. Plus, the people replying to you don't have ANY of the context necessary to understand your academic achievements! He called it the "worst thing in the world" (direct quote) and promises that the people answering your query do not work for admissions offices. They are "those people who comment on New York Times articles." Yup. Save yourself some tears and trust your school college counselor.

What are your thoughts? My aunt was blown away by how helpful and thorough he was and I'd have to agree! Where were people putting on these events when I was in high school?! I can only be glad Her Campus is taking up the reins and making sure that high schoolers (specifically my cousins!) are given the right information!

Speaking of cousins... mirror selfie in the epically long bathroom line!

In other random news- spotted: Semirah bein bloggy in another lecture hall! Hey girl hey!

Still to come- two more workshop blocks, an amazing keynote speaker at lunch, a fashion show, and a raffle! Get excited!

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