Just Being Yourself Can Help You Get Into College

Pink_aber_shirt I’m not Arun Ponnusamy, the former Caltech and University of Chicago Assistant Director of Admissions and the usual contributor to this “Inside the Admissions Office” column. I’ve never even worked in an admissions office. But I think I can teach you a little something about college admissions by sharing some things Arun might not tell you.

Arun wears a lot of pink. I don’t know many men who can wear pink and really pull it off, but I swear Arun can do it. He’s actually got what some people might call a pretty well developed fashion sense, which is interesting considering he was raised in rural Ohio. Think small town. Think farms. Think of a situation where his dad wasn’t a surgeon in his small town. His father was the surgeon in his small town. To watch Arun coolly navigate the hippest areas of Los Angeles, all decked out in his silky pink shirts, hip-hop music playing in his grey Scion, you’d never know that instead of a paper route or a job in retail, his part time job during high school summers was shoveling cow poop.

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Don’t Fall For These Admissions Myths

When it comes to college admissions, knowledge is power. So make sure you don’t
fall for these five popular myths.


1. Connections get you in

That letter of recommendation from the alumnus who is also your father’s
business partner isn’t likely to get you in. And neither is the fact that your
neighbor knows someone on the admissions staff.

Admissions officers are looking for motivated students who can add to their
campus communities, not the ones who know the “right people.” So, unless the
brand new research center at your dream school has your family’s name on it
(which would help), don’t count on your connections to get you in.

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Antioch College

Antioch_2Yellow Springs, OH

Looks aren’t everything.

Maybe you don’t fit the mold in high school. You don’t look like the other
kids. You don’t dress like they dress. You don’t think like they think. You
don’t know where the cool party is and you don’t care. You might even be more
intelligent than your grades makes you look. You’re a thinker, a dreamer, an
idealist. You can’t wait to escape high school and surround yourself with a
bunch of other bright, interesting, wonderfully weird students who didn’t fit
the mold in high school either and who think you look just fine.

Have we got the college for you…

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Blogworthy

We spend our days at NACAC assessing whether each experience is blogworthy and abiding by the guiding principle that not everything we do here makes for interesting reading.  Rather, we’ll try to share the conversations, sessions and experiences that are making our stay at NACAC so Priceofadmissionbig_4 memorable.  With that guiding principle, here was NACAC, day two.

This book has been getting a lot of press lately, so you can imagine how much it’s being talked about in the company of NACAC.  Fortunately (or sadly, depending upon how college-geeky this really makes us), Kevin and Arun each read the book during their respective flights to attend NACAC, so they’ve been able to weigh in with their own thoughts.  At one point yesterday, Ted O’Neil from the University of Chicago asked Kevin, "So, you read The Price of Admission?  What did you think of it?"  Kevin was an English major in college and thus enjoyed years of training in criticial analysis and discussion of classic literature.  But for Kevin, this was much, much cooler than being asked his thoughts about Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (a book Kevin read in college, but never managed, even for one second, to understand).   

Kevin’s take on The Price of Admission, by the way, is that the book is somewhat predicated on the assumption that a kid who is "left out" of a spot in the nation’s most selective colleges is somehow at a life disadvantage.  You don’t have to spend much time around Collegewise to pick up that we don’t believe you have to go to a school on the US News list to be happy and successful.  Still, it’s not a simple issue, and we’ve enjoyed being a part of the discussions here with fellow counselors and admissions officers.   

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Everybody Loves Arun

Day one at NACAC reminded us of two things–We come here as much for the people as we do for the workshops, and the vast majority of the people working in admissions are smart, honest, and interested in doing what’s right for kids.

We have to start this entry by acknowledging that it seems as if everyone attending NACAC has worked with or heard of Arun.  And all of them seem to like and respect him.  Alex and Kevin have had absolutely no qualms riding Arun’s coattails throughout our stay here.  And what colorful coattails they are.  Yesterday, Arun was sporting a look that involved a pink dress shirt, red track jacket, and blue pinstriped blazer–yes, all at the same time.  Alex and Kevin admitted that while we would look absolutely ridiculous in that outfit, Arun somehow managed to pull it off.  We’re kicking ourselves for not photographing him.  One counselor and at an elite New York private high school admired Arun’s look with the comment, "Wow, look at you!  You look so LA glossy."  Thus far, nobody has referred to Kevin or Alex as "glossy." 

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Back On Tour…

Day one of our full-fledged college tours got off to a rocky start when it took us nearly 30-minutes Easyrider_4just to find the freeway near our hotel.  We were distracted by all the pedestrians who mistook us for a cab and  tried to hail us.  Who can blame them?  We’re driving this.

No, this is not a random car that we saw in a parking lot and thought, "Hey, it would be funny if we took a picture of that monstrosity and put in the blog!"  This is actually our rental car…for one more day.  Until then, we’re going to fashion a large "Off Duty" sign to attach to its roof just to get people to stop trying to flag us down for rides around town.

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Centre College

Centre_2
Danville, KY

Colleges make lots of promises to prospective students.  But Centre
College, a liberal arts college with 1,070 students in Danville, Kentucky
actually gives you a guarantee.  All students who meet the college’s
academic expectations are guaranteed an internship, study abroad, and
graduation in four consecutive years.

What happens if you don’t get those?  Centre College
will provide up to a year of additional study tuition-free.

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Some Good News About College Admissions

There’s a lot of bad news swirling around about how difficult it is to get into
college today.  But the situation isn’t as bleak as you might think.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, remember these five
bits of good college admission news.

1. It’s actually not hard to get into college.
There are 2036 four year colleges in the country, and you know what?  Only
about 200 of them are actually competitive.  630 colleges accept more than
half of their applicants.  576 colleges accept more than 75% of those who
apply.  And there are 139 colleges that accept ANYONE who graduated from
high school!  So if you want to go to college, pack your bags—you’re
going!

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Lewis and Clark College

Lewsi_and_clarkpg
Portland, OR

If you want to be more than just a number once you get to college, you might
want to check out Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where you won’t
even be reduced to a number when you apply.

Admissions officers at Lewis and Clark understand that
numbers like test scores alone don’t always tell the full story of a student.
Since 1990, Lewis and Clark’s Portfolio Path option has given applicants a
truly personal evaluation. As a supplement to the standard application form,
Portfolio Path applicants create a portfolio consisting of at least four
samples of graded academic work, three academic letters of recommendation, and
one piece of visual or performance art work. And for students applying via the
Portfolio Path, submitting test scores is optional.

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Scripps College

ScrippsClaremont, CA

Sorry guys—it’s women-only at Scripps College where 800 smart, artsy, confident women enjoy a rigorous liberal arts education with a strong sense of female community.

Scripps is the women’s college of The Claremont Colleges, a cluster of five tiny schools on 317 acres in Claremont, CA that includes Claremont McKenna, Pomona, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer. Each school specializes in a particular area that compliments the others (Scripps is strongest in the humanities like languages and history and also has a strong psychology program). Students may take up to a third of their courses at any of the sister campuses. This allows students at any of the Claremont Colleges to combine the personalized attention of a tiny college with the academic and social opportunities of a large university. And yes, even the boys can take classes at Scripps.

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