Admissions to top colleges and universities can be compared to the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. For a week, from July 7-14, the Fiesta brings thousands of visitors to enjoy the rich cultural experience of food, fun, and frolic—that is if you dare to run the ½ mile stretch that leads the bull through the old quarters to eventually end up at the Bullring. All of this takes 2 minutes to 6 minutes, sometimes 10 minutes; very much similar to the time it may take an admissions reader to go through your application and decide whether to admit, reject, or postpone your application for further reading. If this is a shock to you, welcome to the 21st Century admissions selection process where every year, schools are receiving a ‘record volume of applications.’ As such, they no longer have the luxury to spend 20-30 minutes to massage each application like the old days.
What has changed? Technology. Technology has transformed the admissions operation from a physical folder to electronic folders. Technology’s additional capabilities include starring (*) students from the top of their class to those with perfect SAT/ACT scores as well as SAT2 scores to draw the attention of the readers for a careful and detail read. Sometimes this practice becomes the default barometer or benchmark for the admitted class. As a result, those with lower scores may get a quicker read of 3-5 minutes. For a holistic evaluation, that may sound insane! However, consider the fact that these schools receive 40,000-50,000 applications only to admit 5%-10% of them.
It’s a cutthroat world, and that’s why in the application process, applicants need to be more attentive to how they present themselves on paper. Robust testing alone will not cut it. Therefore, take the time to reflect deeply and critically assess your strengths and shore up your weaknesses, because leaving things to chance will no longer work in the 21st-century admissions model. Additionally, write a healthy and compassionate personal statement and approach the college-specific supplement with conviction and love because your destiny is in your hands. Don't fall victim to a 3-minute read. Seek to captivate their interest and convince them that you're a fit.