How USA Admissions really work?

clc admissions

Every year millions of students hit the “submit” button at common application, hoping for USA universities to accept them as undergraduates. But what really happens after you have submitted your application to USA Universities. For years almost all admissions offices claim that they give their applicants a “holistic” review of their application. Yet the truth is slightly different.

To begin with most universities, now that number of applications has skyrocketed due to the “optional” SAT score submission, are deploying algorithms and computer programs for the first screening of applicants as it is nearly impossible for an admissions officer to read thousands of essays and profiles in such a short amount of time. Different universities set different standards for the SAT and GPA and should the student meet the university’s criteria, then the student’s profile goes to the admissions officer responsible for the student’s country.

The admissions officer scans then your essays and activity list which includes any awards, research, team projects, sports, internships, volunteering, school and community involvement. According to those criteria the student will belong to 3 categories:

  1. Likely to be accepted
  2. Likely to be deferred (for further assessment)
  3. Likely to be rejected

Then according to the category the student’s profile passes to a second admissions officer that also categorizes the student to one of the three categories above. If the admissions officers agree, them most probably the decision will be final (accept or defer or reject).

Should the admissions officers disagree then the profile of the student is reviewed at the final stage where all the admissions committee bring their students for final evaluation and then the final decision is made.

The final decision is made based upon: the student’s academic and extracurricular profile, the awards or participation in competitions, the community outreach, and of course the main essay and how appealing was to the officers. They also take into account what other students have been already admitted in the program based on race, ethnicity, and skills so they look to create a balanced class. For example, if a student from Europe/Greece has not already been admitted then most likely the admissions officers will prefer to admit a student with these origins. When comparing profiles, they look for students who would bring something unique to the class and whose writing has created an impression (this is where appeal to the emotion in the main essay plays a crucial role). Finally, they take into account how rigorous the academic program that the student followed in high school is. So if a student has completed Online Courses, A Levels, or summer courses (with or without credit), then probably this student will be preferred from one who only completed the high school curriculum.

Because the admissions evaluation is both very unpredictable and difficult for elite schools, we at CLC compile with our students a list of universities that includes reach(dream), target, and safety schools so to ensure the best possible acceptances from universities that fit our students’ unique academic and extracurricular needs.



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