BCF Readers’ Forum XVIII

Dear Peter,
My son has applied ED and has submitted applications to several other colleges in the event that the ED application is not successful. What is the best way for him to continue to keep a dialogue of sorts with the “fall-back” schools that might become more important to him after his ED decision is known?
Arnie

Dear Arnie,
At this time, the most meaningful dialogue that could be initiated by your son will involve thoughtful, sincere questions that cannot be answered anywhere in the schools’ literature or websites. If none come to mind, then there is nothing to communicate. Your son needs to be careful not to come across as insecure by calculating for effect. Sometimes the best action is no action. Rather than succumbing to the urge to reach out, he simply needs to be mindful of opportunities to respond to communication that is directed to him from the colleges.
Peter

Dear Peter,
My son has a processing issue that results in homework taking him an excruciatingly long time. He has found that taking AP courses that require more reading is not feasible for him when trying to manage a full class load. But he is now comparing himself to his classmates and hearing about how the difficulty of classes is perceived and assessed by schools. He feels like his transcript will convey that he hasn’t challenged himself when, in fact, these “regular” classes have been very rigorous. Is this something he should explain in a supplemental essay?
Jeanine

Dear Jeanine,
I can appreciate your concern regarding the processing issues. My inclination is to err on the side of disclosure whenever there would seem to be outcomes inconsistent with expectations. In your son’s case, if the perceived lack of academic rigor can be explained by the processing issues, then such an explanation is warranted somewhere in his application. The supplemental essay can be used for this purpose.

Moreover, he might ask his guidance counselor to help tell this part of his story. Colleges that understand and respect his processing issues, and are eager—and prepared—to support him in college, will regard this information as helpful to their decision-making. On the other hand, some colleges will simply see this information as validation of a concern that he might not be adequately prepared to function in their respective environments. If it is a fear of this potential reaction that is keeping your son from disclosing, he must ask the question: “Would I really want to be at a college that would otherwise discriminate against me?” Such a college is certainly not going to go out of its way to help support him if he is admitted and enrolled.
Peter

Dear Peter,
My son heard an admission presentation at his school and would like to follow up with the rep. Do you have samples of letters to let them know that you were there and how much you would love to attend their school?
Nancy

Dear Nancy,
Follow-ups to college reps should be short, to the point—and sincere. That’s why there is no template. Your son might simply say, “Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your presentation and look forward to learning more about (insert name of program[s] he’d like to pursue). I’ve begun to make plans to visit your campus and look forward to staying in touch…” It would be great if your son could ask a thoughtful question or request clarification of information provided during the presentation as that would require a follow-up from the college representative.
Peter

Dear Peter,
It is my understanding that selective universities invite certain Early Action applicants to have an optional interview with an Alumnus sometime between mid-November to mid-December. Is this meaningful at all in terms of probability of acceptance? It seems that they would only invite applicants to interview that passed some initial screening. Given the tight turnaround time from the November 1 application due date to the invitation for an interview, I am guessing that they must do some kind of computerized screening. Any insight on this process would be very much appreciated.
Antone

Dear Antone,
While I can’t speak for all schools regarding their protocol for interviews, it is common practice for elite institutions to offer alumni interviews with applicants. Doing so is less an indicator of probability of acceptance (I would not assume any prescreening) and more so an opportunity for the institution to screen for interest on the part of the student. That said I’d urge your student to participate in the alumni interview if at all possible. It is not the content of the interview that will matter; rather, it is the fact that it takes place that can make a difference.
Peter

Dear Peter,
I met the senior associate dean of admission at one of my son’s favorite schools when we went to visit and then again this week when he gave a lecture locally. And at the end of the last lecture, I told him this was the second time meeting him and he said he remembered my question from the first meeting. He gave me his business card, I did not ask for it. I want to now email him but frankly, have no idea what to say, what is appropriate to say, etc. Please advise. Thanks!
Rich

Dear Rich,
The only reason to email this rep is if you have a thoughtful question that can’t be answered anywhere in his school’s literature or on its website. Admission officers are so busy right now that anything short of substantive inquiries from the “outside” will be regarded as a nuisance that could risk introducing a negative bias for the candidate. Moreover, the more pertinent contact would come from your son, not you. If you don’t know what to say, there is no need to contact the gentleman.
Peter

Dear Peter,
When a student submits SAT scores, and a school offers “super-scoring,” does the admission team see the full test for each day, or does an admin compile a file for each kid so the evaluating admission officer only sees the highest scores from each date combined? In other words, if my student’s high math score is accompanied by a relatively low critical reading score, is it a risk to send a low critical reading score from an exposure standpoint?
Annalise

Dear Annalise,
The processing of test scores will vary at each institution. At many schools, the super-scoring takes place at the point of data entry. As a result, application readers only see the super-score result. At other, often more selective, schools the full set of subscores will be visible to the reviewers in which case there is some exposure risk to providing all scores as those schools might discriminate on the anomalously low subscore or, in your student’s case, the critical reading score.
Peter





Comments are closed.