Earlier this week a few members of the Undergraduate Admission team had the opportunity to spend the afternoon at the Ron Burton Training Village (RBTV). For those unfamiliar with RBTV, it is a program that encourages personal growth in every facet of life. Love, Peace, Patience, and Humility are the pillars of the program, and after spending some time with these campers, I felt inspired to more fully embrace these principles in my own life!
We planned an activity for the junior and senior campers to provide some insight/guidance about the admission process and really put the students in the driver’s seat! They were split into different groups (admissions committee, applicants, and interviewers) and were able to get an inside look at the inner workings of an admissions office. After the “applicants” presented their case, and the “interviewers” were able to ask their questions, the “admissions committee” made their final admission decision on the student profiles that were presented. It got me thinking…
Perhaps other students could benefit from the experience, so here are some of the main takeaways from the activity as you navigate your own college process:
1. The college admissions process is so much more than your GPA and test scores. Putting the time and effort into describing your compelling personal side can most certainly make a difference to an admissions committee. Choosing the right teachers/counselors to write your letters of recommendation (those who can really speak to your personality and strengths as a student), following your passions and getting involved in extracurricular activities, taking on leadership roles, speaking from the heart, and putting thought into how your essay will tell your story are all important factors to becoming that well-rounded student that colleges will be vying for.
2. The admissions committee won’t be able to ask you questions during the review of your application. Unlike the activity we planned for this exercise, you won’t get the opportunity to stand in front of the admissions committee and plead your case. It is important to provide as much detail and information as you can in your application, so that the committee can make an informed decision. Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you to make contact with students or admission counselors, and keep in touch. If there is something that you feel needs more attention or clarification in your educational history that can’t be described in your application, find out if the school offers interviews. If not, send an e-mail, pick up the phone, or discuss with your teachers/counselors to make sure it is referenced in their letters of recommendation.
3. Be open and honest. If you do have the opportunity to interview or meet with someone in the admissions office, be yourself! Of course you want to make a good impression, but don’t answer questions with what you think we want to hear (we can tell!) Instead, provide context and insight into who you are as a person and a student. Did your grades slip sophomore year? We would much rather hear about why and how you made changes to improve, instead of avoiding the topic and leaving us wondering as we read your transcript.
The Campus Visit
Summer is finally here **pause for collective sigh of relief** and if you are anything like me, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible outside! At the same time, I’m sure that your parents are encouraging you to be productive and get a jump start on the college process. Introducing the perfect compromise: the campus visit! Get outside, enjoy the beautiful weather, and start visiting all of the schools on your list that you haven’t had the chance to see yet.
Here are some tips to make the most out of your visit:
Plan Ahead. If you want to get the most information and attention, visit the website or call to find out when tours/information sessions/interviews are being offered. This will also allow you to plan the rest of your day and explore the area.
Ask for Recommendations. If you have some extra time, I always suggest exploring the town and surrounding areas of the school! Obviously, there is a lot to see in the Boston area, but we are lucky enough to also have our own mini college town in Waltham. Ask your tour guides where their favorites spots to eat are, what they do for fun, etc.
Wear Comfortable Shoes! While you won’t be running a marathon, campus tours often involve a good amount of walking. Make it easier on yourself and wear something comfortable.
Take Notes. I know I know, you’re supposed to be done with school work for the summer, but taking notes on your visits will help you remember your initial feelings on campus. College visits can often blend together, especially if you are visiting multiple schools in a short period of time. As you sit in on information sessions or tours, make notes of what you liked, what your concerns were, what blew you away, etc. This will help you keep track of what questions you might want to ask an admission counselor, but also serve as a reminder for yourself!
Ask Questions. Use your time on campus to get as many questions as you can answered, especially from the student perspective. You can always call up an admission counselor with questions, but the campus visit is the perfect time to get the inside scoop from current students.
Keep in Touch. Your experience doesn’t have to end when you step off campus. Ask for cards and contact information from students and staff that you meet and feel free to follow-up with questions, updates, or even just a simple thank you.
Hope to see you in the Bentley University Undergraduate Admission Visitor Center soon!