We asked 6 Questions to College Admissions Officers and Here’s What They Said
College application season is rapidly approaching. During these summer months, rising seniors spend much of their time stressing about their GPA’s, test scores, essays, and much more in preparation for their applications in the fall. But have you ever wondered what college admissions officers will actually be thinking about while reviewing your application next year? We interviewed 3 college admissions officers from different universities to learn the truth about various aspects of the review process. After talking to Seattle University, Indiana University of Bloomington, and Baylor University, we discovered that each school has very different priorities in their application process.
Here are 6 questions we asked and the answer from each university. Check out what we learned!
- How do you weigh GPA and course load against extracurriculars in your application process?
- Seattle University: "We start by looking at overall grade trends. GPA’s and test scores are our first indicators when evaluating a student. But of course this should not scare students because we do not want to define a student by a number. We always look at our applicants from a holistic point of view.”
- Indiana University, Bloomington: "GPA and test scores are most important, above extracurriculars."
- Baylor University: "Baylor looks at GPA and extracurriculars with a holistic view to help create a picture of a well-rounded student."
- How much weight do standardized tests carry in your admissions process?
- Seattle University: "It is evaluated almost equally to GPA and overall academics. Looking at standardized tests scores is important in looking for merit scholars."
- Indiana University, Bloomington: "Test scores have the utmost importance"-
- Baylor University: “Test scores and GPA are only part of your story."
- How do you evaluate the application of a well-rounded student vs. a student who is focused on one or two subject areas?
- Seattle University: "We love students who are engaged and use their passions in campus activities. However, when looking at 'angled students' we take on a different approach. We want to see applicants show dedication and time. For example, an applicant who plays soccer, we want to see them go beyond playing, but dedicating their time coaching or volunteering. That’s how we can see just how passionate the student is.
- Indiana University, Bloomington: "We’re just looking for students with strong academics."
- Baylor University: “We are looking for students who can gain the most from a Baylor experience."
4. As students, we are often told that the essay portion of the application is the most important way to showcase ourselves. In your application process, do you think that the essay is the most important part?
- Seattle University: "As an admissions officer, my favorite part of the application is the essay. It highlights the student’s life which we don’t get to see in the numbers.”
- Indiana University, Bloomington: "It is important, but really the "why you want to attend this school" essay is the most important."
- Baylor University: "For Baylor, our essay is optional. So, not as important, however it is recommended."
- Under what circumstance do you find it helpful for a student to submit supplemental parts to their application?
- Seattle University: "We do not require additional supplements. It is most useful and effective when a student is trying to major in a competitive field. It should elaborate a student's passions."
- Indiana University, Bloomington: "We only accept additional teacher letters of recommendation."
- Baylor University: "It is not required."
- Does your institution conduct interviews with prospective students? If yes, why is it helpful?
- Seattle University: "Yes, an interview only adds and helps us see the student's personality and passions. It is also used to help Seattle U to improve, when we ask the students to explain their ideal college."
- Indiana University, Bloomington: "Yes, but it is only helpful for students to gain perspective, it makes no difference in getting admitted."
- Baylor University: "No, an interview is not required as part of the admission process."
The takeaway? Every institution has different priorities when looking at applications. So this means that you have one job as the applicant: research! Wondering if your dream school conducts interviews, accepts supplemental letters of recommendations, or heavily considers your test scores? Dig around their website, call an admissions officer, or email the university’s rep for your area. In fact, most schools have great information on their websites, especially in the FAQ section. Colleges are eager to help prospective students, so don’t be afraid to look for answers, you’ll be surprised what you find.
You can also directly search for colleges that require specific GPA’s and test scores using Cirkled in’s College Search Portal. From location, to size, to net prices, Cirkled in’s college search feature allows you get information about hundreds of schools all in one place.