Issue 6: Wesleyan University (2/2), Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be

Last week, SocratesPost chatted with Wesleyan University Senior Admissions Interviewer Naomi Williams on the misconceptions of college admissions and how to really stand out from the crowd of overachievers. As a refresher, Naomi interviews prospective students and the occasional transfer student and provides feedback on their fit for Wesleyan.
This week, Naomi continues the dialogue by telling us about what happens in the worst interviews she conducts with prospective Wesleyan students. To catch up from last week’s issue, click here.
Mercy at SocratesPost: “Tell me about a time you had a terrible interview. What happened?”
Naomi at Wesleyan: “The interviews that suck are often times than not the ones where students answer every question with super short responses. The harder it is for me to pull thoughtful responses out of a student, the less I get to learn about the student. It also comes off as they just don’t care. Whenever that happens to me, I wonder if this was something the student’s parent made them do. Again, sometimes parents can hurt their student’s chances by pushing them to do interviews at schools they don’t even want to go to. Sometimes I’ll ask students questions about themselves or what their interests are, and they just won’t know. If I ask them about what they’re passionate about, or what their favorite class has been, they’ll literally shrug and say, “I don’t know.” They don’t have to sound sophisticated. We as interviewers just want to have a better understanding of who the student is. If the student doesn’t think about their interests and passions before the interview, it’ll be difficult to articulate them to the interviewer. If we don’t learn anything about the student during that conversation, then the interview becomes time wasted.
Mercy at SocratesPost: “What about the best, most impressive interview with an applicant?”
Continue to read Naomi’s most impressive interview and best piece of advice for high school applicants. Hear it from an insider! →

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Mercy at SocratesPost: “What have you noticed about the changing landscape on college admissions? What should parents and students be aware of now that wasn’t relevant to someone applying in the past?”
Mercy at SocratesPost: “Your best piece of advice for high school applicants vying for a spot in their elite college of choice?”

Dear Socrates Q&A

This week, we changed it up a bit. We had our readers answer the question “What do you wish you knew before you attended or graduated from college?” We chose this answer for you to read — a unique perspective from Ryan Jackson, a Wall Streeter in New York City who current works at Citi.

From Ryan, ICG Client Analytics Statistician at Citi:

“I wish I knew what major I should have chosen instead of which major I wanted. The difference is that the former is based on job prospects and skills to get there, whereas the latter focuses on interest. If I were to go back in time, I would….”

Continue to read what a young Wall Streeter wish he knew before he went to college and why he wishes he strategized differently →

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The Skinny

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earned her B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Denver

I think there’s a conceit, a myth, that you can go and sit in a university and things will come to you. They don’t. You have to go to them.

My students will come in and say, ‘How do I do what you do?’ which means they want to be secretary of state…I say, ‘So here’s how you do it — you start as a failed piano major.’ They’re stunned. But what I’m trying to get them to see is that you have some time to recognize that special combination of what you love and what you’re also good at. Taking the time to do that is very important…

–Condoleezza Rice, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania p. 92

I oftentimes get the question, “Can I get into a top university with x GPA?” or “What are the best schools for X subject?” or “How do I increase my chances of getting into a top-tier school?” In an earlier issue, I remarked that most kids and parents didn’t even know what “top-tier” really meant. Some equated it to name recognition, while others equated it to selectivity rates.

Having graduated from Northwestern, widely regarded as a “Top 10 U.S. University,” I didn’t believe the education I received was significantly better or more worthwhile than that of my peers who attended less selective public universities. The overall experience, of course, varied significantly.

I’d always wondered: why do so many people want to gain admission into a “top” university? Why do they go so far to get admitted? Why is it all that they care about? Is there a downside to this? An upside? Does it all matter in the end? I don’t discount the value of a good education; I merely wanted to investigate the hype.

This week, SocratesPost read, analyzed, and summarized Frank Bruni’s book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Condoleezza Rice, the first female African-American U.S. Secretary of State, stood out as one of Bruni’s examples of successful individuals who did not, in fact, attend or graduate from the commonly-perceived prestigious universities.

In response to the worldwide craze of parents sending their children to “top-tier,” “highly-ranked,” and “prestigious” schools, Bruni offers concrete examples of those who’ve done well for themselves without the Ivy diploma and raises concerns from influential Americans about the problem with the Ivy Leagues.

Continue to read our snapshot of the 3 views from 3 stars on what’s missing from Ivy League grads and request a summary of any resource you’d like →