Is it worth the stress of selling yourself to top universities with an amazing resume?

By Maxine Seya

Selling yourself to top universities with an amazing resume is incredibly stressful. Is it worth it? Legacies playing a huge part of admissions makes for very few real spots.

– Ann, a parent in Boston, Massachusetts

As a journalist, I’ve conducted comprehensive interviews with some of the best and brightest admissions insiders. Through these conversations, I’ve developed a sense of what really matters to them. After many interviews, I’ve noticed a common theme among all of them when I ask questions like “what’s your best piece of advice?” and “what’s the biggest misunderstanding about getting into your college?” They’re not collaborating on these answers, but oddly enough, they’re implying the same thing:

No. Selling yourself for an amazing resume is not worth it.

Instead, here are the two efforts I believe admissions pros think an applicant can make that are worth it.

1. Spend time showing interest in that specific school instead.

When I was a college consultant, I used to tell my clients that college admissions is like dating. Of course you have to meet your potential partner’s minimum criteria (a.k.a. your college’s basic admission requirements), but aside from that, despite how you might play hard-to-get games together, you’ll eventually want to be with the one who is most interested in you.

Colleges are competing for students and they want to accept those who are head over heels in love with them.

Take this snippet from our exclusive interview with Henry, a Whitman admissions officer:

SocratesPost: What was a negative interview that you had?

Henry at Whitman: There’s probably been more of those than I care to admit but I’d say traditionally the typical negative interviews are one where the students show to be perfect and nice, but there’s no visible interest in the school.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.