How to pick out “packaged” candidates from a crowd of applicants. Unfairness in the college admissions process. Changes in the admissions landscape. Biggest surprises for college applicants. Best piece of advice for Penn hopefuls. Get answers from Dave Min, Penn Wharton alumni, Penn admissions interviewer, UCI law professor, and congressional candidate, in this week’s latest insider interview. This is a continuation of our interview from last week. To catch up on last week’s interview, click here.
Exclusive Insider Interview: University of Pennsylvania, Admissions Interviewer
SocratesPost: “I feel like college admissions sometimes skews toward those who seem more mature at age 17 — the people who really know themselves and show passion at 17. Have you noticed any sort of unfairness in the college admissions process?”
SocratesPost: “How do we encourage students to find what they love and actually enjoy learning rather than just check the boxes for admissions?”
And that’s easier said than done. I was not the hardest working kid myself. I was able to escape by my intelligence and I did not learn a good work ethic as a kid. So I’m cognizant of people that are too much like me at the same time. But as far as your extracurriculars, I say encourage your kid to find something he actually likes rather than force him to do things they don’t, because that matters. If you’re a master violinist, like you’re the lead first violin in a major orchestra, that’s got to mean something, right? Even if you don’t love it, that’s still a pretty damn impressive accomplishment that will stand out.
But at the same time if you’re just kind of indistinguishable as far as your extracurricular activities, we have grade inflation that we’re seeing, we also have extracurricular inflation where everybody seems to be doing like 25 different activities.”
SocratesPost: “Right, everyone is doing the same 25 activities and they have the same title. If you’re not a secretary, you’re a president.”
SocratesPost: “How do you tell the difference between the students who were told by parents, counselors, or teachers to go start something versus students who just came up with it on their own, organically?”
SocratesPost: “Earlier, you said you submitted your application for Penn and had mailed in that application. That’s not how it works anymore. What have you noticed about the changing landscape on college admission? And what should parents and students be aware of now that wasn’t relevant to someone applying in the past?”
SocratesPost: “Do you think that will start with the private schools, or would it be a change amongst public schools, too?”
SocratesPost: “What is something that you find students or parents are surprised to learn during the college app process that they just did not see coming?”
SocratesPost: “Yeah, basically. Thousands of high schoolers are dying for a chance to study at Penn or similar schools. What type of student do you think Penn is more suited for?”
SocratesPost: “Is that because of their GPA for grad school?”
SocratesPost: “To wrap up, what is your best piece of advice for high school applicants vying for a spot in their school of choice?”