Issue 31: Fake college essays, plus gap year advice

Concordia senior admissions counselor Linda tells SocratesPost her no-no essay topics, how involved parents should be in the app process, and how “gut feelings” play into college decisions. Continue to read the last installment of our exclusive interview with this liberal arts college admissions officer.

Exclusive Insider Interview: Senior Admissions Counselor, Concordia University Chicago

Mercy at SocratesPost: Some admissions officers have strong feelings about how parents should be involved in the app process. What’s your take on that?

Linda at Concordia: I am strong believer that parents should be involved because this is probably the biggest decision the 17 or 18 year old will be making and some parental guidance is helpful. I encourage parents to come visit the campus with their student, to call and ask questions themselves, to review the award letter and compare it to others, to help financially as much as possible, and lastly to be supportive about their students major, time management, and even mental health.

Mercy at SocratesPost: What are most applicants surprised to learn about the admissions process at CUC?

Linda at Concordia: Our conditional acceptance route! I think since we require an ACT or SAT score, the students assume if they are below that they will not be admitted. When we explain the other options, they feel relief and more welcomed to CUC.

Mercy at SocratesPost: You’ve read probably thousands of essays — what elements of an essay tend to stand out to you?

Here’s a preview of the rest of our conversation! Subscribe to read the rest and support our ad-free newsletter.

Mercy at SocratesPost: How should applicants describe their extracurricular involvement in a way that captures your attention?

Mercy at SocratesPost: What do you see often in applications that you’d prefer not to see?

Mercy at SocratesPost: Some people believe there’s a backdoor or secret to getting into college. What do you think the secret is for CUC?

Mercy at SocratesPost: What is the most noteworthy takeaway from your admissions career so far?

Mercy at SocratesPost: Where do you see the admissions industry going?

Mercy at SocratesPost: What’s your best piece of advice for students applying to CUC?

Stay tuned for more of our interview with Linda next week!

Dear Socrates Q&A

This week, we selected a question from Dimitri, a student in Astoria, New York:

“If I have a productive gap year where I take college classes, boost standardized test scores, and partake in noteworthy activities, can I significantly boost my admissions chances?”

A article in The Atlantic last year noted that in most selective colleges, the once two most-important aspects of college admissions have decreased in relatively importance among admissions staff: GPA and test scores.

For decades, a high SAT or ACT score and perfect GPA meant strong chances at getting into most schools of your choice.

Not anymore.

Now, other factors like demonstrated interest, extracurricular involvement, and ability to pay oftentimes play a bigger role in whether you’ll get that “yes” letter or not.

Eric J. Furda, Dean of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania said this:

Our evaluation process looks at where they are right now and what can we expect from them once they come to our campus.

Yes, your gap year can boost your admissions chances. But be intentional about what you do that year.

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SocratesPost is always on the frontlines scouring the news for relevant updates in the college admissions landscape. We look for anything that can help shape our understanding of the latest trends in admissions and help our readers see the direction in which we’re moving. Questions we explored this week:

  • What’s the debate behind auctioning off seats in college admissions?
  • What happened when someone bought a fake college admissions essay online and submitted it to four admissions officers?
  • What’s the surprising tool that’s helping high school seniors choose their colleges?

Get answers below.

April 1, 2019 — A Harvard Management Company official suggested auctioning off seats in college admissions, stirring debate on equity and access.

How do we get rid of under-the-table bribes and illegal college admissions schemes? Allow some incoming college freshmen seats to be purchased in an open, public auction, says official of Harvard Management Company. A recent LinkedIn post by Michael Cappucci, a senior vice president at HMC, proposed this controversial idea. Though Harvard has emphasized the institution does not endorse Cappucci’s views, the post was taken down.

What does this mean? The college admissions scandal exposed a divide amongst those who believe in the free market and those who believe in creating equal access to education, not giving the wealthy a leg up.