Issue 35: Get into this 4-year college with a 2.5 GPA and 19 ACT, plus an admissions dean’s best career takeaways

This public Alabama university accepts most applicants w/ an ACT 19+ and SAT of 990+ and GPA 2.5+, plus guaranteed full tuition scholarships and in-state tuition for anyone who exceed them (get more info below**). Read our interview with admissions officer Jade Chappell on how ability to pay affects the admissions, the biggest misunderstandings of admissions, and the hilarious questions prospective students ask →

Exclusive Insider Interview: Admissions Officer, a public Alabama university*

*Admissions officer Jade Chappell asked that we keep the name of her institution private, but happily allowed us to share the type and location of her institution.

Mercy at SocratesPost: Jade, can you tell me about your career working in admissions so far?

Jade at Alabama: I got started as an admissions advisor in 2014. I worked for my alma mater, and I did that for about four years. Now I have moved to another school – another four year school – in my state, that’s very similar but just a little bit bigger than my alma mater. And I’ve been there about two years.

Mercy at SocratesPost: What inspired you to start a career in admissions or in higher education?

Jade at Alabama: So everyone who works in education usually says that they did not plan on working in higher education, and it was kind of the same thing with me. I was heavily involved in my alma mater; I was a sorority president; I was just super duper involved. When I graduated, I had a really hard time finding a job in my career field of public relations. I just I didn’t find anything that I liked. Then I saw an admissions advisor position open up where all I had to do was talk about my school, and I was like, “Oh, I can do that.” So I applied and immediately fell in love, and now I can’t see myself doing something different.

Mercy at SocratesPost: Tell me more about what the job of an admissions advisor entails.

Jade at Alabama: We’re a little bit different than I know some bigger schools. My school is not as – I’m going to use this word – we’re not as selective as a lot of schools. Basically, if you have the ACT or SAT score and GPA to get in, you’re in. So my job, mainly, is to go to high schools, college fairs, churches, anywhere there are students, and basically, be the face and representative of my school. I am really big on telling people, “Hey, these are the programs we have. What are you interested in? Cool, this is how we can help you.” My day to day is answering questions out on the road, face to face. I don’t do a lot of looking over applications or anything.

Mercy at SocratesPost: That’s what you currently do now, and is that pretty similar to what you did at your alma mater, or do you do something different now?

Jade at Alabama: It’s a little bit different now because now I’m regional, where, with my alma mater, I traveled all over the state of Alabama. I literally recruited West Alabama, East Alabama, South Alabama, and then North Alabama, and now I’m regional to North Alabama. So I’m not traveling all over the place, but I’m still traveling a lot, because I also recruit the state of Tennessee.

Mercy at SocratesPost: You’re kind of a jetsetter, then.

Jade at Alabama: Absolutely, it was a lot of fun. Because when I worked for my alma mater, they would send me to college fairs up in New York and Pennsylvania and D.C. It was really cool because we would get students from that area. It was so funny because people would come up to my table, and they’d be like, “Alabama, do y’all wear shoes there? Do y’all ride horses?” It was great and it never failed. But then I would get to talking to them and kind of let them know, “Hey, this is our cost, this is what we offer,” and we would get a lot of students from up north.

Mercy at SocratesPost: What is the biggest challenge for you to get high schoolers interested in applying, and then matriculating after they get accepted?

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

Mercy at SocratesPost: Because then they’d be expected to go to a different part of the state where they may not know anyone.

Mercy at SocratesPost: I know some schools will look at the family income and their ability to pay tuition on one of the factors for getting in. What has been your experience in that regard?

Mercy at SocratesPost: Why do you feel like students need that extra help nowadays? Is it that they’re not getting enough support in their high schools or from their families? Why do you think that is?

Mercy at SocratesPost: It sounds like you’re doing a lot of this just kind of on your own time; it may not be your job requirement, but it seems like you just enjoy it, and you feel like there’s a need that you can fill.

Mercy at SocratesPost: So you’re the one talking to the students and telling them more about the institution. What happens after they submit the application? Are you reading any of it? Is there a path that the application takes where it goes to a reader, and then a committee, or how does that work?

Mercy at SocratesPost: What is something few people know about your job as a regional admissions officer?

Mercy at SocratesPost: One thing I want to ask, which some readers have asked me, is, how do admissions officers consider homeschooled students differently? Are those types of students ones that you encounter often or not so much?

Mercy at SocratesPost: It sounds like the one-on-one meeting is really important for them to understand the institution and the school, but also for you to get to know them as well.

Jade at Alabama: …[may not] know those little tidbit facts, like our business school’s ranked in the top 10% in the world…

Mercy at SocratesPost: Are there any reasons why a student who meets the minimum test score and GPA criteria wouldn’t get accepted?

Mercy at SocratesPost: One thing that stood out to me was the merit scholarship that your institution offers. Many institutions don’t have any sort of guaranteed scholarship, even if you meet a certain test score or GPA. How many students get those scholarships a year, approximately?

Mercy at SocratesPost: That’s really generous. There are so many families who move to a new state and try to build up their residency requirements which can take a toll on the family. So it’s great that you guys do that.

Jade at Alabama: We want to be a global institution. We’ve got 70 different countries represented on our campus. We literally have a student from every single state, at least one. We try to make it affordable for our students and make it easier to attend. We’re very proud of our school, and so just offering those things and helping students get there, are one of the ways that we’re student-focused.

Mercy at SocratesPost: You’ve talked to so many students and secondary school professionals. What strategies have you noticed are the most effective to get them excited about your institution? Is it like a presentation? Is it getting current students to talk? What do you do to get them excited?

Stay tuned for the remainder of our interview with Jade next week!


Stephan Donche a.k.a. Steph, an artist originally from the South of France, will be designing fresh, humorous college admissions-relate cartoons exclusively for SocratesPost, published only in our weekly issues! “’If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you,” Steph quotes Groucho Marx. Find more of his work and follow him on Instagram here: @life_medium_rare

Dear Socrates Q&A

This week, we selected a question from Katie, a student in Los Altos, CA:

“I have a 3.5 unweighted gpa. I got a 35 on my ACT. How will this be viewed on my college application?”

Based on our conversations with admissions officers, your 3.5 UW GPA and 35 ACT can be viewed in several ways. Here are three ways three different admissions officers would view it:

1. Your test scores are high, but your GPA could be seen as unimpressive and may not earn merit awards.

Linda Hernandez, admissions officer at Concordia University in Chicago told SocratesPost in an exclusive interview: “Students with low test scores and awesome GPAs also always amaze me…The unweighted GPA is used to determined merit scholarship amount.”

You have the opposite: high test scores and a comparatively lower GPA. An admissions officer like Linda might have wanted to see a higher GPA from you so you’d be more competitive for a merit scholarship.

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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:

  • Which college is accused of “weeding out” applicants with potential mental illnesses?
  • Why did an elite university call the cops on their own students?
  • What’s the most surprising aspect of this former admissions dean’s experience?

Get answers below.

April 29, 2019 — New College Of Florida.

Two former admissions workers at New College of Florida complained that the school’s admissions tactics discriminated against applicants who mentioned mental illnesses. The complainants noted tactics like flagging apps with essays on psychological challenges and requiring a second review, or even outright rejections of students who were otherwise qualified for admission. There is an ongoing investigation.

What does this mean? Writing about your psychological challenges (whether in the essays or additional information section of the college app) can still be risky. While some readers might consider it an impressive feat to overcome or manage these challenges, others like the New College of Florida may discriminate against you. Be careful of how you portray your mental illnesses.