Behind the Scenes Admissions Decisions

What really goes on in the minds of college admissions officers

By Kelsey Ichikawa | Staff Writer

It’s that time of year.  The moment of truth, when you finally get that letter which happens to look like every other piece of junk mail you recycled in your junior year but which supposedly holds the news to which you’ve been working towards since birth—is it a yes or no?  Fly or no go?  Did you get accepted into that college or not?  There are 4 possible answers:

  1. “We really, really like you as a person buuuut it’s just not going to work out at this time. It’s not you, it’s us.  We know you’ll find the perfect school who will really treat you right, and that’s just not us honey.”
  2. “We like you enough to prolong your agony by adding your name to our waitlist.”
  3. “We’re pleased to inform you that we have accepted your application!  Congratulations, your life has now been fulfilled.  Please prepare yourself to work 104 times harder so you can get those good grades and get a good job and a good house so your kids can go to a good college.”

Come fall, regardless of whether you matriculate in your dream school or don’t pursue higher education just yet, it’s helpful to be aware of the filter process in colleges’ admissions departments.  The Voice staff investigated the most heavily weighted criteria in admissions officers’ final decisions, and here’s what we discovered:

  • How well do you fit on our campus?  What colleges really mean by this is: Are you shorter than average and would find walking around campus challenging because you can’t see over other students’ heads?  Do you like booze and parties (both of which are integral parts of our culture)?
  • What kind of person are you really?  Are you the kind of person who always courteously changes out empty toilet paper rolls in the bathroom?  When taking the Rorschach ink test, do you see a cat OR our school’s logo?  If another university offered you a full-ride scholarship, are you the type of sleazebag who would choose them over us and our $80,000 fees?
  • Dedication.  Colleges want to read statements like: “I’ve been so busy taking 15 concurrent APs, ending hunger in the Dominican Republic, and identifying new planets that I haven’t slept for 30 days straight.”
  • Leadership.  If you haven’t usurped a corrupt government and established your own dictatorship, don’t even bother applying.
  • We want a diverse student body!  What’s better than being Hispanic, African American, or that mysterious “Decline to answer” ethnicity?  Being purple.  Purple people are so underrepresented in today’s universities.

It’s also important to note certain quantifiable thresholds you must pass:

  • Facebook profile picture: In order to be considered, must be >150 likes.
  • # times you’ve enrolled in summer school: You should have retaken every course at least twice, but thrice is recommended.  This demonstrates genuine curiosity and love of learning.

22.7 humor college upload

Caption: The real reason behind that rejection is that you aren’t purple enough.