Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dear College Admissions Director




Dear Admissions Director

Sometime soon, you and your counterparts at several other colleges will be reviewing my son's application for admission to your institution. As his mom I have few thoughts I would like to share with you.

First let me say that I know you have a difficult job. You literally can't take everyone. Ironically, if you did take everyone, then you wouldn't be a school that everybody wants to attend. But there are a few things about my son's application I wish to point out to you.

Your website and recruiting materials all claim that while grades are important they are not a sole determining factor. Please remember that when you look over the boy's transcript. He's an excellent student, but not brilliant. He is especially not a good test taker. He had a hard time with some of his classes early on but did better the last two years. He attends an urban school whose prime focus is on getting kids to finish high school and graduate. They have limited resources for the kids who pass all the graduation tests their freshman year. But he has taken the AP and honors. classes where offered. His teachers love him, even when he doesn't do well in their class.  He only needed to take 2 classes this year to graduate, but he is taking 4 AP classes this year, partly to show he can do college level work.

Here is what your transcripts won't tell you:

He is compassionate (Well except maybe to his little sister).  He is drawn to help people.  He allowed himself to be dressed up as a purple dinosaur (Not Barney) for a breakfast for former patients of our local children's hospital.   He likes doing these things.

He is a natural leader.  Other kids follow him by example.  He has taken leadership training in Scouts and then come back the next year and helped conduct the course.  He teaches others well, with an enthusiasm they catch. He wants to do the right thing.

He is curious. He wants to learn new things.

He's a good worker. He's an average athlete, but he is a 4 year letter man in baseball because his coaches respect his work ethic and sense of fair play.  He has been a team captain since he was a sophomore.

He is applying for your college's history program. He has a gift for it. I don't just mean the gift of keeping all the names and facts in order, though he has that too.  I mean the ability to put himself in a particular moment and fell he is there, and communicate the feeling to others.  It's a gift I don't want to see wasted. 

He has a great feeling for places too. He carefully researched your school before applying, not only the programs, but your locations, your alumni, the history of the area around you.  He wants to attend your school. 

So I hope I consider all this when you look at that application.  Look beyond his ACT score (remember what I said about test taking?)  and his great but not tops in his class grades.  Try to see the potential he has, what a great person he could become at a fine institution like yours.

On behalf of my son, and all the kids applying for schools this year, I thank you.

His Mom


42 comments:

  1. Hopefully his essay was just as passionate!

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  2. Oh, I hope that he gets what he wants here -- he's got a great cheerleader mom behind him!

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    1. :well thank you...if we don't support them who will?

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  3. As a former middle school teacher who gave as few tests as I was able, and did not give grades, I 100% support this letter, and I hope the college admissions counselor is in agreement too. He sounds like a great kid.

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    1. You know its all done on computer now, which makes it even harder to see the young man or woman behind the paperwork.

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  4. I sure hope he gets in! The whole process of applying for schools (or jobs, for that matter) is so impersonal and arbitrary. How can you possibly put a whole person's life and essence and potential onto a piece of paper?

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    1. Exacrkly, and like many boys, especially, he's more expressive in person than on paper. I wouldn't want to be the person who makes the decisions.

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  5. I get the feeling, that whether on not your letter had the ability to sway their decision, your son will do alright. He sounds like one of the good ones. You have every right to be proud! :)

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    1. Thanks Ken, he is a great kid, though I am somewhat biased.

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  6. Totally send that. It's perfect. Fingers crossed for him!

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    1. Sadly, they don't have a biox on the computer for "parental input" (except for the part where they ask how poor you are).

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  7. He's lucky to have a mom like you. Reading this made me extra thankful that my college application days are behind me.

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    1. I just went to the local college that had to take anyone who had a degree. He's a little more ambitious.

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  8. Good luck to him! That's a stressful time.

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    1. Thank you. Most colleges don't send out their letters out till February so we have a few more weeks of nail biting.

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  9. I think you should send it too! What a great letter. And he's a great kid. Someday when he's no longer a teenager, he's going to really appreciate this. I hope he gets in. I have a feeling he will.

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    1. Thanks Mod Mom. I think I will put a copy in his high school scrapbook, for just that reason.

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  10. If only getting into college weren't so impersonal and standardized! I felt you, every word of that letter.

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    1. They all talk in their recruiting material about the total student, but it doesn't feel that way on the application. Especially now that they use theCommon Application, its even harder to convey why this person wants this school.

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  11. This totally conveys all of the things we feel as mothers. Well done. I hope he gets in.

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    1. Thank you Christie, thats what I was striving for.

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  12. Your son sounds like a very well rounded human being. I'll cross my fingers and toes for you.

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    1. Thank you...if at least one college says yes that would be awesome. It would be even better if he has to choose.

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  13. Good luck. I think a lot of universities look at activities that applicants are involved in, especially public service, to find the very qualities you are describing. And if they don't, then their loss- there are plenty of other, frankly more affordable options. College is what you make of it anyways.

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    1. That's exactly what we are hoping for.

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  14. With a mom like you, he can't go wrong, no matter where he ends up going to college. From my own personal experience, I think a lot of the big, hot-shot colleges are over-rated, especially for first time students.

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    1. Thank you. The problem with the local mega university is that its huge, with lots of lecture and tv and computer classes, which is not his besr learning enviorment. A smaller school would suit better, but they, naturally are more selective. He does usually and on his feet though, no matter what.

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  15. I hope he's accepted wherever he applies and gets to decide on his favorite place to go.

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    1. If one school of his choice accepts him that's great, actually getting to choose would be awesome.

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  16. Good luck to your son! He sounds like an awesome kid.

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  17. I feel your pain. We did this all last fall (2011). I remember the deadline for the school my son was apply early admin for was November 1. Halloween night, I was proofing his application a final time (online right) in between answering the door for trick-or-treaters. It was crazy. Sounds like you have a wonderful young man. I remember just hoping he got the school he wanted because he wanted it so badly. Best of luck and let us know how it turns out.

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    1. It iscrazy. We were doing some of his online stuff on New Year's Eve for the same reason. He spent months researching colleges before he created his shortlist. He got rejected by his first choice for early admission, now we are waiting on regular admission from that school and four others. Like your son, he just wants in so badlt.

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  18. I LOVE THIS. You are a great mom. And I really really hope I will be able to write something this glowing when my son applies to college (in about fifteen years). And... so many kids have troubles with tests that they don't have with actual material and learning. I hate standardized tests especially and think they're baloney. (And I'm a teacher, so there you go.)

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    1. Thanks Dilovely. We have to go through all this again in 4 years with our 13 yr old...andshe is aiming for an Arts major at this point so we will have whole augition thing to deal with too.

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  19. Good luck to your son! I have a junior so we are about to do this thing too. It's so much more intimating than it was 30 years ago!

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    1. Much more intimidating. I was the first in my family to go to college and wemt to the local state university. Pop 20,000. They took everyone with a diploma so no trauma or anxiety (except over financial aid!) Good luck to your junior.

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  20. If I'm in charge of admissions, he is definitely in! I hope he wrote about being a purple dinosaur for one of his essays. What a great story!

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    1. Actually he did...on an essay about "What did you do to make adifferancein the world?"

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  21. I wish we as moms could bestow on schools and teachers - the way we see our children. Excellent!

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    1. Thank you Julie. The college applications process is such a roller coaster ride for the whole family. In the end he didn't get the first choice school. but did get into another similar school and so far really likes it. In a couple years we'll start over with his sister.

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