Inside the college admissions office
Listen as an NPR reporter gains access to the secret room where the Amherst College admissions committee decides the fate of thousands of applicants. NPR reports that the college will accept 1,000 of the 8,000 applicants who applied. This glimpse into the process reveals that decisions truly come down to the smallest little differences that students never in a million years would think were going to make the difference. This recording underscores the importance of the personal statement. The college essay will be the first opportunity most students encounter to present themselves on paper. The essay truly can be the difference between acceptance and rejection. Unfortunately, often students are told to "be honest" or "write about something that "means a lot to you" or "show them how passionate you are" and then students sit down to do that and they have no idea what to do. At that point they generally write something that is forced and boring. Since the high school English teachers are so swamped and they don't have experience reading applications often they simply make minor corrections on the essays or point out grammatical mistakes. There is no way they can possibly put the time necessary into reading every student's essay. In the end, the sad truth is that the people who can afford outside consultants who know the system really well are the ones who experience the most success.