Important Info from an Admissions Expert

May 23, 2013
May 23, 2013 ACS

High school students should look for every advantage they can get to make themselves more marketable during the college application and admissions process. The Sacramento Bee recently ran an article about an interview conducted with Dr. Oliver McGee, who worked for five years on the Faculty Admissions Committee at Ohio State University. He is considered an expert on the college admissions process and often gives parents, teachers and counselors tips and advice on getting into college.

Here are some key points Dr. McGee had during the interview about the college admissions process.

Dr. McGee was asked how far ahead of time should a student begin working on his or her college application.

Dr. McGee stated that “a student must begin working on his or her college application about a year in advance to gain insights into themselves and their desire for a college education through advice and counsel of parents, teachers, student colleagues, mentors, and extracurricular activity counselors, coaches, and coordinators.”

He added that the application process falls into three “buckets of work.”

  1. Dr. McGee said that a high school student “should always select challenging classes. Admissions counselors will read your transcripts very carefully to identify what classes were offered to you and what classes you ultimately chose.” And, he noted that if a high school student doesn’t “choose advanced courses,” but does “well on the SAT or ACT, you appear intellectually lazy because you didn’t challenge yourself day-in and day-out in your classes.”
  2. As for summer activities, Dr. McGee suggested that students should “make sure to spend your summers wisely: volunteer, work, attend college and university summer programs, be a camp counselor, or take summer school classes.” He added that “admissions counselors are eager to understand how you spent your time, because they want students who will contribute to their college or university.”
  3. Finally, Dr. McGee said that students should “plan to spend quality time the summer before your junior year, using tools like Naviance to research colleges and universities.”

Dr. McGee was also asked during the interview if there are any essay topics he gets tired of seeing or would warn students to stay away from.

His advice is to “avoid writing about how someone inspired you, because the risk is that you will spend most of the essay writing about that person rather than about yourself. This won’t help the admissions counselor get to know YOU.”

Lastly, Dr. McGee was asked what the biggest mistake a student can make on a college application.

  1. Dr. McGee said to never “lie” and added, “Why start out one’s college career with academic misconduct?”
  2. The second piece of advice Dr. McGee had was to avoid “submitting the application on the deadline.” He explained that “this just increases the likelihood for problems as colleges and university admissions teams must print your entire application” and “why place your application inside that ‘last minute company?'”
  3. Dr. McGee also suggested to avoid “writing less than the maximum number of words on the essay.”
  4. Another point Dr. McGee said was that a student shouldn’t think about “skipping the optional essay” and added, “Why miss the opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you better?”
  5. Finally, he explained that you can’t ever forget to proofread and to “have your parents read your essay backwards to look for spelling errors. And ask your parents to read your essays a couple of times for grammatical errors.”

If you have any questions about the college admissions process, please contact us and we can help in a variety of ways to get you prepared for the college of your dreams.




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