Image admissions offices are mysterious entities. Most high school students have no idea how they work, who they are, and yet these offices hold the key to getting into Harvard.
Below, I'll demystify college admissions offices and describe a few inside secrets about them.
1) They are not a bunch of old, white-haired people with tweed jackets sitting in a room smoking cigars while reading your Common Application. In fact, most college admissions offices are comprised of relatively young college graduates who went through the admissions process themselves not too long ago
2) College admissions committees do not throw a dart on the wall to determine who gets into Stanford, who goes on the waitlist, and who is rejected. The deliberation process is long, arduous, and can seem arbitrary, but is actually fairly technical and numbers-based
3) Each school has a different deliberation process. Most colleges have regional review cycles (the case for most Ivy League schools) – which means that there are specific persons assigned to regions of the US and foreign countries to review all applications coming from that region. This helps application readers build location-specific knowledge
4) Borderline candidate decisions are usually made by committee – which means that on certain days, you may get into Yale, but on others, you'll be waitlisted. This may worry you – but instead of focusing on things out of your control, focus on what you CAN control – your essays, your teacher recommendations, your extracurricular activities. If you have a strong enough application – and I provide a lot of last-minute college application tips on my blog – you will maximize your chances of going to your dream school
Hope that helps!