16 College Admission Officers Shared Some Secrets And Stories From On The Job, And They're Shocking And Unsurprising At The Same Time
"Students get admitted by accident. Unless it’s a really severe mistake, they probably will keep their admission."
Recently, we asked the college admissions officers of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us some secrets and stories from on the job. Here's what they had to say.
DISCLAIMER: Obviously, we can't 100% confirm all of these stories, but these people are supposedly speaking from their own experiences as alleged employees.
1. "I worked in admissions at a Top 30 school in the US. I once saw a student get preemptively rejected for sending in loose glitter with her interview thank you note (not maliciously, just festively)."
"Of course, the glitter got EVERYWHERE, the custodian was pissed, and my boss came to yell at us all. When we pointed out that it came in the mail, he told us to pull her file and reject her then and there. It was considered 'bad judgment' and he never wanted to deal with this person on campus."
2. "Students get admitted by accident. Unless it’s a really severe mistake, they probably will keep their admission."
3. "Be nice to us. We can and will — I have! — withdraw an offer made to you if you repeatedly swear or make derogatory comments at us. We don’t want assholes in our university!"
4. "Helicopter parents were the absolute worst. You aren’t helping your child by calling the school, and in fact, the student not making any effort on their own behalf will work against them as an applicant."
5. "We don't look all that closely at your personal statements so I wouldn't sweat it."
"Normally, the department will tell us a couple of things they want applicants to have included in it (such as your work experience and your future aspirations), and we'll just scan it to make sure those things are mentioned. It's kinda sad 'cause I know that people will have spent hours working on it, and we normally don't even read it all the way through."
6. "Do your research. Is the school you want to attend accredited? Do you know what it takes to start your desired career? I can't tell you how many times I heard someone who wants to be a psychologist and then they freak out when I tell them they will more than likely need a Masters degree or above, PLUS a license."
7. "We had a dad once who, no word of a lie, called EVERY DAY about his daughter. She qualified for the waitlist, but no one wanted to have to take her dad's calls every day, so she got rejected in the hopes that he'd move on."
8. "There is a lot we can’t tell parents once your kid is 18. It’s AGAINST THE LAW for us to tell you anything other than to confirm their enrollment. Can’t tell you grades, what classes they’re in, whether they’re attending classes. If your kid isn’t talking to you and sharing that information with you, that’s your problem with them."
9. "It really is about who you know."
"Legacy students (many generations attended the school) would always get accepted. Sometimes people with great test scores and grades would not be admitted for no good reason."
10. "Some applicants would send the most unnecessary materials to the school in hopes of making them stand out."
"One person emailed a 45-minute video of their Model UN conference, which I couldn’t even upload to their record and I knew no one would even look at. Another person sent their skydiving certification card??? So kids, really think about the mature thing to do when applying to college, not just trying to stand apart from the crowd!"
11. "My aunt works in admissions at a very selective school. The process is split between two groups of works there: grunt workers who weed out under-qualified students (and who look for certain red flags in essays, like plagiarism and poor spelling/grammar), and the admissions counselors who actually read through the apps that got through the first round."
12. "Admission Appeals is where the pleading comes in. It only happened a few times, but some appeals would be received with money stapled, which would simply be returned to applicant."
13. "Athletes get held to a way lower standard when it comes to admissions requirements. To be fair, they also get access to a lot more resources for success than the average kid."
14. "I worked at a top university in Scotland and the amount of bribes I had been offered or the, ‘do you know who I am/I’m a friend of so-and-so’ spat at me was ridiculous."
15. "One thing that’s really important to know is that at schools with really low acceptance rates, probably 50-60% of the applicants are equally qualified, and only 5-10% will be admitted."
"Once you’ve reached the bar of 'qualified,' it entirely depends on who else applies since they want to have a lot of diversity in skills, interests, majors, backgrounds, etc. It also depends on things like what the person reading your application had for breakfast that morning and whether they’re fighting with their girlfriend. All you can do is make sure you’re qualified and that your application is as representative of you as possible, but rejections really shouldn’t be taken personally because at some point, they’re totally random and out of your control."
16. And "When I worked in admissions, we placed a lot of importance on class rank."
"If your dream school still requires the SAT or ACT, those scores matter. Your essays don't matter much, truthfully; it's about proving you can write at a reasonable level more than anything. Most likely, there were more qualified students than available spots, and you lost out for some arbitrary reason that has nothing to do with your ability to succeed or contribute at that or any other campus. You have what it takes; the numbers just weren't on your side in this case."
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.