Member View: Personal Reflection is Key in College Search


NACAC member Ann McDermott wants students to put their best foot forward in the application process.

During a recent NPR broadcast, McDermott — director of admissions at the College of the Holy Cross (MA) — offered three simple tips for applicants: engage, reflect, and make your essay count.

Visiting campus and crafting a thoughtful personal statement show college officials that students are seriously considering their school.

But before teens begin submitting applications, they should make time for personal reflection, McDermott said.

“I think students should spend a little bit of time thinking about what they liked in high school, what they didn’t like, who they are,” McDermott told NPR.

Too often, teens approach the college admission process by “rushing off and looking at schools and getting in the frenzy,”
McDermott added.

Instead, she encourages students to start their search by thinking about the type of college experience they want. The schools they apply to should fit that profile.

“Just like a teacher in the classroom wants a student engaged, we want students engaged in the process with us,” McDermott said. “I think it makes for better discernment of what a good fit is for both them and for us.”

Listen to the full story and access more tips for students at NACAC’s National College Fair website.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

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