Admission Officers Offer Advice to Prospective Students


High school seniors across the country are kicking their college search into high gear.

What should they focus on as they work to submit their applications?

This summer, The Washington Post asked dozens of admission professionals about the advice they’d like to give prospective applicants.

Responses included:

“Essays can help an admission committee better understand the individual and how he or she will add to the campus community. They are also an opportunity for us to evaluate a student’s ability to communicate through the written format. Whether you major in physics, history or business, you’ll need to write and be able to share thoughts and ideas with your professors and fellow students.”
— NACAC member Tim Wolfe, associate provost for enrollment and dean of admissions, College of William & Mary (VA)

“Concentrate not on being the best candidate, but on being the best person. Pay attention to what is going on in the world around you. If you do those things, not only will the world be a better place because you’re in it, your greatest admissions worry will be choosing which college to pick from.”
— NACAC member Martha Blevins Allman, dean of admissions, Wake Forest University (NC)

“Nothing is more important than a high school transcript showing strong academic performance in a solid curriculum. We want to admit students who will persist to college graduation, so knowing that you can do the work starts with a thorough review of high-school performance.”
— NACAC member Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid, Lawrence University (WI)

“If you had a bad semester or a bad year, and your cumulative GPA doesn’t reflect your ability or your overall high school career, still apply, but talk about the decline in your grades in your application. It is a pet peeve when we see an anomaly in grades and the student never addresses this. Tell us what happened and how you turned it around.”
— NACAC member Toni Riley, director of undergraduate admission, Illinois Institute of Technology

“Keep in touch with us. Students who keep in touch with us themselves build better relationships with our admissions counselors. Getting to know students on a personal level is one of our most rewarding experiences and really helps us to advocate for you when it’s time to make offers of admission.”
— NACAC member Meaghan Arena, vice president for enrollment management, State University of New York at Geneseo

Read the full story and check out  student and parent resources on NACAC’s National College Fairs webpage.

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

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