Seeing the College Application from the Inside

By Dr. Elena Olsen, College Counselor

We will host our annual Mock Admissions Night for families of juniors on April 18th. This is one of the College Counseling team’s favorite events, as it is both fun and deeply informative. We will host a panel of distinguished admissions deans from colleges and universities across the country, and parents and students will get to spend an evening interacting with them. Students will read four application files from “mock” students applying to the (fictional) Fairview College, and will decide who gets in and who doesn’t. They will do this in small “admissions committee” groups, headed by one of our visiting admissions deans. This process will give an inside look into both the components of a college application and the admissions process.  Students will begin thinking about how they will come across in their own applications. How do the different pieces of an application—GPA, transcript, personal statement, resume—come together to tell a story? What factors might play into an admissions decision that are not at all related to the merit of any individual application? How does an application “read” come in the context of the needs, values, and structures of each individual college? While students are serving on the admissions committees, parents will have the opportunity to have a question-and-answer discussion with some of the admissions deans. No matter how many times we might answer a question, sometimes it feels good to have the question answered by an actual admissions dean, with years of experience at a variety of schools!


Because Mock Admissions Night is such a rich learning experience, we encourage every junior and family to attend. And, despite what may now feel like rising anxiety about the college process, this experience will leave both students and parents feeling good about what they’re about to embark on. We promise.  Much of what we do as college counselors, in events like these and when we meet with you one-on-one, is to provide perspective, information, and affirmation. The experience on April 18th will provide all of those things in a truly substantive way. And it will remind all of us that the college process is, in the end, a human one, and a humane one.