Ok, I’m not going to lie and tell you Admission–based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel of the same name–was the best movie I ever saw, or even that it made my top 10. But I will say that if you’re currently playing the college admissions game—meaning you’re a college-bound high school student or parent—you NEED to see this movie. (Yeah, and it doesn’t hurt that both Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are in it!) The movie is about a fictitious Princeton admissions officer and what it takes to get in to college these days. Here are eight reasons why you need to see it, eight elements in the Game the movie beautifully dramatizes:
- Transcripts are king. The STARTING point for every candidate in the application evaluation process is grades and courses. Scores, activities, and community service obviously factor in, but nothing bolsters your chances for success like high marks in school. Take care of your course work FIRST.
- SAT (and ACT and other standardized test) Scores DO count. Whether you believe in these tests as a measure of anything worth measuring, or you’re a complete skeptic like me, the bottom line is schools that require them COUNT them significantly in the process. Be well prepared and design a testing strategy that works well for YOU.
- Demonstrate your interest in colleges by visiting the school and building relationships with school reps. Schools want to know whether you’ve visited campus (how many times?), been to an info sessions, taken a tour, had a campus or alumni interview, sat in on any classes, spent time on their website, and liked any school FB pages and Twitter feeds. These are the ways to SHOW, rather than simply claim, your interest.
- Be Genuine. Figure out who you are and be THAT. Admissions officers are trained to sniff out BS, so rather than expending energy and time trying to figure out what you think they want to hear, invest in self-reflection and translating who you REALLY are to the various slots on the application. As Tina Fey’s character says, “If this is the right place for you, this is where you will end up.”
- Leave the Bundt cake at home. In one of the many hysterical clips in the movie, an overzealous dad chases after Tina Fey’s character with a Bundt cake as she tries desperately to pull away in her car (see clip above). Fey’s exasperated look and the dad’s pathetic (albeit understandable) attempt to win her over with cash and prizes drives home the points that officers can grow annoyed with in-your-face applicants and parents, even those bearing edible gifts.
- They really do PRINT and READ your file folders. It is imperative you spend QUALITY TIME writing, editing, proofreading, re-writing, and polishing every word you submit to colleges. They won’t miss anything. Get professional help with this, as application preparation is both a science and an art. CollegePrepExpress would be an excellent choice, and we’ve got several 5-day CommonApp Boot Camps this summer and next fall to help you get yours done…right!
- Show your passion. Passion is the most commonly used and the most important word in the college application process. If you can effectively communicate what really thrills you, what passions you have developed in your high school career, what’s likely to drive you forwardafter you arrive on a college campus, you’re going to do well in this game. To do so requires thoughtful self-reflection, not trying to be impressive or contriving anecdotes.
- Make them fall in love with you. My personal favorite line in the whole movie comes from the head admissions officer, eager to admit the next student to the incoming class, to the rest of his staff as they’re making final decisions: “Make us fall in love.” So that’s your job—in addition to your passions, figure out what’s most lovable about you and SHOW that side to the admissions officers…then you’ll be golden.
Remember, we’re here to help. 🙂