The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips title=
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips
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By Dr. Gina La Monica

What is the secret to successfully being admitted to a highly selective private college? In reviewing many senior college admissions decisions, I found that college admission decisions varied greatly among the applicants even though students had similar attributes. At a meeting with a college admissions team from a prestigious institution, tips for success were revealed.

Demonstrated interest was repeatedly mentioned among the admissions folks. Colleges want students who express curiosity about their institution. This might involve attending an admissions forum online or submitting questions to the assigned regional admissions staff member. Navigating through their college website and signing up for email notifications are other outstanding ways to show your interest. However, going on a tour of the campus and meeting with your respective admissions person is probably the best way to illustrate how enthusiastic you are about the university. If the college allows interviews, this is also beneficial not only in the admissions process but to obtain a better understanding of the school. Not only do all these actions strengthen your chances of being admitted, but simultaneously educate students on the college community and culture assisting in better ascertaining if they are a “good fit” for this campus.

Slate is the software that admissions and enrollment management staff use to track web activity for every prospective student such as when a college email is opened or not, how many times a college website is visited, and whether a form is submitted for an admissions event to name a few of the items tracked. Collectively, a dashboard is created for each applicant populated with all these data points ranking each student on perceived interest. This assists admissions and enrollment management staff with an algorithm that can predict if a student will enroll if admitted. Therefore, a student can generate a dashboard of considerable interest by exhausting these actions and many more increasing their score in this area. Up to 75% of college applicants are admissible. Almost all students nowadays have extremely elevated grade point averages of over 4.0 weighted. As a result, colleges must add additional factors, such as demonstrated interest, to identify who to admit for their next freshmen class.

Additionally, colleges are looking for students who can bring unique qualities to their campuses. Each year, in search of diversity and inclusion, admissions staff seek to create a cohort comprised of students who have intriguing passions and interests that complement the college community. Hence, the activities section of the college application is an influential aspect of the admissions decision-making process. What activities has the student been a part of and will they want to continue this interest in their college years? Institutions want active students who will unquestionably contribute to their new college environment.

Other important factors the admissions staff look for in college applications are strong letters of recommendation from teachers within their proposed major that detail a student’s interest in learning and essays that are well written and tell a story about the applicant giving them further insight about the person.   


Dr. Gina La Monica has a Doctorate in Education and has worked as a high school counselor, college administrator, and professor at many universities and colleges including the University of California, Los Angeles, California Lutheran University, California State University, Northridge, San Diego State University, etc. She was a tenured professor and an expert in career technical education and adult learning. She currently teaches at a local college and helps students of all ages from kindergarten to the university level with career exploration, college admissions, learning assessment, tutoring, and education plans. 

College and Career Advisement
Dr. Gina La Monica
(818) 359-0859
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fitz May 28, 2022 02:03 PM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

So much of this is nonsense. Here are the stories of our family members from a bi-coastal perspective. One niece with a mother a graduate of Harvard/Stanford did not get into any highly ranked schools. All AP classes (tutors throughout, etc). She is going to Bucknell. One nephew from Ca. in regular classes in Hermosa Beach got into every UC he applied to but will go to university in Canada (dual citizenship via his father). Another niece from NH will pay full tuition at U. of Arizona....she got rejected from every UC school she applied to. Another nephew will go to Clemson....he applied to many East Coast universities and got rejected or wait listed from most.....To put it in perspective, one local Allan Hancock graduate got into all UCs he applied to. will go to UCLA and get a full ride. I think all this 'coaching'/tutoring is a lot of BS.

RHS May 28, 2022 06:08 PM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

Fitz, are you just pulling our leg(s)? This commentary has to be satire. OR you are a true snob. Why is a graduate of Allan Hancock College not be welcomed into the UC systems. Hancock and UCLA and all are supported by CA taxpayers and should primarily benefit CA residents. All the money your family allegedly spent on tutors and such demonstrates the inequity of the system. Do you realize that most high school students do not have such resources to pad their resume. First generation college students also do not have family members who are alumna of the desirable schools and so cannot match your family's claims to admission. Is that objectionable to you? Or, as I suggested up front, are you just trying out a draft article for The Onion?

a-1653811420 May 29, 2022 01:03 AM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

Fitz What is the issue here? Kids in California, especially those graduating from a community college should get priority. Parent alumni status should not have anything to do with admissions, neither should money donated. It’s about time this nonsense stopped.

Basicinfo805 May 28, 2022 04:38 PM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

I think the real BS is what has happened with grade inflation (everyone’s above a 4.0?!) and elimination of the SAT’s. Nowadays you need to tell a good story if you want to get in to competitive schools.

Basicinfo805 May 29, 2022 07:28 AM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

I was valedictorian of the largest high school in the area, since you asked. My point is that if everyone’s getting A’s and there’s no standardized test, what are we going by?

Thomas John May 29, 2022 08:47 AM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

For the UCs it's GPA and your essays now. To GeneralTree's point - the SAT has issues that need to be addressed. But in my opinion, they should have come up with some sort of alternative before the UC's and Cal State's quit using it.

PdW May 29, 2022 08:50 AM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

Getting rid of the SAT was rash. They should have made some changes but not get rid of it. Kind of like getting rid of honors at SB schools. It’s shortsighted and illogical.

Luvaduck May 29, 2022 08:05 AM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

The saddest thing is that unless you train in a super high-paying specialty or get a ton of scholarships, athletic grants or have wealthy parents, you spend the next 25 years paying off college loans. It's particularly true of middle-class kids. Their parents scrap what they can from their retirements funds, get a second morgage, kids work so many hours they don't have time for sleep.

dukemunson May 29, 2022 09:38 AM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

We do wildly celebrate the idea of going to your dream college that we lose sight of what actually makes sense. Sure you got into your dream liberal arts private school…. But doing two years at CC or one of cali’s great state schools often makes a lot more sense.

CoastWatch May 29, 2022 09:27 AM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

18-22 is the perfect age to go into the military- Whether it be the Coast Guard or other services... When you get out, you can attend a University and the military will cover a large portion of your education... You will have a "step -up" on most of your fellow students with regard to job experience, self discipline as well as have "points earned" in many fields of employment-particularly, in civil service opportunities. Unfortunately, our culture "neuters" these options for young men and women. There is also the option of trade schools, where you WILL find high wage employment generally after 2 years of training...

Thomas John May 29, 2022 06:56 PM
The Mystery of College Admissions: Insider Tips

Coastwatch, I agree with you that the trades are a great path. But you keep saying in all of your posts about the "high wages" you can get. Could you expand on that? Maybe with some numbers $$$? From my very limited viewpoint, I don't see the majority of the tradespeople making high wages. The folks running the companies seem to be. But again, I might be way off.

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