The former senior associate director of admissions at Yale University reveals what it all comes down to when deciding whom to admit.
We want to share some insights from Lloyd Peterson, former senior
associate director of admissions at Yale, former dean of admissions
at Vassar College and director of education at College Coach.
We asked Peterson what the decision comes down to once admission
officers have everything about the applicant, including their essay,
laid out in front of them. He says, “In the end we often have to ask
very nuanced questions about each applicant. There are three major
categories that we ask about.
“First, is this a good institution-to-student fi t? Is your value system in
line with that of my institution? Colleges and universities can be like
teenagers. They all have their own personalities, and we want to make
sure that a student would thrive in the environment of our school.
“Second, can the student do the work? This is pretty obvious, and
many students meet this requirement—but then again some will do
better than others.
“Finally, can our school meet the student’s needs outside of the
classroom? We want to make sure that you will be happy."
But where do you find these answers? Peterson admits, “Most of
these answers do not come from transcripts and SATs."
This has some important implications. If you are a student with high
grades and test scores, you can’t rely on these alone to get you into
college. If you have less-than-perfect scores and grades, don’t give
up without even trying.
No matter which type of student you are, use your essay and the
rest of your application to make a strong case for yourself and convince
admission officers like Peterson that you deserve to be at their