• May 7, 2023

Red flags

When the admissions staff at elite colleges have to examine an ever increasing number of applications without the benefit of more time, it comes as no surprise that applications are rejected more quickly. With that in mind, here are some items that can be perceived as red flags when they review applications:

  1. Unrealistic involvement / exaggerated achievements – This can happen in several ways. Examples include: i) an unreasonably high number of hours spent on ECs; ii) impressive achievement title without actual content to substantiate.
  2. Inauthentic essays – Because of the pervasiveness of ghostwriting, admission staffs are trained to look for essays that do not come across as genuine.
  3. Quality of recommendation – Admissions staffs are not impressed by celebrity recommendations. They would rather read something of substance by someone who knows the applicant well in an environment where merit counts.
  4. Show off – Submitting more than the requested number of letters of recommendation or taking multiple extra AP exams unrelated to desired area of study can come across as ‘trying too hard’.

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