LQ – Key Factors to Consider When Narrowing Down Applications

| podcast

In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt discusses a listener question about how applicants should narrow their choice college for where to submit their applications.



VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 


AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. This is Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and Elite Admissions Expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. Today we’re going to be answering the question, “What are some key factors students should consider when narrowing down which colleges to apply to”? Now, you may have very practical reasons to narrow your school list. It could be cost, geography, size, and feasibility of getting in. But once you’ve done the pragmatic work of narrowing your options, remember that it’s not about finding the best college. It’s about finding the best college for you. Here’s some super practical advice on ways you can find the right college for you below or five questions you can ask yourself when scouting colleges. They’re designed to help you learn about institutions, values, and priorities. Do they match up with your own? For instance, let’s pretend you’re interested in going to Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business. You owe it to yourself to do some research. So here’s the first question you can ask yourself: “What is the college’s character and culture”? So to answer this, you want to head over to the university’s “About” page on their website and “check out our mission and vision’ or something to that effect. A school mission statement is likely to be several paragraphs long, but you might find one sentence or two that summarizes it. CMU Tepper School’s mission vision reads like this: “The Tepper School of Business is committed to improving the critical thinking and leadership capabilities of individuals, so to enhance their value to business and society”. Hey, that’s a bit dry, but you know, it’s a business school. The motto of the school is a short phrase saying that captures the school’s history, character, and culture. It provides a sense of the school’s values in educational philosophies. CMU’s motto is, “my heart is in the work”. For me, this phrase suggests that we can’t separate the core of who we are from what we do. Does this sound like you? Perhaps you’re more philosophically minded and believe we’re a lot more important than just the work we end up doing in the world. If a school’s motto doesn’t align with your own internal compass, it may be best to choose a different school. Now, again, this is dry, but you can interpret what this motto admission might look like in your own life. Question two: “What are the college’s strategicals for the next few years”? So here you want to check for the University’s publish strategic plans. It’s a very long document. It announces an intention to support certain programs and resources, and most important for you, students who can take advantage of those programs and resources. Some college presence may be looking to enhance community engagement, while others may be looking to advance global opportunities. For Carnegie Mellon and Tepper, key priorities are to foster innovation and to use data for social good. This means that Tepper may be interested in students, have launched a nonprofit, have worked with big data, or are highly engaged in volunteer work. Does that sound like you? If so, awesome! You can wow this admissions committee by showing them that you understand the link between your passions and experiences with the school stated goals. In turn, CMU can provide you with resources, opportunities, and academic programs to help you go to the next level. Question three: “What are the academic choices and how are they structured”? So, does the school use block scheduling, which is when you have a short but tens of classes or traditional semesters? Does the school emphasize a core curriculum or a lack of a core curriculum? And what about the major or the topics you’re interested in; what kind of research or students of faculty doing so? Before you answer this question, think about what you might like to major in and check out those academic programs. Would going to the school that you have in mind adequately prepare you for a future in that field? At Carnegie Mellon and Tepper, there are 10 concentrations to choose from, and the faculty hopes that students will, quote, “enhance their skills and quantity and analytic reasoning”. And the school hopes to “provide the social, economic, and political context for understanding business decisions in a global environment”. If numbers and data are your jam, Tepper might just be the place for you. If you don’t like quantity things, I would look at another college. Question four: “What College based initiatives are being funded through donations”? More to the point way to ask this is “Where’s the money”? So knowing where the money is flowing indicates where the school is looking for students today or where they may be looking for students next year. You can check this out for yourself on press release pages, which are housed on these College and University websites. You can also investigate The Chronicle of Philanthropy at philanthropy.com. Check out academic interest areas for you. Has your potential program just received a big, fat wad of cash? More money means more opportunities, perhaps for scholarship, cool study abroad programs and improve facilities. So there you have it. Here’s some really great questions and a case study for you to think about your so I would encourage you to take the colleges that you have on your list. Start with three, maybe 4 and do this exercise for yourself to figure out what this college is all about and how it fits you and why you’d be a great candidate. Until next time.


VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.