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Episode in a Tweet: The proven way to get your kids admitted to top schools.
Quick Background: We all want the best for our kids. And for many of us, this includes getting admitted to top schools. For decades, Mimi Doe, who holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University, has been teaching students and their parents the proven roadmap to get accepted to top schools. The truth is, the top schools admission process is not transparent and it is shrouded in myths. In today’s show, Mimi shines a light on this opaque process and describes in detail the things you can do today to help ensure your kids have the best shot at getting admitted to the top schools of their choice.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Key Insights on the Top Schools Admission Process
1. Eighty percent of admissions is academic, twenty percent is everything else.
At an Ivy League school, for example, there’s very clear data published that shows the academic range. Mimi didn’t mince words when she said, “I’ll just give it to you straight; If you’re not in the top 10% of your high school class, and you don’t have a ‘hook,’ then you would likely be an automatic reject in the admissions office at an Ivy League school. Why? Because 95 to 98% of accepted freshman in the Ivies are in the top 10% of their high school’s class.” SAT scores and rigor of course load also matter. As if it was easy, Mimi said, “The best choice is to take the most rigorous courses at your high school and get A’s.”
2. It helps to have a “hook.”
If your scores and grades aren’t in the range, you still might get in if you have a hook. A hook could include: an athletic recruit, an underrepresented minority, a VIP’s son or daughter, a professor’s child, or a descendant of a family whose name is on a campus building. Without grades and scores “in the range” or a strong hook, “you’re going to be what’s called a first reader reject,” said Mimi. And by the way, doing 200 hours of random community service in high school does not qualify as a hook.
3. Don’t be a renaissance man or woman in high school; instead, be focused.
If you want to get admitted to top schools, don’t do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Instead, do one or two things extraordinarily well. “If you are interested in history and science and math, and you’re a member of four or five clubs, even if you’re top of your class, to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and MIT, you’re going to look like every kid at every high school in every city in every state in America to them,” said Mimi. By contrast, let’s say, “You’re a student who’s interested in art history and you took a college course in art history the summer before your junior year. Then you wrote a paper on Paul Gauguin and you got it published in the local museum’s archives. And then you took the AP Art History class and got a five. And you wrote a paper that was published in the Concord Review, which is the only academic journal that publishes high school papers. Do all that and now you’re talking the language of top tier schools.”
4. As a parent, there are limits to how much you can help your child in the process to getting admitted to top schools.
One of the best things a parent can do is understand the truth behind college admissions–just like you’re doing by reading this post. And start the process early. “Start your freshman year with your son or daughter to look at the classes they could potentially take each year in high school and when they could take their standardized testing,” said Mimi. Help your child find an academic focus so they can go deep in an area instead of diffusing their effort. “Support them in taking action, but you don’t want to just give them an internship at your hedge fund because college admissions officers smell a rat,” she said.
5. A clerical error in the admissions process could cost you admission to your top school choice.
Mimi said the application process itself is where the biggest mistakes occur. Clerical errors such as sending the supplemental essay you wrote for Dartmouth in your Harvard application is a kiss of death. Not sending your standardized test scores or not getting your transcripts sent in on time is another problem. “Colleges won’t call up and say, ‘Hi Jim, this is Dartmouth calling. Yeah we got your early decision application but it’s incomplete. We don’t have X, Y, or Z. It just doesn’t work like that. You’ll just be deferred,” said Mimi.
Top Schools Admission Takeaways
1. Be in the top 10% of your class. Your academic record accounts for 80% of your admissions weighting. Take the most rigorous classes you can and get A’s.
2. Like in business, have an academic focus in high school. Forget being like Leonardo da Vinci. You need to develop a deep expertise in a subject matter area and round that out with other activities that show off your expertise. Deep and narrow beats wide and shallow here.
3. Don’t make stupid mistakes. Double and triple-check your admissions application to make sure you have done everything correctly. You don’t want a dumb error to ruin your chance of being admitted to your favorite school.