AcceptU has assembled the largest team of former admissions officers to support applicants in the admissions process.

In this blog series, we invite you to learn more about our team and insights gleaned from their previous admissions experience.

Our next counselor Q&A features Andrew, who previously worked in admissions at New York University.

1. What can you share about the NYU application process that most people will not know?

Because NYU receives 60,000+ applications in an application cycle, the university employs a large undergraduate admissions staff in order to give each applicant adequate consideration. Each application is read by at least three different decision makers who might even be reading for different NYU campuses or different colleges within the university.

2. What is the first thing you read in an application?

I always went right to the school profile that accompanied each student’s application. If I did not understand the school and the community, I could not fully understand what the student accomplished during his or her time in high school. After I finished glossing over the school profile, I quickly scanned the transcript to make sure the curriculum was rigorous and that the student performed well in his or her courses. In working at a highly selective institution, we expected any competitive candidate to be a strong student. Once that was confirmed, the rest of the application became the key factor in the ultimate decision. It was often the activity section or the essay that could slightly tip the overall application rating.

3. What are the key qualities that you wish to see in a college essay?

I implore my students to write about something that is deeply individual and that cannot be found elsewhere on the application. I love essays that show well timed moments of vulnerability. Those who can be vulnerable often make the best learners. Other advice is to “show, don’t tell” and never write something because it’s what you think “they” want to hear.

4. Can you give an example of a mistake that caused an application to be rejected?

At both NYU and Gettysburg, I recall multiple instances in which a student submitted an essay telling me how much they loved Carleton College or Boston University! At schools that consider “demonstrated interest” this is even more crucial. Why would an admissions officer admit a student who can’t even take the time to be sure they are submitting an essay for the right college? Nothing says “you’re my safety school” than that sort of mistake!

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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