• Tackling your Application Essays

    In my years working inIMG_0126 college admission the part of the application I am asked about the most is the essay section. Over 15 admission cycles for three different universities, I estimate I have read upwards of 20,000 application essays. For me, the most enjoyable part of an application is the essay, as it is chance for the applicant to share their personal voice. However, it is also the part of the application that can cause the most anxiety.

    Students concern themselves with the wrong questions, such as what is the perfect topic, what are the beliefs and values of the people reading your essays, or what does the Admission Committee want to read. Instead, be concerned with how to reveal your true self in less than 500 words. What is important to you? What do you value? What are your passions? What are your aspirations? Who are your inspirations? The common word throughout is YOU. We want to hear your voice – candid and authentic – through your essay.

    Here are a few nuggets of advice I have collected over the years. This is no way is the gospel about college admission essays, but rather a list of strategies that I believe work:

    • Don’t think of it as an essay assignment, but rather a personal statement. The term essay is the wrong term to use because this is not an English term paper. Your college statement needs to be personal, and it needs to be thought of in a creative and original fashion. Yes, we care about your writing ability; but what matters more is what you reveal about yourself.
    • Present your true self. I always say that one should present self-awareness and confidence in their writings, but most significantly one must present their true personality. We review thousands of essays each year and have become experts in telling when students are not being true to themselves.
    • Do not over-think the essay prompts. These are not trick questions. In fact, they are open-ended, allowing you to create personal statements and providing the flexibility to go in any number of directions. The most impressive essays I have read often are about the most ordinary topics.
    • Make sure to answer the question, and know the word limit. Though essay prompts provide freedom in the direction you take with your answers, make sure to follow the instructions carefully.
    • Proofread your essays. An obvious tip, but still very important. Proofreading does not mean just running a spell-check. Incorrect word choices can kill an essay. Don’t be careless.
    • Take risks. The introduction and conclusion are crucial. You want to catch the reader’s attention and be memorable. Write naturally, and be yourself, but do spend time thinking about how to be impactful with what you write.
    • Ask “Is this me?” When you think you have your final draft, make three copies and distribute them to a parent/relative, a teacher or guidance counselor, and a close friend. Ask each person to read your essay. Instead of providing suggested content edits, ask them to answer the following question: “Does this essay represent me?” If a related person, educator, and friend all answer yes, then you have written an excellent college admission personal statement.

    I decided to ask members of the Emory University Admission Committee to share their best pieces of advice with you regarding essays, too. Enjoy!

    Scott Allen, Senior Associate Dean of Admission, has spent more than twenty years reading application essays for Emory University. In that time, he has come up with the following mantra:

    Be yourself. Be confident in what you have to share. Be joyful that you have something to say. Be focused on sharing perspectives.   

    Associate Dean of Admission Giselle Martin shared some excellent advice regarding how to overcome essay anxiety:

    So often I hear students fretting over their essay topic, not because of the question itself but because they are so focused on the reader or the admission committee. I wish there was a means to express to students that the essays that “speak” to us most are the ones where our own thoughts are silenced because a student has opened their personal Pandora’s box, or imagination, or have stood their ground on a topic that gives them the power to speak their values and personal creed with meaning, intentionality, & conviction. Those students who dive deep into their inner thoughts, who are not afraid to be bold in their convictions and go below the surface of conventional or tacit norms, come alive in their applications. Yes, we know this is scary sometimes, but we have tremendous respect for the students who choose to consider a place like Emory. Be you, 100% authentic, no artificial flavors added, and no Photoshop needed. If you do this, there’s no doubt you will end up in the community that is the best home for you to nourish your spirit for life. 

    Here are a few tips from seasoned staff on how to approach writing your essay:

    I tell students to let their personalities shine through in their writing. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, be serious. There’s no right way to write a college essay. We want to know what makes you tick and what you’re passionate about. The essays that are truly genuine to one’s self truly do stand out. – Senior Admission Advisor Sarah Darden

    The personal essay should be a story which tells the reader a little bit about who you are.  Anecdotes make wonderful personal essays.  I often encourage students to think about their essay in the context of the rest of their application since as admission officers, we have read most of your application by the time we read the personal essay.  The essay does not stand by itself but in the context of the larger application.
    – Associate Dean of Admission Mark Butt 

    The essay is the student’s opportunity to communicate directly to the admission staff. It is more than an academic exercise–the essay is where the student’s voice is heard. Tell us your passions, dreams, struggles, and desires. In doing so, above all else, be authentic. – Admission Advisor Will Canon 

    I also have a few tips from new additions to our staff who are looking forward to their first reading season this year:

    A good essay does not read like a response to the dreaded first question of an interview, “Tell us about yourself.” Forgive my English major metaphor: Instead of casting a torch dimly over the entire tapestry of your life, bring the torch closer to just one part. Create a vivid impression of a moment, experience, or quality that can lead your readers to close our eyes and picture you as if you were before us – resilient, expansive, and ready for the pleasures and challenges of being a part of our diverse community. – Admission Counselor Joel Dobben

    The essay portion of the application is our beorientationst window into who the student is and what makes him or her unique. Admissions is about building a class and choosing students that are right for this specific school.  In order to find students that embody the Emory spirit, we need far more insight than SATs and GPAs can tell us. The essays are the students’ opportunities to show us who they are, which may require that they spend some time trying to figure that out. This doesn’t mean that they have to have a 10-year plan, but at 17 or 18, they should have had some life experiences that they can analyze.  Correct spelling and grammar doesn’t hurt either! – Admission Advisor Louisa Pinto

    And I thought we would finish with Nicholas Missler, Assistant Dean of Admission, who shared about the best essay he has ever read:

    Perhaps the best essay I read was a few years ago, and the student wrote about his tennis shoes. He mentioned that his parents bought him a pair at the beginning of his freshman year and he wore them all throughout high school. Now, no doubt this was a bit of creative liberty – who wears the same shoes every day for 4 years – but that was just fine since this detail isn’t critical to the point. He wrote about how the shoes reflected his time, efforts, and values over his high school career. They were worn from running cross country, paint splattered from Habitat for Humanity projects, stained red from mud when he and his family hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, and had a hole burn in the top from a bonfire he had with his friend before senior year. Using his shoes as a vehicle, he shared the experiences that led to his development into the mature, college-ready student he is today. I enjoyed the stories and learned a great deal about him in the short essay. If you can manage to balance a good story with details about your life, while keeping yourself as the focal point of the essay, you’ll capture our attention and teach us about you in the process.

    I hope all this advice assists you as you finish up work on your Common Application and Emory Supplemental essays. As best you can, enjoy this process and know that all members of the Emory/Oxford Admission Committee are eagerly awaiting the chance to read your words.

    Best wishes!

    Daniel G. Creasy
    Director of Communications
    Emory University
    Office of Undergraduate Admission


  • In the know–Emory Scholars Program

    Details on the Emory University Scholars Program

    0110803-12BM-F082Two weeks ago my blog post focused on Early Decision, since the November 1 deadline is just around the corner. Today I’d like to discuss another admission deadline on the horizon for the Emory University Scholars Program, which is November 15. With only a month left to submit the Scholars application, I’d like to provide some insight about the deadlines and the program itself.

    The Emory University Scholars Program is a unique opportunity for students interested in Emory University, and it has changed quite a bit in the last few years. So here are some tips and pointers as you consider your options:

    What is the Emory University Scholars Program?
    Simply put, it is a special application deadline for students who want to be considered for merit-based scholarships. Emory College, Oxford College, and the Goizueta Business School offer partial to full merit-based scholarships as well as membership in Scholars Programs to a select group of incoming first-year students. The purpose of these programs is to provide financial awards as well as dedicated programming to exceptional students.

    What kind of students receive scholarships?
    The selection committee looks for students with strong academic backgrounds and outstanding extracurricular engagement. There are no set standards for GPA or test scores to be considered, as the selection process comprehensively and holistically analyzes all aspects of the application. One of my colleagues that coordinates the Scholars selection process describes the type of students select as finalists as the following:

    Emory University Scholars are “intellectually carbonated” individuals, leaders among their peers, and “spark plugs” in their communities. They are forward-thinkers who stretch the boundaries of intellectual inquiry, artists with distinctive talents and creativity, and difference-makers that act as catalysts for positive change. 

    Why is there a different deadline to apply for scholarships?
    The November 15 deadline provides the Admission Committee and Scholars Selection Committees ample time to review each candidate and render decisions about scholarship selection by January 31. (More on how this is done later.) To be considered for the Scholars selection process, students must submit all required application materials by November 15.

    Are all my application materials due by the November 15 Scholars deadline, or can I turn other things in later, as long as it’s before the deadline of the admission plan I select (EDI, EDII, or RD)?
    If you want your application considered for the Emory University Scholars programs, then all first-year application  must be submitted by the November 15th deadline. Applicants need to select one of Emory’s three admission decision plans (Early Decision I, Early Decision II, or Regular Decision), but the November 15th deadline applies for scholarship consideration (not the January 1 deadline associated with the EDII and RD plans). Students who submit any application materials after November 15 will not be eligible for review under the Emory University Scholars selection process.

    Please note that students applying EDI may also apply for the Scholars Program. EDI students need to meet the November 1 EDI deadline for all application materials.

    Are there separate application materials to be considered for the Scholars Programs?
    Nope. The only additional step beyond applying by November 15 is this: students must nominate themselves for the Emory University Scholars Program by answering “yes” to the following question:

    Emory College, Oxford College, and the Goizueta Business School offer partial to full merit-based tuition scholarships and membership in Scholars Programs to incoming first-year students. The purpose of these highly selective Scholars Programs is to provide scholarships, dedicated programming, and distinct opportunities to attract the most promising students to Emory University. To be considered, students must submit a completed application by the Emory University Scholars Selection deadline of November 15 (ED1 applicants must submit by November 1). Are you interested in being considered for these Scholars Programs?

    This question is found in the Questions section of the Emory University “My College” page cover-dooleyon the Common Application.

    So, there is no additional essay?
    Correct. In previous application cycles there were additional essays for Scholars consideration, but for the 2014-15 application cycle there are no additional essays or forms that need to be completed by the November 15 deadline. Applicants who are selected as Scholars finalists (notification on January 31), will be required to submit an additional essay in advance of the Scholars Finalists visit program.

    I heard I needed to be nominated by my guidance counselor. Is that true?
    This was a requirement in previous years but does not apply for 2014-15. All students need to do is apply by November 15 and nominate themselves via the Common Application. No additional nomination forms are required.

    When will I hear my decision?
    This is a two-part answer, as there are decisions about admission as well as decisions about scholarships. Students selected as a Scholars finalists will find out on January 31 via email and OPUS. Finalists will also receive their admission decision at this time and find out if they’ve been selected as an Emory Scholar, Oxford Scholar, or Goizueta Scholar.

    Those students not selected as finalists will hear of their admission decision on notification day for the admission plan they chose: December 15 for EDI, February 15 for EDII, and April 1 for RD.

    Are my chances for admission impacted if I choose to apply through the Scholars Program?
    The Scholars selection and admission review processes are 100% separate. One’s chances for admission will not be impacted by the decision to apply (or not) to the Scholars Program.

    Do I have to indicate whether I am interested in the Emory Scholars, Oxford Scholars, or Goizueta Scholars Programs?
    Nope. Applicants do not need to indicate the program(s) they are interested in. When applying, students are automatically considered for everything available in the Emory University Scholars Program. During the review process, the Scholars committee evaluates and selects students who are the best fit for each of the three programs: Emory Scholars, Oxford Scholars, and Goizueta Scholars. Finalists are then invited to attend the one program for which they’ve been selected.

    If I do not apply through the Scholars Program November 15 deadline, will I still be eligible for merit-based scholarship opportunities?
    Applicants to the Emory University Scholars Program not selected as Finalists will continue to be considered for admission under their selected admission plan, as well as for additional, yet limited, merit aid not affiliated with the Emory University Scholars Program.

    Are international students eligible to apply for the Emory University Scholars Program?
    Yes. International students are eligible to apply to the Emory University Scholars Program, and we strongly encourage those with financial need to do so. Financial assistance for international student is limited, and this program is a great way for Emory to provide some help to those who need it most.

    I hope this has helped you better understand the Emory University Scholars Programs. However, if you still have questions, please ask! You can post a comment to this blog, tweet us, or email us at admission@emory.edu.

    Best wishes!

    Daniel G. Creasy
    Director of Communications
    Emory University
    Office of Undergraduate Admissionnight skyline

  • #FirstGenOfficeHour Twitter-Chat Recap

    Timothy Fields, associate director of admission, participated in the October 2, 2014 #FirstGenOfficeHour chat, hosted by I’m First. I’m First is an online community for first-generation college students.

    If you couldn’t catch the chat, here is a recap:

    Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 8.31.00 PMQ1. How early/late is too early/late to submit college applications?
    A1. Students have until January 1 to apply to #Emory, you can also apply November 1 ED.

    Q2. Is it okay to recycle or reuse essays for several college applications? Can admission officers tell?
    A2. We would advise that you write all original essays; it’s very easy to tell when an essay is recycled.

    Q3. What’s the difference between early action, early decision and regular decision? Do any of those have advantages?
    A3. #Emory does not have EA. We only have ED, which is a binding agreement. The admit rate is higher during ED.

    Q4. I don’t have the best test scores or a ton of extracurricular activities. How much will that play into my application?
    A4. Your activities do play a role, but your rigor/grades are the most important part of the review process.

    Q5. What are the Top 3 things in a college application that helps it stand out to an admission officer?
    A5. Things that stand in the process include good grades, letting us know who you are & passion about learning

    Q6. How important is it for a student to tell whether they are a #firstgen student in their application?
    A6. You do not have to tell us you are firstgen, but letting us know your challenges may you help stand out.

    Q7. Do admission officer really read all of the essays? How can a student make their essay stand out in the crowd?
    A7. We read ALL essays and letting us know who you are & your story make you stand out. Proof-reading helps!

    Q8. A student has an interesting background but is hesitant to write about it in personal statement. What should they do?
    A8. if you have an interesting story let us know. we want to know who YOU are in this process! #Expression

    Q9. What are the main components to the college application?
    A9. The focus of this process is who are you & how well have you done in high school years! Holistic Review.

    #FirstGenOfficeHour -#randomadvice- have a professional e-mail to communicate with schools !

    #FirstGenOfficeHour -#randomadvice – make sure to follow up with schools to be sure your application is complete!

    #FirstGenOfficeHour #randomadvice – meet ALL deadlines, both admission and financial aid – the deadlines are often not the same!

    #FirstGenOfficeHour #randomadvice – enjoy this time and process, you are going to have a lot
    of great options … R-E-L-A-X!

    #FirstGenOfficeHour #randomadvice – be realistic in this process, don’t waste fee waivers on schools you are not competitive at.

    #FirstGenOfficeHour – we are here for you, we want you to be great! Good luck in this process and know we are all here to help!

    Are you a first-gen student? What questions do you have about the college search process? Feel free to comment, tweet us, or email us at admission@emory.edu.

  • The Southern Sense: October

    0111101-10KH - Oxford Fall CampusWhat does it mean to be a Southerner? It’s hard to define, but I know it’s a lot more than a “hey y’all” and a strand of pearls. Nowhere else in the country is there a population that identifies so keenly with its region that the identifying label receives a capital letter-Southerner. By the same token, no other region of the country has experienced such a dichotomous history and still struggles to this day to hold close the values that mean so much to its communities while moving past the terrible mistakes and acts that will forever be connected to its name. I’ve spent my entire life in Atlanta, Georgia, including attending college at Emory University.

    I’ve been raised by a village of a Southern family that stretches from the neighborhood of Virginia-Highland, where I grew up, all the way to the mountains of Tennessee and the small towns of North Carolina, where most of my extended family lives. When I think of what it means to be Southern, I think of lots of family, good food, and storytelling. These are the staples of our culture and community in the South. I think of one of my aunts who has turned deviled eggs into an art form (which is as it should be) with six different deviled egg recipes, including every ingredient from cornichons to shallots. I think of my grandmother who made clothes for all of her six children and to this day is incapable of being caught off guard by unexpected guests with her ability to make an entire meal from scratch on the fly. And I think of my mother, who has taught me so much about being Southern, from instilling in me that sense of Southern hospitality our region is known for, to ingraining in me the notion that a Southern woman never goes anywhere without looking her best out of respect for herself. I’m sorry to say I disappoin ted her on the latter point many times during my college years when I had an 8AM chemistry class three days per week.

    My travels as an admission counselor in Emory’s Office of Undergraduate Admission have taught me a lot about what the rest of the world thinks about the South and its culture. There is a surprising fear and trepidation instilled in this generation when it comes to moving away for college to the “Deep South,” which has become the vague definition of everything between Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, and the Florida state line.

    Ironically, many people I meet are completely shocked to find out that I am a born-and-raised Southerner. The very things that they feel go against the stereotypes of being a Southerner are in fact the most Southern things about me. Take my name, Farish, for example. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told by people that they expected me to be a male and most likely Middle Eastern. My name is in fact extremely Southern, both in its origin and in the way it was given to me. Several generations ago, it used to be a common last name in Virginia, where my family lived at the time, and it was given to one of my female ancestors as a middle name. My mother gave it to me as a first name, which is not uncommon in the South—the giving of a last name, even a slightly androgynous name, as a first name. Another example is my lack of accent. Yes, “y’all” is a very important part of my vernacular, but I do not have much of an accent. This is also not uncommon in major southern cities where populations have steadily become more diverse and a multitude of languages and accents have blended.

    So with all of this in mind, I encourage you to get to know Atlanta and Southern culture, and I’d like to help. Each month I’ll round up some of the best events happening in Atlanta and share them with you. For those of you visiting Emory or Atlanta, I encourage you to partake of the Southern culture and festivals. (You will come to find, either the more you visit or the more you read this blog, that Southerners love their festivals. We will seriously have a festival in honor of anything and everything-seasons, flowers, fruits, vegetable, holidays. You name it, we probably celebrate it.)

    Here are some of the unique events happening in October:


    “Ogre-tober” at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Available all month.
    Whether your thumbs are green or not-at-all agriculturally inclined, a visit to the gorgeous Atlanta Botanical Gardens, located in the heart of midtown Atlanta, will always be memorable and fun.  This 30-acre plant sanctuary includes rose gardens, an orchid center, an edible garden and bar, the famous Storza woods with its canopy walkway, and much more. There is always an art exhibit or two in the gardens throughout the year as well. Currently being featured is the Imaginary Worlds Exhibit, which has transformed the garden into a home for 28 larger than life, living sculptures of mythical and forest creatures. Each living sculpture is made of different plants and flowers that grow from a dirt and nutrient-rich lining inside the sculpture, giving the impression of movement and life. Cameras are allowed and encouraged, whether you’re capturing The Unicorn grazing, The Earth Goddess creating water, or the Gigantic Cobras bookending the Midtown skyline from the highest point in the gardens. During the month of October, or “Ogre-tober” as it’s being called, the garden will also play host to almost 100 scarecrows, created and donated by local businesses, schools, and families and friends of the garden.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.42.25 PM

    “Halloween Tours” at the famous Oakland Cemetery. Available all month.
    For those that have never visited Oakland Cemetery, it is the oldest cemetery in Atlanta (founded in 1850) and one of the few areas of the city to survive Atlanta’s burning during the Civil War. It also stands as one of the most honest depictions of Atlanta’s fraught history throughout segregation, war, and progressive rebuilding, all of which can be traced in aspects like the blatant separation of the burial grounds in the older areas of the cemetery, the variety and evolution of tombstones and grave markings, and the multi-generational Atlanta families and prominent city leaders whose grave sites are flanked by exquisite statues and fine words in honor of their legacies in the city’s history. It is a hauntingly beautiful place (no pun intended) near the heart of downtown Atlanta. There are a variety of specialized tours offered on the weekends at Oakland Cemetery, and what better time to take one than the month of Halloween!


    “Pumpkin Festival” at Stone Mountain. Available all month.
    Considered one Atlanta’s more iconic venues, Stone Mountain is rife with history and activity. You can explore the 3,200-acre park via the hiking trail up Stone Mountain itself, one of the largest pieces of exposed granite in the world, on the side of which is the largest bas-relief in the world, depicting Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. Or you can explore the mountain and park via a scenic train ride or on SkyHike, the largest adventure ropes course in the US. Feel free to bring a picnic, grill out, fish in the lake, or walk/run on the numerous trails throughout the park. Stone Mountain Village also offers a variety of retail, dining, and entertainment to while away the hottest parts of the day. Friday-Sunday, during the month of October, there are extra events in honor of Halloween.


    L5P Halloween Festival in Little Five Points, Atlanta. Saturday, October 18 from 12PM-11PM.
    The Atlanta metro area is made up of a collection of neighborhoods, each with their own distinct personality and customs. Virginia-Highland, where I am from, is one example and so is Little Five Points. Known to be the most eccentric of Atlanta’s communities (you’ve been warned!), L5P offers a great diversity of retail, restaurants, and events. One of their most notable events is their annual Halloween Festival, which is hosted by the L5P Business Association. There will be live music throughout the event, an artist market, a costume parade (it is no joke), and extended patio seating at local restaurants (for better parade viewing, of course). Parking will be limited in the festival area but you can experience MARTA (Atlanta’s form of public transportation) in order to make your way over or park on one of the neighboring streets and enjoy a scenic walk over to the festival.

    If you are visiting during another month or want to keep learning more about Atlanta and its communities and traditions, check in with us early each month to see what’s coming up. We hope you and your family enjoy getting a Southern sense of Atlanta, and we welcome you to visit our family here at Emory University soon!

    ‘Til next month,
    Farish Jerman 11C
    Senior Admission Counselor
    Emory University
    Office of Undergraduate Admission


    Photos via:

  • Is Early Decision right for you?

    I’ve been in the college admission profession for quite a while (16 years and counting), and for me, signs of fall don’t just include colorful foliage, the sun setting earlier, and lower temperatures prompting long sleeves and sweaters. The changing of the calendar to October also means an increase in the frequency my colleagues and I are asked, “Should I apply Early Decision?” As our November 1st Early Decision (ED) deadline approaches, more and more high school seniors are debating whether to make the binding commitment that goes along with applying ED. I hope to provide some direction on how to tackle this question and some advice from my years of experience with students choosing whether to ED or not to ED.

    First, let’s make sure you know what applying ED is all about. Our Early Decision webpage is a great place to read more about the process, and it also answers some of technical questions you may have. Become familiar with how the ED agreement works, that we have two different ED plans, and that you have the option to apply ED to Emory College, Oxford College, or both schools.

    Second, I strongly encourage you to read this Atlanta Journal Constitution article from last year. Our Dean of Admission John Latting was interviewed about making the choice to apply ED. He shares some of the advantages and disadvantages to applying early, as well as the key questions to consider. With all the clutter out there about “how to get in” and the “keys to college admission,” I personally feel Dean Latting’s remarks are candid, clear, and come from a truly credible source.

    With that being said, let’s focus on some of the key questions you should consider about ED.

    Who should apply Early Decision?

    Simply put, if Emory University is your definitive first choice and you are ready to make the commitment, then ED is probably for you. ED is for students who just know; the students who have “fallen in love.” They have done their research, and for all the right reasons, they are confident in their decision. If Emory is the school that you measure all other schools by, and those schools always fail in comparison, then you I would encourage you to strongly consider ED.

    Not to beat this point into the ground, but let me share a quote from Kelley Lips, Oxford College’s Dean of Enrollment Services: 

    Despite slightly more favorable admit rates, the process [of Early Decision] remains practical only for students who have a clear first-choice school, those who have done the research to appropriately make the choice, and students who are completely sure they wish to enroll at their Early Decision institution. If Emory / Oxford seems familiar to you and is something you believe you have prepared for (academically, in particular), meets your expectations for what a college should be, and is just where you really want to be next fall, then early decision makes perfect sense. In fact, you are exactly the type of student for whom we offer an Early Decision option in the first place!

    Who should NOT apply Early Decision?

    Perhaps this is obvious, but students who do not have a clear first choice school and want to weigh options should not apply ED to any school. Beyond this obvious answer, I recommend against applying ED for students who are only considering the binding commitment for tactical reasons. By this I mean, students who are focused on the numbers and just “getting in,” and students who view applying ED solely as a strategic move. Applying to colleges should not be seen as winning a game of highly selective college admission, and students who over-analyze statistical data about ED are approaching the process from the wrong direction. Selecting an ED admission plan should be about fit. 100% of the time. Students who know Emory or Oxford is their perfect fit should apply ED. Students who think ED is about the easiest way to get accepted should reconsider their priorities in their college search.

    If there is a disadvantage to applying ED, it has to do with financial aid. No, you don’t receive a worse financial aid package if you apply ED, as we use precisely the same methods for calculating eligibility for aid no matter what admission plan you choose. The financial disadvantage is that if you are admitted ED, you do not have the opportunity to compare financial aid offers from more than one university. Each institution has its own way of determining how much a family can reasonably pay for college, and the outcome of that process is only revealed after you are offered admission. When admitted early decision, you just get that one offer of financial aid. Something to consider.

    Is there a competitive advantage to applying Early Decision?

    There is no simple answer to this question. Yes, there are benefits to applying to ED. The earlier timeline is a clear advantage. ED applicants learn of their decision earlier. If admitted, their college search is complete, and they can focus on successfully finishing high school. If not admitted, though disappointing, students can move on and focus on other schools that fit.

    Another advantage is that the pressure is not on the Admission staff during the ED evaluation process. When the Admission Committee is reading application during the early process they do not feel the time crunch and have fewer applications to consider. During this early process, there is more freedom to respond to students who make a great case for themselves and have a sincere interest.

    While there are benefits, note that I did not say that there is a competitive advantage. The phrase competitive advantage leads to a conclusion that it is easier to get in when applying early. There are benefits to applying ED, but it is not easier to be admitted. The Admission Committee review process is the same during the early evaluation process as it is during the review of Regular Decision (RD) applicants – both in terms of academic metrics and holistic measures.

    If I do not apply ED, do I still have a chance to be admitted?

    As Dean Latting shares in the AJC article, we strive to hold at least half of our admitted student spots for RD applicants. Students who apply RD are held to the same academic standards, and our admission evaluators are just as excited to read RD applications. Don’t feel forced to apply ED fearing that you will not be able to get in RD, or because you think your application will be passed over. Great students are admitted during RD every year, and we would not have a complete class without our RD applicants. 

    Regardless of whether you decide to apply Early Decision or Regular Decision, know that the Admission Committee desires to get to know you for who you really are through the application process. Share about what excites you, challenges you, drives you to go for broke and reach for more. My colleagues and I hope your college aspirations lead you to Emory University, and please know we are here to assist you in the process. Don’t hesitate to connect with us by posting a comment to this blog, tweeting us, or emailing us at admission@emory.edu.

    Best wishes!

    Daniel G. Creasy
    Director of Communications
    Emory University
    Office of Undergraduate Admission


  • Sneak Preview: 2014-15 Emory University Supplemental Essay Topics

    Summer is winding to a close, and we know y’all have a lot to do before school starts. Many of you have begun to think about your college applications and some many have even started planning out certain sections. For the non-procrastinators out there, we wanted to provide you with a sneak preview of our 2014-15 Emory University Supplemental Essay topics.

    While your supplemental essay isn’t due until November for Early Decision applicants or January for Early Decision II and Regular Decision applicants, we wanted to give you ample time to mull the options over and compose your answer.  In addition to the Common Application’s Personal Statement, you will be required to compose an answer—500 words or less—to one of these essay options:

    Essay Option 1
    Emory University welcomes first-year students with two distinct options to begin their liberal arts education: the research-infused Emory College or the smaller, experiential learning Oxford College. If you could create an academic course that is in the Emory University spirit of collaboration, creativity, entrepreneurship and inquiry, what would it be? What impact would the course have on you and your classmates’ educational experience?

    Essay Option 2
    What is something you have taught yourself in the last year? How did you teach yourself this new skill or concept and what was the result?classroom

    Your supplemental essay should provide insight on your character as well as your potential fit with Emory University. Please consider your response thoughtfully, as the Admission Committee has special interest in this portion of your application.

    In closing, we wanted to remind you that Emory College and Oxford College are both great options for enthusiastic scholars and progressive thinkers—and the application makes it simple and convenient to apply to Emory, Oxford, or both! If you visit http://apply.emory.edu/apply, you’ll find useful information to help you understand the differences (and similarities) between the two colleges. If you can’t find answers there, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at admission@emory.edu.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer—we look forward to reading your responses!


  • Tips for Planning Your Summer Visit to Emory

    As summer officially begins in a few days, the number of students visiting colleges will increase greatly. We hope many of you who have not yet visited us, are planning to do so soon. Below we have compiled a list of answers to all of your Emory College summer campus visit questions.

    How do I register?
    Check out our calendar at http://www.emoryadmission.com/visit/index.php and fill out a short form to let us know when you plan to visit. We are open most weekdays throughout the summer, offering morning visit options in June, and morning and afternoon options in July and August.


    Where do I stay? How do I get there?
    For hotels and directions to campus, go to http://apply.emory.edu/visit/planning.php.

    What do I bring?
    Summer weather in Georgia can be somewhat unpredictable, but a typical summer day will be warm and quite humid. We recommend that you pack lightweight clothing, comfortable shoes, as well as any sun protectants that you find necessary (such as hats, sunglasses, or sun screen). We also recommend bringing umbrellas in case a sporadic Georgia summer shower rolls in!

    What can I expect during my visit?
    First, you’ll check in with us at the front desk. You can grab Starbucks (located on the first floor) to help wake you up or cool you down. Next will be an hour long information session with one of our awesome Admission Counselors. Afterwards, you’ll head out on a tour with one of our amazing current students. Your tour will last between 60-75 minutes.


    What can I do after my visit?
    After your campus visit, you can continue to explore the Emory campus and surrounding areas. Plan to have lunch in Emory Village or Emory Point, or take a stroll through Lullwater Park and check out President Wagner’s House! There are many other options to Explore Atlanta as well. Virginia Highlands, Decatur and Midtown are some of the favorite locations for Emory students, and are only a few minutes away from our campus. When you come to visit, make sure to ask us some of our favorite restaurants, attractions, and current Atlanta events!

    You can also plan a visit to our Oxford College campus as well. Visit here to register for an Oxford College campus visit.0041502-13BM-F167

    For any other questions you might have, please reach out to us. You can comment here, email us at admission@emory.edu, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    We look forward to seeing you this summer!

  • Spend the summer at Emory!

    class_on_quadAre you a rising high school junior or senior? Do you want to spend your summer at Emory? If so, the Emory Pre-College program is the perfect option for you! You’ll get to spend two to six weeks on Emory University’s main campus while getting a taste for academic and residential life while you’re here.

    What is the Pre-College program?

    The Emory Pre-College Program offers a wide range of two-week non-credit courses and six-week undergraduate courses for credit in a variety of disciplines. Students will experience college-level academics with some of Emory’s top faculty—all leading experts in their fields.

    A typical day at the Pre-College program will combine academics, extracurricular activities, community outreach and much more. In addition, you’ll build new friendships and make connections at Emory before you even apply to college.

    How do I apply?

    Applicants to the Pre-College program must complete and submit the following:

    1. The Online Application
    2. $60 application fee.
    3. A letter of recommendation from a high school teacher or counselor.
    4. An official high school transcript
    5. Your SAT or ACT scores (If you have not taken the SAT or ACT yet, you may submit a copy of your most recent PSAT report)

    You have until June 15th to submit a Pre-College Program application. If you have any questions about the program, please email precollege@emory.edu or visit the Pre-College contact page.

    The Emory Pre-College Program is a great opportunity to see what college life is all about. You’ll discover new things about Emory University, the city of Atlanta and yourself. Apply today to experience all that the Pre-College program has to offer!


  • Making the Big Decision

    IMG_0073As the May 1st response deadline approaches, many of you have a major decision on the horizon. With less than a week remaining, those of who are admitted but not committed are probably feeling a mix of anxiety, confusion, and hopefully a tinge of excitement too. Clearly, this is one of the biggest decisions you have needed to make so far in your life, and you should be commended for taking your time and focusing your energies. (And they say “getting in” is the hardest part!)

    So how do you choose? How do you make this big decision? What is the value of an education at one institution compared to another? What is the right choice, the perfect fit? Asking others these questions is acceptable, but in the end it is you and you alone who must make the choice. This decision-making process challenges your ability to self-analyze your personal priorities and preferences while forcing you to attempt to predict the next four years of your life. And not only does this choice impact those next four years—your school will become your alma mater and an important line on your resume.

    OK, that last paragraph probably just added to your stress level. So let’s change gears for the rest of this post and provide the best possible assistance we can for tackling this decision. If you can approach your decision-making process with an organized mind and game plan, you will find clarity and hopefully the right choice will illuminate itself. Our advice falls into four buckets:

    1. Self-Analyze

    Determine what is it you want/need and then research all the aspects behind the decision. Self-analysis is crucial before deciding which college to attend. Ask yourself the critical questions, and be honest with yourself when it comes to the answers:

    • What kind of a school do I want to attend for four year? Location? Atmosphere?
    • What kind of student body am I looking for? Do I think I will mesh well with the current students?
    • What kind of academic opportunities will be available to me as an undergraduate, and how am I looking to be educated?
    • Same question, but relate it to extracurricular options. Which is more important: strong academics, an active social life, or a mix of both?
    • What about the faculty? Are they accessible? Can I see myself learning from them? Do I want to learn from them?
    • Will I learn? Will I have fun? Will I be challenged? Will I easily engage? Which of these matters most?
    • Will I be proud in four years to call myself an alumnus of the school?
    • Will I / can I make a difference?

    IMG_0081If you visited your final choice schools it is probably easier to answer these questions. If you didn’t visit, you can conduct tons of research via websites and social media to get a feel for the school, its student body, and the faculty. Comparing what you value with the attributes of each school that remains on your list will aid you greatly.

    2. Make a Pro / Con List

    For some, Pro / Con lists are tedious or laughable. Trust us they work, especially for this kind of decision-making. Make lists for each school you are still considering. It is time for you to really start thinking about fit. No school is perfect, so make sure to be as detailed listing strengths as you are listing weaknesses.

    Not only is this the time where you can catalog your personal opinions about each school, it also becomes a study in what characteristics you find most important. If you did a self-analysis, now is the perfect time to match the list of qualities your want to your opinions about what each school has to offer. Location, size, friendliness, professors, extracurricular offerings, cost, academic opportunities, etc. List everything from the most important detail to the most insignificant. Nothing is too ridiculous to be included on these lists—consider it a personal brain dump that in the end will bring clarity, focus, and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. All in all, this is your compare and contrast system, and it will work.

    3. Ignore Statistics and Rankings


    Though rankings and statistics can be helpful as you first start thinking about colleges and as you decide where to apply, in all honesty, numberscan be manipulated to prove any point you want. To make your final decision, throw U.S. News out the window and avoid side-by-side number comparisons of schools. It is time to focus on the intangibles. Each of the schools that have admitted you will all offer amazing opportunities. This is not an apple versus orange versus kiwi decision, but rather a gorgeous green apple versus a shiny red apple versus a delicious yellow apple. Numbers do not predict whether you will be happy for the next four years, whether you will be challenged, whether you will be stimulated. The top schools are all top schools . It now comes down to fit, and a percentage, formula, or statistic does not determine fit.

    4. Take Advice with a Grain of Salt

    We strongly encourage you to make sure to avoid hearsay, conjecture, myths, and rumors—they often are far from the truth. Every person sees every college differently. Do your own analyses, get information directly from the source, and avoid biased comments. Value your personal conclusions over all others. There is no cardinal rule that says if you read it or heard it; it must be 100% true. Consider everything—both overly positive and overly negative comments—with a grain of salt. Constantly question the source, and consider the agenda of the person feeding you information. Ultimately your own personal conclusions will be the best guide.

    Clearly you need to talk with others about this decision, and your family should be the top of the list. Your college counselor or respected teachers are other great sources. Friends can be helpful, but their advice could also be worth little. Make sure to gather information from the schools themselves. Avoid anonymous sources. In the end, filter through all the information you have compiled to make the best decision for you.


    If all else fails… just choose Emory. You can’t go wrong.

    Seriously though, if you remain confused at the end, go with your gut. We hope you will choose Emory University (wink, wink). Whatever your choice, understand one last important concept—one of the hidden truths of college admission is that once a student commits to a school they begin to mold their choice into the perfect school. So whatever school you’ve chosen will become your perfect college experience. These four years are what you make of them, so go out there and be successful.

    Best wishes!

  • Welcome to Emory!

    We’ve got a bunch of special messages coming your way from current Emory students (so be sure to keep an eye on the student blog during the month of April!). Today, however, we offer a hearty congratulations and a sincere welcome from everyone here in the Office of Undergraduate Admission. We’ve been with you the whole way, and we are so excited to finally say, “Welcome to the family!”.