Going beyond test scores
We are often asked by students how to make their applications stand out from the pack. Students want to know the test scores or GPA they need to get in. Or what the magic number of AP or IB classes is that they need to take.
Some people think that we have a fixed equation, determined by a computer program, to assess admissibility. Perhaps it would look something like this:
Well, thankfully Emory University doesn’t work that way. Let’s take a few minutes to set the record straight.
At Emory University, there is no magic formula. There is not a secret computer stashed away in a dark, dank administration building where a student’s academic record is plugged in, and it spits out an “admit” or “deny” decision. This is 2017 after all!
So if there’s no formula, what are we looking for?
When Emory University admission staff read applications, we always have the campus community—both inside and outside the classroom—in mind.
For us, this means finding students who can thrive in our rigorous academic environment. This is usually exhibited through a student’s high school class choices. Did the student take the most challenging classes offered at his/her school? How did they do?
Beyond that, we are also looking for character traits, educational pursuits, and community awareness that would fit best in this campus community. Most Emory University students, regardless of major, have multiple interests and passions—whether it’s the arts, community service, medical research, theater, entrepreneurship, or athletics. What makes you happy? How has your community, family, or school benefited from who you are as a person?
When all that is said, done, and read, then we’re looking at a student’s test scores. Normally these confirm what we already see in a transcript, letters of recommendations, or short answer responses.
Take his word for it
John Latting, dean of admission for Emory University, continually encourages us as an admission staff to think about the student—the person—behind each application. Kelley Lips, dean of enrollment services for Oxford College, encourages us to always be aware of each student, in the moment of their high school experience.
We want to identify who each student is as a learner in academia and also who they are in their community. Is the student fully-engaged with their world—wherever that might be and whomever that might include? Is the student determined? Courageous? Intentional? Ethical?
We are looking for students who will be challenging to the faculty, exciting in the classroom, and a catalyst in the community.
So, we see our jobs as admission staff not only to evaluate high school performance (those high level classes, test scores, and out-of-school activities or commitments), but also do our best to predict college success and fit with the Emory University ethos—performing at a high level and aimed at doing good in the global community.