With Oberlin’s regular decision deadline now in the rearview mirror, I want to talk about what happens after you press “submit” on your application. First, congratulations! Putting together a college application is a lot of work and is a reflection of years of preparation. This is a major milestone and I hope you find some time to celebrate all you’ve accomplished so far.
You’ve put in the work, but now comes what some argue is the hardest part — waiting.
While you do that, it’s crunch time for admissions offices around the country. “Reading Season” is officially off and running; we are busy reviewing files and getting to know all of our applicants! We have a lot of files to read in a short period of time, so from now until early March, Oberlin’s admissions staff will be spending almost all of our time reading applications. So if you email your counselor with a question, they will respond, but you can expect it to take a day or two.
You might be wondering, how do we read our applications? Different schools have different approaches, but at Oberlin, we read files in pairs. My reading partner and I will talk about things that stand out as we go through an application, then we’ll make an initial recommendation for how to proceed (admit, waitlist, or deny). That recommendation goes to the full admissions committee, which reviews the file and makes a final decision (I’ve simplified the process a bit here, but you get the idea).
We consider a number of things when we read an application. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the things we look for and why:
Academics: how strong a student are you? We’re looking at things like your grades, standardized test scores (if you chose to submit them), and if you are challenging yourself with the courses you’re taking (based on what’s available at your school).
Why this is important: we want to know that you are prepared to succeed academically at Oberlin.
Extracurriculars: what do you do outside of school? Are you doing school-based activities like a sport or clubs, working, helping out at home, volunteering, etc.?
Why this is important: there’s a lot more to going to school than taking classes. We want to know that you will be involved in our campus community.
Recommendations: what do your teachers say about you? Do you participate in class, what kind of student are you, how are you in group settings?
Why this is important: we want students who are engaged in their education and will be good classmates to other Obies.
For me, Reading Season is simultaneously brutal and amazing. My eyes don’t love the incessant screen time, but it’s a such privilege to get to know my applicants. I especially love reading your essays. My favorite so far this year has been a student who compared herself to an everything bagel.
Oberlin will release its admissions decisions in mid March. Until then, you need to check your email regularly. Pretty please with a cherry (or the ice cream topping of your choice) on top. We’ll send you status updates and other important information about your application via email. If your application is missing something, we’ll email you. If we have a question about your file, we’ll email you. When we’re getting ready to release decisions, we’ll email you. Are you sensing a trend?
I’ll do another post shortly before decisions are released that talks about what happens after that, including my best tips for ultimately deciding where you want to go this fall. Until then, keep an eye on your inbox!
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