top of page

Unlocking the Secrets to College Admissions: Insights from an Admissions Officer

The process of applying to college can often be overwhelming and intimidating for high school students. From good grades to extracurricular activities, the list of requirements can seem endless. However, with the right strategy, you can increase your chances of getting accepted. Former admissions officer Dr. Roslyn Haley has read thousands of college applications and today she shares the top secrets for success.

Demonstrate Passion Over Quantity: One of the most common misconceptions among applicants is the belief that they need to be involved in several extracurricular activities to strengthen their application. However, the truth is that admissions officers are much more interested in your level of commitment and passion for one or two activities than a long list of activities with minimal involvement. So, when choosing your extracurricular activities, focus on things you genuinely enjoy and feel passionate about. This will show that you are truly invested in your interests.

Don't be Discouraged by Test Scores/Grades: While strong academic performance is important, especially at Ivy League universities, it is not the only factor. Admissions officers rarely base their decision solely on test scores and grades. They also consider characteristics like perseverance, creativity, and leadership when evaluating applications. Test scores and grades are only one aspect of your application, so do not get discouraged if they are not as high as you hoped. Instead, focus on showcasing other unique strengths you have and participate in advanced extracurricular activities, such as college-level research internships. These initiatives demonstrate to colleges your capacity to utilize your knowledge in actual research environments, equipping you for the challenges you'll encounter during your college experience. Local research opportunities in Southern California are available for high school students at

Get to Know the University: It is essential to understand the nature of the university you want to apply to. Look up the courses, traditions, departments, values, and culture of the university. By doing this, you will get a better idea of what the university looks for in its students. You can incorporate these values and traditions in your application essays and responses. Showcasing your knowledge of the university and how it aligns with your goals and aspirations is essential in standing out among the thousands of applicants.

The Importance of Authenticity: One of the most important factors in the evaluation of applications is authenticity. Admissions officers can quickly detect insincere applications. So, it is key that you showcase your genuine self in your application. This can easily be done by telling your story in your application. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable. Share your background, unique experiences, and personal challenges. This will add depth and give a unique perspective into your character.

Getting accepted to a top university can be challenging but not impossible. By following the above secrets, you can put yourself in a better position to secure your spot. Remember, it is important to understand the values and culture of the university, be sincere in your application, focus on your areas of passion, participate in research opportunities, and don't rely solely on test scores. By incorporating these insights into your application, you will give yourself a competitive advantage and set yourself apart from other applicants.


bottom of page