Last Wednesday, the University hosted a webcast featuring admissions deans from eight prestigious colleges and universities. The event, called “Inside the Admissions Office,” was a collaboration between the Wall Street Journal and Unigo.com, a website that offers an inside look into the college admissions process. According to a campus-wide email from the Admissions Office, the webcast is expected to have a wide international viewership.

In the first 45 minutes, the panel fielded questions from the moderator, Jordan Goldman ’04, CEO and founder of Unigo.com. In the second half, panel members answered questions from student-made videos and audience members. The admissions deans, representing Bryn Mawr, Grinnell, Marquette, Princeton, Penn, University of Vermont, Williams, and Wesleyan, respectively, covered topics ranging from “how important are standardized tests” to “should you move to North Dakota” in order to improve your chances of admission.

When asked to rate the components of the college application by level of importance, panel members provided varying answers. Janet Rapelye of Princeton University said the transcript was the most important factor. Half the panel responded that interviews weighed heavily in their decision to admit students.

On the topic of college essays, Roby Blust of Marquette University reminded students not to miss the deadline. College essays, he advised, do not need to be about colossal events—he pointed out that the best essay he’s ever read was about a student’s summer experience working in a convenience store. Rapelye recommended that students spell-check their essays and noted the applicant’s parents should not write the personal essay for them.

Members of the panel also disclosed that applicants’ Facebook profiles are scrutinized by admissions officers. Content that is compromising or inappropriate should be taken down, according to Rapelye. He cited an example of a student who posted an entry on his Facebook expressing excitement about drugs and alcohol at Marquette University; his acceptance was subsequently rescinded.

This webcast was the first of a series that will be held in various institutions around the nation.

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