The Admissions Process: Who Evaluates College Applications?

Ivy League Prep’s approach to helping our clients craft successful college applications is based on our deep knowledge of the admissions process. Even though the application reading process differs from one school to another, the key people involved typically remain the same. Applications are read by the regional admissions officer, two additional readers, and the admissions committee.

Regional Admissions Officer

Upon receiving your application folder, the admissions officer for your region will spend roughly 20–25 minutes reading the application. During this short period, the officer will try to understand who you are and what you have accomplished. To do this, the admissions officer will examine your academic credentials, essays, extracurricular activities, awards, third-party recognition, and recommendations.

If your application has a strong, clear theme, the admissions officer will notice it. However, if the application lacks a compelling narrative, the officer will not find it memorable. A large number of applications, as many as 25% or more, are rejected after the first reading.

After going through your application, the admissions officer will assign scores based on your academics and extracurriculars and then return your folder for further processing.

The officer can mark highly impressive applications for acceptance and directly send your folder to the director of admissions. If, on the other hand, the officer determines that the application will almost certainly be rejected, they can mark the folder for rejection and send it directly to the associate director of admissions.

Second Reader

If your application is passed on to another reader, the process basically repeats itself. The second reader is generally another admissions officer, a professor, or, in some cases, a third party who the college trusts to read and score applications.

Because the first reader has already completed biographical information and done any necessary record keeping, the second reader can keep the whole picture in view more easily as they assess applications.

The second reader will then assign a score and send the folder either to a third reader or to the admissions committee.

Third Reader

Generally, the third person to read an application will either be the associate director of admissions or the director of admissions.

If both the first and second readers indicate that an applicant should be rejected, the folder will be sent to the associate director for a decision. These applications are usually rejected. On the other hand, if both the first and second readers indicate that an applicant should be accepted, the director of admissions will receive the file and either decide to accept the applicant or send the folder to the admissions committee.

Applications that are neither accepted nor rejected at this point will end up going to the admissions committee for deliberation.

Admissions Committee

If a decision has not been made after the third reading, the application is sent to the admissions committee.

Admissions committees can be structured in various ways. Some schools have a single committee comprised of admissions officers, the director of admissions, and, occasionally, professors or trusted third parties. Other schools have several smaller committees made up of admissions officers and professors.

Typically, the admissions committee is told how many applications it must consider and how many spots are available. Then, it has the unenviable task of working through a vast number of qualified applicants and deciding which ones to admit.

The regional admissions officer will usually present an applicant to the committee and explain why they should be admitted. The other members of the committee then review the applicant’s information, discuss their accomplishments and the value they would add to the school, and make a final decision.

Learning more about the college admissions process will prepare you to craft a unique applicant profile with a strong theme and a compelling narrative. Ivy League Prep would be glad to help you achieve that goal and gain admission to the most prestigious schools.