There was an article in the WSJ yesterday that was a little depressing. I am a numbers wonk, but these numbers left me gasping for air. Back in the "good old days" it seems that selective colleges like Bucknell, which gets more than 10,000 applications a year, used to take 12 to 15 minutes to review each application. 12 to 15 minutes! That is all! It appears that was actually too much time, given the volume of applications, and they now use a system called committee-based evaluation.

Each application is divided between two admissions department staffers. One reads the essays, recommendations and extracurriculars while the other goes over the transcript and test scores. This process has shortened the time involved to 8 minutes per application. (Really, that is 16 "person minutes", so basically the same amount of time.) What does this mean for the student who spends hours poring over his or her application? I would argue it makes writing a concise, interesting and well-written essay all the more important. It also means that every part of the application the student has control over (basically everything the student writes) has to be carefully reviewed not just for errors and typos, but for clarity and impact. If someone is just going to spend eight minutes reviewing an application, it better be REALLY well written! 


One of the main roles of the college consultant is to help the student develop a distinct personal narrative that ties the entire application together. That means everything from the list of activities, to the personal statement that most of the colleges will see, to the supplemental questions posed by individual colleges needs to demonstrate a single, common theme. Who is this student and why do I, the admissions director of XYZ University, want to offer him or her admission? This theme becomes all the more important when you recognize that the entire application will be reviewed in under 20 minutes—TOTAL! Creating this well-defined personal story is not easy for students because they are unaccustomed to thinking about themselves holistically and parsing it into a college application. But it is what we do every day! By working with a college consultant, your child will be able to reveal themselves to the colleges of their choice and make a positive impact-in 8 minutes!


H Stark Consulting is a premier college consulting firm focused on matching students with the best college options and alleviating the stress of the college application process.  For more information on services offered please Contact Us.