Help Please! meeting with college admissions counselor tomorrow-- any tips?

stupid question, but what's the adverbial form of "panic"?

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Mar 3, 2023
aaack i've got a meeting with the admissions counselor for my DREAM college (agnes scott!) and yet i still have little to no idea what i want to ask. it's a zoom meeting and i can ask any questions about the college/how to get in that i like, but that's all i know. i really really really want to get into this college (as in, i will probably evaporate into dust if i get rejected) and i want to do what i can to guarantee i get in, including being a memorable prospective student to my counselor, for whatever brownie points that may score me. any tips from the Great and Powerful Elders of litopia, whose distant past is my near future?
When I went for my admissions meeting at Reed College, I noticed the counselor used a clay jar of marmalade to hold his pencils and pens. Marmalade. My entree into the intellectual elite.

For you:

1. You are a wonderful person and have an outstanding talent.
2. If your college of choice makes a terrible decision, they will suffer from it, wondering why they turned you away.
3. Keep writing. You are wonderful and have it all, the talent and the future.
At the same time, what are Agnes Scott's admission criteria?
why do i not know this off the top of my head by now. looking it up...

...oh, it's because i'm actually pretty good with those. the admission criteria isn't at all strict. 4 years of each core class and 2 years a of foreign language class, which, thanks to high school credits in middle school and a block schedule, i'm already half-done with in freshman year. SAT/ACT score submission is optional, and whether or not a prospective student submits them doesn't affect their consideration for scholarships or acceptance. and proficiency in the english language, definitely.
Keep in mind, I went to a Swiss college back in the mid 80s, so I may not be the most modern best person to advise but I think it'll apply.

A few things come to mind, and the following is a bit chaotic cos my brain isn't in gear. Anyway ....

Treat the interview like a job interview. In a job interview, they want to see how you will fit and benefit them, and what you will be like to work with. What will you bring to them. Think about what they may want from a student and what's important to them. How will YOU match that.

So, you need to research them. (I'm sure you have already.) Make notes. Think through it all in advance. Know as much about them as you can. Things like:
  • What's the college's entry requirements are and how do you meet that, give specific examples.
  • what is their ethos (who are they and how can you meet that). How do you fit with that. How can you be an 'ambassador' for that ethos.
  • Alumni (is there a known ex-student you resemble/aspire to be / admire - a bit like comparison auhtors to an agent). And in which way do you compare to these people. Which aspects do they have that you aspire to.
  • Read through the college website and read between the lines. You'll see what is important to them and then you can pick which part of that you will match.
You don't need to "quote" all this at the interview, but if you know this well, you can talk about it in conversations and have something to refer to.

Basically, they want to see how will you benefit THEM as much as how they will benefit you. That benefit will be anything from money (tuition fees. have you got them in place? If so, tell them! If not and have a plan on how you will get them should they ask), to having the prestige of a good student (which you clearly are so they will see that). Think through it from their side. They too are looking for a pay off in this. They want to see how you will fit with them and what you can bring to them.

Things you can bring to them:
  • You academic stuff / grades / your achievements in the past couple years. They'll like students who will do well and thrive there and make the college look good.
  • Have you mentored other students? That shows that you're supportive, and a team player.
  • Have you done any volunteering that somehow fits their ethos (i.e. is it a school with a strong social ethos and you've volunteered in a homeless shelter. What is the colleges focus and have you any experience in that - I went to a college which was run by priests and had a social / humanitarian ethos. I had to reflect that in the interview.).
  • etc. There will be more
Next, make a list of how this particular school will benefit YOU.
  • Know why you want to go there. and it should be more than 'because it's a good college'. Why them. Be specific. What detail / aspect makes them a good place. How does that make them a good place.
  • How will this college affect your future, your education, knowledge, your future job prospects, your life.
  • etc there will be more
  • If you know why you want to go there and how it'll benefit you, you can prepare questions you have of them.
Organise your notes in an easy-read, organised format on an A4 paper (yes, paper! not screen. Paper is easier to handle under pressure, doesn't go to 'standby', and doesn't have a battery that may run out). Then bring it to the interview. Goes without saying, learn the notes so you don't actually have to read them out at the interview. Learn them so you can speak freely without looking at the paper, but have the notes nearby so when you dry up you have something to say. It doesn't matter if you forget something or don't get to talk about them all.

*Am I making sense?? I hope so. Like I said my brain isn't in gear.

If they see your potential of who you can be, of what they will bring to you, and what you can bring to the school, it should be a breeze.

Easy, right?

During the interview, smile. Be passionate about learning, about growing as a person, about life, about the college. You'll be fine.
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and proficiency in the english language, definitely
PS, this is just a small point, and I hope you don't mind me saying. I've noticed you don't use any capital letters when you write here (only lower case letters), which is fine here (we don't mind), but when you write to them, I hope you use caps where caps are needed. If you haven't, start doing it with anything that is important, like college, job etc. It'll show professionalism, work discipline, attention to detail, knowledge of English language etc. And in this day and age, doing it may even make you stand out from your peers. :)
A quick search suggests a 70% acceptance rate, depending on the course you are applying for. Which is?

Gen up. Two instant impressions. The college is famous for its Victorian Gothic well up are you on Victorian Gothic literature?

(Their mascot is the Scottish terrier. Why?)

What can you bring to the college? It can't hurt that you are an active member of a well established UK based literary community.
Heyyyy now, it has only been…. Let me take my socks off—14 or so years since I first applied to college. But, at least at the time, colleges were looking for well-rounded individuals. Turns out that straight-backed, straight A student doesn’t have the best track record making it through 4 years of university when her parents aren’t constantly breathing down her neck. So perhaps try highlighting interdisciplinary activities and groups you’ve been a part of. Litopia is certainly one. It showcases a beautiful part of who you are: the part that tries something new, the part that’s consistently looking improve yourself.

And, as always, you can never go wrong with a salute to “life-long learner.” Drop that phrase all casual-like and, without actually committing to a thing, you’ve got them thinking maybe—just maybe—they can get a PhD out of you.
Goodness me, I'm rather late to this party, but as a professor at a university, I am going to echo a lot of what @Barbara said rather eloquently. Goodness, she was thorough.

Here are my other thoughts, and they might stress you out or not, but here we go:

All of the acceptance rate standards signal to me that the interview is yours to lose. A 70% acceptance rate is rather high, and a 44K per year bill is even higher. It is your dream college, but quick math tells me that it's also about 200K in debt by the end. If you DO get in, and do NOT get pretty hefty scholarships, for fuck's sakes, DO. NOT. GO. You might regret the decision at the time, but it will ruin your life. If they are prepared to offer you some pretty hefty student aid that you do NOT have to pay back (or, if your parents can swing that for you), awesome. Go for it. That being said, private schools normally have foundations and are more quick to grant scholarships to the deserving poor and middle class to defray costs.

At the end of the day, it's not a selective school, and they are doing everything they can to get butts in seats for the next year. The no-SAT policy is a big sign of that. So that means that you're going to have a lot of people in there who really couldn't get into better schools. As a teacher in several such institutions, it's been...challenging. Personally, in your shoes, I would likely try to find even a state school with a lower acceptance rate and see if I can get into that--it might be cheaper as well.

What do you want to major in there? WHY THERE and noplace else? Tell the Admin Officer that if you know it. If you want to do Creative Writing because you are a fan of Professor X, who's been writing there, or their CW program, this is the time to tell them that it's been really taking of real estate in your head.

In terms of the interview, do as Barbara has said. Be professional and try to show yourself as thoughtful. We have enough driven "I AM GOING TO BE A DOCTOR BY GOD" students and we don't want those anymore. You have no idea how awful those students are in History, or English, or Algebra. Show that your mind is open and that you want to learn something. What was the latest thing you went down a rabbit hole about that you could geek out about? Show that you are curious and open-minded. Especially if you present yourself as like "THE WORLD IS SO INTERESTING" they might think, "Oh this is promising. We might get a fifth or sixth aimless undergrad year out of her as she figures herself out." It sounds rather cynical, but lately many of these private schools have been one step ahead of closure, and with others folding, they might have that in the back of their minds.

It's contradictory advice, I know, but it's realistic. If it's truly your dream, then okay. I'm not impressed with the college, but it's not my dream. It doesn't need to be. It's yours, and, likewise, go into that interview thinking, I've already got this. Because in reality, I can guarandamntee you that with a 70% acceptance rate, this interview is a formality, and at this time of the year, it's also to get YOU revved up because of the personal contact and confirm that you are going. In other words, they are doing this to hook you, not to weed you out--that would only happen under extraordinary circumstances. I had to sign recommendation letters for my students applying to Vanderbilt in January, Yale was due in late February, Early-Admissions Duke was due in December. Personal interview was not something for them, because these schools don't give a damn about hooking you. They are good, and they know it, and they don't have to convince you to come, because they have the big names. By the middle of March, I had sent in my confirmation of attendance letters to my undergrad, and then grad school, and then PhD program. It's almost May by now, and they're anxious that you haven't decided against them and want to coax you back in if you're wavering--the amount of students who agree and then never show is high, and no matter what they do, Freshman year drop-out statistics are astronomical across the board.

So that's my insight. If you get in, it's because you're showcasing what a charming, adventurous, and curious person you are. If you don't, then please come to me and we'll have this talk again, because believe me, it's not as bad as you think.


The History Professor.
Oh, I forgot. They have a 10:1 student/faculty ratio.

From your perspective, you are like, MORE STUDENT ATTENTION.

From my perspective, it screams NOBODY WANTS TO GO THERE.

Also be prepared that that class on Victorian literature you wanted to take (incidentally, Collegiate Gothic is one of standard architectural styles in the US and Canada, because everybody wants to pretend they are Oxford or Cambridge) is probably going to be canceled because only three people signed up and none of them had it as a required class to graduate, OR you have a class where it's just you and the teacher because you're the only one who signed up AND it's on your list of requirements. When I teach, I teach toward the people who did not do the reading. If you have, then after twenty minutes, we'll be sitting there, looking at each other awkwardly. I've taught these classes. Believe me, a class of 3 is WAY worse than a class of 23.
Update: The 10:1 ratio at an SLAC (Small Liberal Arts College) isn't that ominous, I suppose. I have the typical arrogance of I-went-to-bigger-schools and I am willing to call myself out on it. I am still not impressed that the cost-benefit analysis of 182K for four years is going to be something worth it unless you want to have debt slavery for the rest of your life. Which is definitely a thing and will restrict your freedoms in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. Hate your job? Too bad. You can't quit because that 400 bucks a month student loan payment isn't. going. anywhere. Want to be a writer? My God, it better be a best-seller. Don't fuck around with the things that sing to your soul. Give me commercial. Did you have dreams that weren't corporate? Oh my sweet summer child. That's too bad. This debt will dictate every decision you make for the rest of your life, and you will sell yourself to whomever is willing to get them off your back. And they will never be off your back.

You weren't clear, though: if this is an interview for a scholarship rather than mere admissions, then hell to the yes. Get that money.
thank you to everyone for all the replies, and especially @Jason L. whose responses gave me little heart attacks :)
i am not as worried about the cost as i maybe should be-- my family is very well off, and i trust myself to qualify for scholarships (hopefully zell miller and marvin b. perry presidential). but i mean, i'm still definitely worried. i have a teeny tiny college fund that i plan to focus on putting more money into once i get a job (there's nothing to spend my money on in high school anyway), so that will be a small help.
i'm definitely not so naive as to only apply to agnes scott (i've spent too many hours researching colleges instead of sleeping), but agnes scott is the college i most want to go to. there's no way i'd ever get accepted to an ivy league school anyway, lol.
to @Barbara , yes, i do use proper capitalization in all formal cases :) i default to lowercase on the internet and social media. it just seems calmer and softer for me, i suppose-- or maybe i'm just the poster child for gen Z.

i'm still absolutely, definitely, and totally terrified at the general prospect of applying to, paying for, and attending college, as one is. i'm not sure if my worried are baseless or not, considering no other freshmen/sophomores think about college more than they think about their outfit for the day, but better safe than sorry, i suppose. there's not a lot i can do to help my chances of getting into (and surviving the cost of) agnes scott right now, but i'll sure try.
A quick search suggests a 70% acceptance rate, depending on the course you are applying for. Which is?
majors and minors at agnes scott (or any college) worry me. my current plan is to major in education, because my fall-back plan if being a novelist doesn't take off at first (99.999% chance it won't) is to be a teacher, but that's a maybe. i can see myself majoring in almost every option they have on the list, so currently i'm conflicted. i think i'm way too uninformed about majors in colleges-- honestly any info on them would be appreciated greatly, if you happen to have any.
majors and minors at agnes scott (or any college) worry me. my current plan is to major in education, because my fall-back plan if being a novelist doesn't take off at first (99.999% chance it won't) is to be a teacher, but that's a maybe. i can see myself majoring in almost every option they have on the list, so currently i'm conflicted. i think i'm way too uninformed about majors in colleges-- honestly any info on them would be appreciated greatly, if you happen to have any.

Sorry to blow cold air, Brooke, but this-

i really really really want to get into this college (as in, i will probably evaporate into dust if i get rejected)

This doesn't gel with the lack of a stated plan or specific goal.

Forgive me. I went to uni at a time when we still got a grant. My younger daughter went to a Uni and came away with a shitty three years experience under her belt, and it was the uni that was shitty, and with an Honours degree, upper second, a debt of c 40k. And also she came away with the lecturer's cat. Who now lives with us and we adore her, but there's a story. Following graduation she did 14 jobs, all zero hours, all useful life experience, then got fed up of having no money and went to do a thing in the UK, the PGCE, to qualify as a primary teacher. This meant a further year of full time training. Then she taught supply for nearly 3 years, and now she is working, finally earning a regular salary - and thereby starting to repay her student debt-and clocking up a new added requirement of 5 terms of Early Career Teaching monitored work based training.

But, in short, for you right now, there is an apparent discrepancy between the dream and the plan or lack of plan.

For your sake, Brooke, they should be selling to YOU. And take your time before you accept an offer. Do, do, most carefully look the gift horse in the mouth.
Hold the phone. If you want to major in education, unless you do get those scholarships, choose a cheaper school. As someone in education, i can tell you that it is horrifically underpaid and undervalued, and if you went into six figures of debt for it, you're only shot is to hope you marry well.

What about this school attracts you? The charming brick buildings and the laid-back atmosphere when you did the tour? What sold you on this one?

SLACs are a dime a dozen. I have been on dozens of them in my career, and have meandered through charming Victorian piles, imposing Palladian marble porticoes, brick-lined sidewalks, one with minarets everywhere (University of Tampa) that smelled of mold in the main building, and other such places. The atmosphere shouldn't be what's selling you. It's the future you are carving out for yourself.

Taking a gap year is not the end of the world. Or two years at your local CC to cut down on the costs. I wish I had done that: I can tell you having taught at a CC that I prefer it: the students are better and more invested, and the teachers are there JUST to teach, and nothing else, which means that they are actually invested in what they are doing (in a four-year, I know many professors who consider teaching the penalty they have to pay in order to do what they really want to do, which is to research and be smart). Actually, you would be surprised: my local CC had significantly better teachers than my 4-year. Admin/advising was kind of a mess, but knocking off tens of thousands off your total debt for this is a big deal.
majors and minors at agnes scott (or any college) worry me. my current plan is to major in education, because my fall-back plan if being a novelist doesn't take off at first (99.999% chance it won't) is to be a teacher, but that's a maybe. i can see myself majoring in almost every option they have on the list, so currently i'm conflicted. i think i'm way too uninformed about majors in colleges-- honestly any info on them would be appreciated greatly, if you happen to have any.
In a liberal arts college, the first two years go for introductory courses and are intended to give students time to explore their interests before settling on a major and minor for the second two years. You might also look at more selective SLACs, such as Reed and St. John's. A woman I know graduated Reed with a BA in linguistics, took an interest in science, earned a PhD in environmental engineering at Berkeley, and became a professional engineer. A man I know learned Greek, Latin and a lot of history at St. John's and now runs a profitable software company based in Manhattan. Both came from middle-class, not wealthy, families and needed financial aid. The selective schools often have huge endowments to provide scholarships, so you graduate with little or no debt, assuming you keep up high grades. How can this be? Their graduates earn a lot of money and give generously to the colleges because they value what the colleges gave them.
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You might also look at more selective SLACs, such as Reed and St. John's.
i actually would very much like to get accepted to Spelman, but it's extremely prestigious, which gives me huge imposter syndrome when i think i have a shot at getting in. plus, i've had my eye on agnes scott since the third grade, and even though i'm realizing there's nothing to it that really stands out above other colleges, it's my dream because... it is.
this isn't an admissions meeting, per se-- i set up the meeting and the time, so it's more of a Q&A with my counselor on what i can do to maximize my chances of getting in when i do apply. but this thread and a discussion i recently had with a teacher have made me think harder about why i really want to go to agnes scott, and if it has anything that spelman or other colleges don't. it's giving me a little bit of an existential crisis :)
for now, i'll spend the next hour researching everything that i haven't already memorized on agnes scott, 'cause as soon as i walk in the door at 4 PM, it's meeting time! thank you to everyone replying to this thread, especially @Jason L. for your help in getting me out of the starry-eyed college fantasy i've been stuck in the past few days leading up to this meeting.
I feel like a bit of a monster about shattering illusions across my knee. But you're young, and still have a year(ish) to decide, right? Spelman has a MUCH bigger pull, so don't sell yourself short on that. Remember, you should also have your "reach" school. My "dream" college was Trinity University in Dublin from the third grade on. I did not apply and frankly, do not regret that for a minute. I have gotten a fantastic education, had a life full of adventure, and even if it's been an unconventional life, it's mine and mine alone.
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stupid question, but what's the adverbial form of "panic"?

New Thriller and Beloved Rebel