February 27, 2013 by Admit It!
We Admit It! We love the conversation generated by our Committee discussions and the conversations that arise from the “Overheard in Committee” blogs. This is our first week of Regular Decision committee and so far we’ve reviewed some incredible applicants and had some great conversations. So without further ado…
Overheard in Committee today: “The only thing not to like is her testing.”
We were reviewing an applicant who had taken great courses, who had nearly all As and who was incredibly involved in extracurricular organizations with several leadership positions. The one hold up with her application was her ACT score which is well below our average. We mean when we say that your SAT/ACT scores are one factor of many. While certainly not a make-or-break factor by themselves, they are something we consider, and they are a criterion by which you are compared to the other students who are applying. In the case of this applicant, she was great in all areas save one. The issue is that we had already reviewed numerous applicants today who had also taken great courses, earned great grades and who were incredibly involved in extracurricular organizations while holding leadership positions. However, they also had better testing.
So when we say “The only thing not to like is testing,” what we are really asking ourselves is is this applicant compelling enough to take instead of admitting other students with similarly strong qualifications and higher testing. The answer to that isn’t always the same. Sometimes every other part of the application is so awesome such that the individual’s positive merits far outweigh their weaker testing, and the applicant is admitted. Sometimes we decide that there just isn’t quite enough else in the other parts of the application to compel us to take that student over one with similar qualities and higher testing. Sometimes it depends on just how much less competitive the applicant’s testing is compared to other students.
The point here is two-fold. First, know that testing isn’t everything. The applicant that prompted this blog attends a very competitive out-of-state public high school, took 10 AP courses, was in the top 5% of her class and held four leadership positions including student body president, the starring role in five different main stage productions and debate captain. While her testing was decently below our middle 50% range for out-of-state applicants, it was within our overall middle 50% range. And in committee today, she was admitted. Second, know that the decisions we are making are incredibly difficult. Applicant after applicant who comes through committee is fantastic. This student could have easily been waitlisted because we were comparing her to literally hundreds of other students in that same region all of whom had had great transcripts, great testing and great personal qualities. So in essence, you all ROCK our worlds and we make very nuanced decisions between equally great students. We truly wish we could admit just about everyone who comes before the Committee, unfortunately, the close-knit nature of the W&M community and our relatively small class size doesn’t allow us to admit everyone we want to.
So there you go. Your first voyeuristic ride into the 2013 committee deliberations. More to come.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
PS: If you are concerned about our health and want to make sure we’re eating enough as we move through committee, no worries. The snack cart pictured in last week’s blog is dwindling slowly but surely. We’ve consumed a bag of Cheeze-Its, two bags of frosted animal crackers, 10 granola bars and several snack-size packages of peanuts, Pringles, Fig Newtons and trail mix.