This week’s episode of This American Life, “How I Got Into College,” is all about trying to decode college acceptance. Which, you know, we find kinda interesting.
In the first part of the episode, the show reporters go to Columbia University on the first day of the semester and talk to freshmen, asking them why they think they got accepted, or what worked about their application. But a lot of students admit they they just have NO FREAKING IDEA why they got accepted.
Here’s what host Ira Glass has to say about his own experience:
I remember I was completely clueless when it came to applying to college. What to do to get in. What to say on the essays to convince them that I was worthy of their schools. And even more basic than that, I really had no idea what would possibly make one school better than another. How to figure out what schools to apply to. It was overwhelming.
We feel ya, Ira Glass. And you’re awesome and your show is great, so it’s comforting to know that you share the frustration of many.
But we’re a little worried that this particular episode may have left folks feeling a bit more clueless than clued in to what works in the application process. So we rounded up our team of College Consultants and Editors to have ’em weigh in on all this.
HOWEVER. We’re not gonna answer the question, “How I Got Into College,” because like many of those Columbia freshies, we can’t actually KNOW that. So instead, we answered this more helpful question:
“What was the best thing you did when applying to college?”
John Bailey Owen, Senior Editor: I think the best thing I did was give them a sense of who I actually was. I made sure that everything that was actually important to me found its way into my application. I used my essays to show the most personal, least-school-related side of me (one of them was about how much I loved exploring the woods around my house, one of them was about how much I enjoyed raising cacti and succulents)…stuff that my grades wouldn’t show, stuff that my teacher recommendations wouldn’t touch on, either.