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May 5, 2021

2 Minutes Read

Hi friends,

Greetings from Princeton!

The Savvy Applicant is a weekly email where we share important news and actionable guidance on the selective college admissions process. If you have a question you'd like answered, fire away in a reply to this email. 

If this was forwarded to you and you'd like to join our community of over 5,000 readers, you can sign-up here.  



Upcoming Events


โฌ›A Peek Inside The Black Box of Holistic Admissions

In this live webinar, Princeton College Consulting's Nikki Bruno will begin to demystify the holistic college admissions process. She'll discuss what college admissions committees consider when evaluating applicants, the college admissions timeline, info on scholarships, and end with a Q & A session.

Date: Thursday, May 6 at 7 PM ET. This event is sponsored by Monroe Township (NJ) public library. Register here


๐Ÿš€College Admissions Launchpad (limited spots available)

Hosted by Peter and myself, this intensive 5-hour virtual workshop gives the whole family a comprehensive understanding of admissions decisions at highly selective colleges and the confidence to begin making strategic academic and extra-curricular decisions. 

Date: Saturday, May 15 at 10 AM ET. To learn more Schedule a 30-min intro call with Peter




๐Ÿ’ŒRecommendations Now


Letters of Recommendation can be one of the most frustrating pieces of the selective college admissions process. Many students assume that because a teacher likes them, and they have done well in a course, they will get a great letter of recommendation. This is far from the truth. 

11th graders: If you have not already asked for letters of recommendation, make sure to do so before the end of the spring semester. When do you think a teacher is going to spend more time on your letter, during summer break or in the midst of the fall semester? 

One of the biggest mistakes we see students make is either not providing a teacher with a "brag sheet," or not giving that brag sheet the time and attention it deserves.

Some high schools supply a detailed questionnaire (The Lawrenceville School's has over 60 questions) to help you assemble a brag sheet that makes it easier for your counselor and teachers to write a highly personal and nuanced letter. It takes work to create a compelling brag sheet, but trust us, it's worth it!

If your school doesn't provide a template for a brag sheet, you can create your own. The key is to understand your personal brand and the story you are trying to tell in your application.

What is the 1-2 sentence soundbite you want an admissions officer to identify with you? Once you have a sense of clarity, you have the power to influence specific details of your letters of recommendation that support the story.


Resources for 9th-11th graders:

PCC Ultimate Guide to Letters of Recommendation 

4 Keys to Ivy League Letters of Recommendation

How to Develop a Great Relationship with Your Guidance Counselor




A few more things...


๐Ÿ“ฒTikTok Admissions: In an article about the chaos of the past admissions season, Vice News highlighted the phenomenon of TikTok admission "reveals." The posts commonly display a student's "stats", meaning GPA and SAT score, and the colleges where the student was admitted. What you don't seeโ€” pretty much everything that makes or breaks an application.


โœ๏ธBig Time Essays: Most of you know how important your personal statement is at small and medium sized colleges, but the big schoolsโ€”even the UCs that received over 100K applicationsโ€”are reading closely too. Check out this NPR interview for big time insight into the UC evaluation process.


๐Ÿ“šHelp Me Harlan!: Last week we suggested our friend Harlan Cohen's classic book The Naked Roommate as a congratulatory gift for those seniors now looking toward their college experience. For younger students, we recommend Cohen's new book, Win or Learn. It's focused on the mindset shift that is pretty much essential for success in the selective admissions process (and life). 


Esther Perel