Take a common sense approach

Most of our on-campus Information Sessions are conducted by current students, but a member of the staff joins the conversation to discuss admissions issues.  Way back in September (seems so long ago…), there weren’t many admissions/application-specific questions for us.  With the application deadline for January 2011 enrollment already passed, and the deadline for Early Notification applications (November 15) almost upon us, attendees are more plugged in, and they have many questions, a few of which will be like “What exactly do you mean on question #6 of the application?”

There are definitely parts of the application that may seem tricky, given a mismatch between the applicant’s experience and the constraints of the form itself.  For example, some people have more travel, or more professional positions, than we include room for.  But that doesn’t mean that there’s some hidden agenda behind the way we pose the questions.  For most applicants and most problems with the application, here’s what I suggest.

Approach the application with the assumption that the Admissions Committee is trying to gather information that it needs, while also giving you an opportunity to present many different facets of your background.  Yes, the online system constrains us from offering space to list all 11 languages you speak.  (That’s where the résumé and the “additional information” section of the application step in.)  But, as you figure out how to squeeze your life into a multi-question form and two essays, you’ll find that a little common sense will take you a long way.  Answer the questions in the way and location we ask.  Give careful thought to whether the additional information you want to add will actually enhance our understanding of you or your background.  You may find that what fits into the form is sufficient, but if not, use one of the free-form sections of the application to complete the information.

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