How to Learn About Colleges

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The college admissions process often feels overwhelming, and the absolute glut of information out there about colleges contributes to that. We have created the college fact sheets to help here, but many students want to hear directly from colleges themselves. After all, where better to learn about what a college wants than from the college itself?

Admissions officers are aware of this, and to meet this need many admissions departments run blogs, youtube channels, or have other online resources to answer student questions. Not all of these resources are created equal, however. In this article, we’ll explore the different kinds of college admissions blogs, and give you links to the ones we’ve found most useful. 

The Types of Admission Blogs

All admissions blogs are designed to inform students about the college in question, and answer incipient questions. The kind of questions they are aimed at answering differs greatly however. Generally, students have several tracks of questions when researching universities. The first is along the lines of: “What is this school like? What is student life like there? What is the housing situation? What’s the campus culture?” 

There are a great many admissions blogs which focus almost entirely on addressing these kinds of questions. Good examples of these blogs are the UChicago Uncommon Blog, and the Yale Bulldog Blog. Both of these blogs focus on articles from students on their experiences and life at their respective schools, and are a good place to learn what the student experience at a specific college entails.

There is another track of student questions which these blogs do not do a good job of answering however. This track goes: “What does the admissions process look like? What do you want in an applicant? Will I get into your school? How does admissions work anyway?” These are all valid questions, but not all admissions departments are eager to answer them. The blogs that do answer these questions will be the main focus of this article, and we’ll give you examples of some of our favorites.

Finally, there are schools which don’t have separate admissions blogs at all. Schools like Stanford and UT Austin offer advice and guidance on their websites, but don’t have separate blogs dedicated to admissions subjects. While their websites can still be informative, they don’t address the same kinds of questions that blogs often do.

Our Favorite “Process” Blogs

These are the admissions blogs which directly address the process of admissions. While they often do feature many articles from students on life at the school, they also include pieces written by admissions officers on the inner workings of the admissions process, and what they look for in students.

These blogs aren’t identical, but they are all useful in their own way. Each is, of course, tailored to their own school, but the insights they provide on the inner workings of admissions can be applied to many schools. All top universities receive many more applications than they have spaces for students, and the thought process behind the winnowing is enlightening. We hope you will find these blogs as useful as we have; though it may take some sifting to find articles that answer your specific questions.

MIT’s Blog

MIT’s admissions blog is the best of both worlds when it comes to admissions blogs. It has articles from current students on what their life at the school is like, and also articles from admissions officers on what their jobs entail, and how they make their decisions. They even allow you to filter these articles by tag, so you can narrow down what you’re looking for.

There are some posts of theirs which we believe are worth noting individually, and we recommend you read them if you want insight into the admissions process. These are:

  • It’s more than a job: This blog details not just how applications are reviewed at each step of the process, but how admissions officers think and feel during that time. 
  • The room(s) where it happens: This goes into more depth on the nitty-gritty of how admissions departments work, and how they review your applications.
  • Applying sideways: This blog post is as close as you’ll get to a direct answer from an admissions officer to the question: “How do I get into your school?”

Tulane’s Blog

Tulane’s admissions blog (formerly here) is notable because it is run by the director of undergraduate admissions directly. This makes it a very good source to learn what the admissions department is looking for in students. A notable article from this blog is: “What are we looking for in an applicant?” which provides a detailed look into what the Tulane admissions department wants from students, and how you can best apply to the school. If only all schools were this open!

UPenn’s Blog

UPenn’s admissions blog is similar to MIT’s in some ways, as it has articles both on student life, and on the admissions process itself. While it is not as open as MIT’s blog about how the process works, there is still useful information here for students who want to apply. Their blog is less generally applicable, however.

University of Michigan’s Blog

The University of Michigan’s admissions blog is another in the vein of MIT. While its main focus is still on the school’s culture and atmosphere, it also has articles on the admissions process. Some of these are more general, and some are explicitly about applying to UMichigan itself.

The Ross School of Business runs their own admissions blog, which we recommend to students who are interested in applying to the Ross School specifically. It has less material than the main admissions blog, but is more narrow in its focus, so that’s to be expected. It’s articles cover life at Ross, and the admissions process for the business school.

Final Thoughts

Colleges want to give you information, but are sometimes reluctant to reveal too much of how the final admissions decisions are made. This can be frustrating for students, who often want to know exactly this information. Fortunately, some blogs do give insight into the process, and this data can be extrapolated widely.

The college admissions process is often frightening simply because students know so little about how the decisions are made, and this makes them feel powerless. We hope that these resources will open a lens into the unknown for you, and alleviate some of your worries. If you have further concerns or questions about the admissions process, schedule a free consultation with us. We have a depth of experience helping students with the college application process, and are always eager to hear from you.

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