Students pour over their college applications every year, but who actually reads them? You’ve likely heard terms like “college admissions officer,” “college admissions committee,” and “admissions reader” thrown around. But what do these terms actually mean? And how does the admissions process work?

In this article, we will discuss the roles of college admissions officers, admissions committees, and admissions readers. We will also examine questions such as: How long does it take admissions to review an application? What do colleges look for in applicants? And how many admissions officers are there?

Complimentary Initial Consultation

Fill out this form to book your complimentary initial consultation.

What is a college admissions officer?

To start, what is a college admissions officer, and what do they do?

A college admissions officer is responsible for reviewing college applications within a specific region. Depending on the school, an admissions reader might review your application before passing it along to your admissions officer. Colleges know that each high school is unique and has different opportunities and standards. Therefore, in an effort to be fair, college admissions officers are assigned a specific region. Eventually, these officers become experts on the high schools within this region.

High schools also submit school profiles along with students’ college applications. These profiles describe the courses and opportunities available to students. College admissions officers, admissions committees, and admissions readers consider each student’s application within the context of their high school’s profile. College admissions officers, however, are often most familiar with the specific high schools in question. 

It’s important to realize that the college admissions officer reviewing your application is determined by where you live. If a college representative has visited your high school, it is most likely your college admissions officer. After all, the best way for college admissions officers to familiarize themselves with a high school is by visiting. This is why you should introduce yourself to them if the opportunity arises.

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

So, what do admissions officers do, specifically? 

In addition to reviewing your transcripts, test scores, activities, strong personal statement, supplemental essays, and recommendations, college admissions officers summarize your application and present their summary and impressions to a larger college admissions committee. 

Of course, not every college has an official admissions committee. Generally, though, the more selective the school, the more thorough and formal the admissions process. That said, if you are interested in learning how to get into an Ivy League, you should familiarize yourself with the college admissions committee review process.

It’s also important to keep in mind that college admissions officers look at your social media accounts. After all, admissions officers want to gain a holistic understanding of each applicant, and for better or for worse, students’ internet personas are very telling of their interests and values. So make sure your social media presence is appropriate and presentable!

How long do admissions officers read applications?

You’re probably wondering how much time admissions officers spend on each application. On average, college admissions officers review several applications within an hour. That said, if your application makes it through the first round of consideration, an admissions officer will spend much more time with your application. Suppose an admissions officer or admissions reader is not sure whether or not your application is a good fit for the college. In that case, they will seek out a second, or sometimes even a third, opinion before bringing an application to the admissions committee.

What is a college admissions committee?

Each college approaches the admissions process differently. That said, there is a lot of overlap, especially when it comes to highly-selective schools, such as Ivy League institutions. Generally speaking, the more selective the school, the more likely it will be to have an official college admissions committee and a formal review. But what actually happens during the college admissions committee review, and what do colleges look for in an applicant?

How do colleges decide who gets in?

In order to be seriously considered for admission, a student has to be a good academic fit. This means that their high school GPA, history of course rigor, and test scores (if submitted) are up to the college’s standards. Even though many colleges adhere to holistic college admissions standards, if a student does not meet the school’s qualifying GPA and test scores, their applications will quickly be sorted out.

If your application makes it past the first round of considerations, your application may be passed on to another reader or be reviewed by a committee. At this stage in the admissions process, your college essays, list of activities, and letters of recommendation will become the focus. 

Each college is different, so you probably won’t know for sure who reviewed your application specifically. Rest assured; however, admissions readers, admissions officers, and admissions committees are all professionals who take each application seriously. 

There are many factors that admissions officers look for in an applicant. Still, generally, they are looking for academically capable, passionate students who are intent on making a difference and being involved in their communities. This is why preparing thoughtful, personal statements and supplemental essays is essential. College letters of recommendation are another valued aspect of your college application because they convey how others perceive you and what you’re like in the classroom.

Key takeaways and moving forward

How colleges decide who gets in depends on several factors, including extracurricular activities, high school GPA, standardized test scores, volunteer hours, college essays, and letters of recommendation. Colleges look carefully at every aspect of your application. So if you’re wondering, do colleges read letters of recommendation? The answer is yes. Likewise, they also review each of your college essays, in addition to all of the other sections of your application. That said, approach each aspect of your college applications with care. If you need help staying organized during the college application process or developing an application strategy, you may want to consider hiring a college counselor. Here at Prepory, we have the resources and expertise to help you achieve all of your college-related goals. So if you have questions about how colleges decide who to accept or how colleges read applications, reach out to learn more about our services.