This past weekend, my husband and I attended a wedding of a former student of mine in New York City. We snuck in a few special meals and even a trip to the Met before the wedding on Saturday night.
Along the way, we met so many new friends. One of our Uber drivers, Jorge, was from Colombia. Our server at the very swanky restaurant we ate at was a dancer from Queens. And, the talented makeup artist I used for the wedding was born and raised in Manhattan. I am captivated by individuals' stories. That is why I love helping students tell their stories in their college applications.
Why do I ask these two questions?
And the second reason I ask these two questions is that this frames an admissions officer's entire perspective on who each student is. After looking at your name, they move quickly to your address, city, and state. Check. And then their eyes make their way to your high school. Check, check. Your high school contextualizes your entire application. Since every high school is different, with varying curricula, student demographics, and extracurricular offerings, admissions officers have to adjust their mindset with every new application they read.
Yes, the more unusual state you hail from can absolutely increase your chances of admission. Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Mississippi, and a few other states are pure gold to an admissions officer. It's like the admissions officer hits the jackpot when they read an application from an underrepresented state.
But it's more than that. Even the students who come from overrepresented states have an opportunity to shine a light on their town, neighborhood, or borough.
Now onto that more controversial topic. Years ago if you went to a boarding school or a private day school your chances of admission soared compared to a student attending a public high school. Not anymore. Now, every student has to prove themselves within the high school they come from. No one gets extra points, or docked points for that matter, because of the school they attend. Let me be clear, though, that was not always the case.
Every student has a chance to recognize where they come from and how far they have come. Don't let your address or high school get in the way of your dreams. In fact, they might even be the reason you succeed in the end.