The Rime of the Overworked Admissions Officer
The information you put into the admissions process: it’s pretty slim. Of the nineteen pages currently on the Common Application, you will only fill out the first four. The rest of the pages are for school reports, recommendations, and the like. In total, after you write your short answers and your personal statement, you’ll have distilled your complex life into no more than seven pages. So make every word count. This is not the time to be bombastic but rather to look inside yourself and find—as Coleridge said about poetry—“the best words in their best order.”
Admissions officers will read every application they receive—that much is true. How much time they take to read your application, however, is the million-dollar question. Will they glance at it? Look at it? Consider it? The relative value of attention in those verbs reflects your relative proximity to getting accepted.
It is not unusual for an admissions officer to read 1,600 individual applications in a season. Assuming 1,500 words per application, that is equivalent to reading the King James Bible cover-to-cover three times in just over three months…holy admissions headache!