Swamped by a rise in early applications from the biggest class of high-school seniors ever, college admissions officials have some advice for the class of 2009: Be yourself.
Although this year’s applicant pool is by many measures the most highly qualified yet, admissions deans at a dozen top-tier colleges and universities said in interviews last week that they’re also seeing a disappointing trend: Too many students are submitting “professionalized” applications rendered all too slick by misguided attempts at perfection, parental meddling and what one admissions dean describes as the robotlike approach teens are taking in presenting themselves.
Among the symptoms: Too many formulaic, passionless personal essays. Too many voluminous résumés devoid of true commitment. And too many pointless emails and calls from overanxious students and parents — a trend one dean labels “admissions stalking.”
“We keep looking for authenticity and genuineness, for kids who are their true selves,” says Jennifer Delahunty, dean of admissions at Ohio’s Kenyon College. Instead, anxious students, and the adults who help them overpolish their applications, “leach all the personality out” of them, she says.