The secrets of college admissions

View Robert K. Cooke, MEd's video on The secrets of college admissions...
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The secrets of college admissions

Parents sometimes ask me what the dirty little secrets of college admissions are. And I think the biggest secret is it's actually a very rational process, from the college's perspective. Colleges have a mission. And they try to admit students that will help them in their mission. Colleges also have very specific needs for what they see in their student body. They may need a new tuba player this year. Or another poet. Or a point guard. And they're looking for kids who can fulfill those aspects in their freshman class. The problem for us as outsiders is that we don't necessarily know how they decide which kids fit their mission or whether they need a tuba player or not. And so as we look at their admissions results, we can't figure it out. It looks opaque to us. It looks nonsensical at times. But it's entirely rational. And really internally transparent to admissions offices. They know what they're doing. They use pretty set criteria. And they hit that criteria every year. The other tricky thing is that that criteria may change from year to year. So a student who got in last year maybe wouldn't be admitted this year because they don't happen to be what the college is looking for this year in particular. But the dirty little secret is it is rational. And it does make sense from the college's perspective.

View Robert K. Cooke, MEd's video on The secrets of college admissions...


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Robert K. Cooke, MEd

Upper School Director

Robert has been in K-12 education for thirty years; for sixteen years he was a high school history and social studies teacher, teaching subjects such as AP US History, Western Civilization, World History, Economics, and Anthropology. His school administrative career has been equally varied, serving as Director of Activities at a large public high school, and a Middle School Director and Upper School Director at independent (private) schools in the Midwest and California. Robert earned his Bachelor's Degree in History from Carleton College, and his Master's in Education from Claremont Graduate University. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Robert has served on school accreditation teams in the Midwest and California. He has two children, one of whom is an acting and English Literature double major at a large urban university on the East Coast, while the other is a high school junior in Los Angeles.


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