How are College Applications Read?

Question: How are applications read? It seems as if January is devoted to opening and sorting mail. Do admissions officers skim the first paragraph of an essay only? Do they look at every piece of paper? Do supplementary materials enrage them or do they help? Does the order in which applications are discussed affect an individual's chances (i.e., as the class fills are up the last few spaces more competitive?)

You ask good questions, and the short answer to all of them is that the norm at one college may not be the norm at another. For a longer answer, dig up an old copy of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions, and turn to Chapter 7, "How Admission Decisions Are Made." (Last revised in 2002, there may be some specifics that are out of date, but the overall process hasn't changed.)

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