Understanding the Role of the Admission Committee

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng


Understanding the Role of the Admission Committee

The admission committee of a college is a team of people accountable for assessing and determining the acceptance of applications submitted by potential students. By potential students.by potential students.

The committee responsible for college admissions consists of admissions officers, academic staff, and, at times, alumni and students. Their role is of utmost importance in deciding an applicant’s educational path. As the guardians of the college admission process, the committee holds immense power and sway over a student’s academic future.

In this blog, we will explore the roles and responsibilities of the committee, what they look for in applicants, and how to make a lasting impression on them.

Two students looking excited while staring at their computer

The Role of the Admissions Committee

What is the role of an admissions committee? The college admissions committee reviews and selects prospective higher-education institution students. They are the decision-making entity in this process.

This committee is entrusted with the crucial task of shaping the institution’s future academic and cultural dynamics.

Core Responsibilities

The primary role of an admissions committee is to evaluate and select from a diverse array of applicants, each presenting their unique qualifications, experiences, and ambitions.

The committee strives to admit a balanced, talented, and diverse student body that not only fulfills the institution’s academic standards but also aligns with its culture and values.

The evaluation process is holistic, and the committee reviews each application meticulously. They consider academic qualifications such as grade point average (GPA) and standardized test scores, but they also weigh the applicant’s involvement in extracurricular activities, community service, and leadership roles.

Personal essays and letters of recommendation also provide insights into the applicant’s personality, aspirations, and potential to contribute positively to the campus community.

In addition, the committee evaluates how well an applicant aligns with the institution’s mission and values. This assessment allows the committee to gauge the prospective student’s potential fit within the university community and their likelihood of contributing positively to the university’s academic and social life.

In-Depth Review Process

The admissions committee thoroughly examines every application, starting with the academic qualifications. They take into account the applicant’s grades and the level of difficulty in their coursework to evaluate their academic ability and intellectual curiosity.

Next, they evaluate the applicant’s involvement outside the classroom. Here, the committee looks at extracurricular activities, community service, and other experiences that demonstrate leadership, commitment, and character.

Personal essays and letters of recommendation play a crucial role as they allow the committee to get to know the applicant beyond the numbers. Through these, the committee learns about the applicant’s personal story, values, and goals, which aids them in assessing the applicant’s fit with the institution.

In conclusion, the college admissions committee plays an integral role in shaping the composition of the incoming class at a higher education institution. It is a task that requires careful consideration, deliberation, and insight into each applicant’s potential to succeed and contribute to the institution.

The ultimate aim is to assemble a dynamic, diverse, and capable student body that will enhance the academic and cultural milieu of the university.

Who Sits on the Admissions Committee?

Who are the people who make up the admissions committee? After submitting your college applications, who reviews them? The admissions committee, composed of qualified individuals responsible for determining which students are accepted into the university, conducts the review.

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The following are some of them:

Admissions Staffers

Most of the admissions staff on the committee is composed of officers whose primary responsibilities include informing potential students about the school and application process and evaluating applications based on that information.

Some educational institutions make it a point to fill the admission committee with graduates from the institution’s most recent class because these individuals have first-hand knowledge of the factors that contribute to student achievement on campus and the characteristics of those who are a good fit with the institution.

Higher-level professionals are likely to manage and supervise the admissions officers. Some examples of these higher-level people include directors, deans, and other individuals with administrative titles.

These supervisors have a strong understanding of the application and admissions process for their respective colleges.

They are also knowledgeable about other schools and how they compare, and their jobs are expressly to facilitate choosing a matriculating class. As a result, they are able to maintain a constant focus on candidates and the overall picture that corresponds to them.

Ultimately, they are attempting to meet the institution’s requirements and ensure that the new student body is a good match. They might also be interested in developing or building new departments, so they might look for applicants with attributes that will strengthen those departments.


The term “faculty” refers to individuals with teaching responsibilities, such as professors or instructors, who also have a broader interest in influencing the composition of the student population and the environment of the college.

Because they are the ones who will eventually be instructing you and working with you, they are in the best position to provide insight into the characteristics that teachers look for in the students they educate.

Since deans and other high-level administrative officers typically begin their careers in education as faculty members, it is only natural for them to participate in the admissions process, which involves choosing who will make up the new class at an earlier stage.

The processes used to choose faculty members to serve on the admission committee differ from one college to the next. Among the many possible selection methods are the votes cast by students, the votes cast by other faculty members, and admissions officers’ appointments.


Some educational institutions have student representatives serving on admissions committees to incorporate unique points of view that can only come from students.

They may better understand whether or not you are a good fit on that campus, how you compare to the student body already there, and what distinctive features you would offer to students’ typical experience on campus.

The procedures that are used to select these student representatives can vary, but in general, they will be students who have an especially good academic standing, who are well-respected by faculty, administrators, and other students, and who are actively involved with the life of the college, such as serving on the student council or government, participating in clubs, or participating in other aspects of student life.

Criteria that are considered by the Admissions Committee

Understanding the criteria that admissions committees look for in applicants is paramount to a successful application. Let’s delve into the key aspects that most committees evaluate:

Academic Achievements

A student’s academic performance is usually one of the foremost criteria. This includes GPA, course rigor, class rank, and other scholastic achievements. Some universities might focus more on a strong performance in the subjects related to the student’s intended major.

a female high school student looking happy

Extracurricular Activities

Involvement in extra-curricular activities showcases a student’s interests, leadership, commitment, and teamwork skills. Whether it’s sports, arts, volunteer work, or clubs, active participation can highlight a well-rounded character.

Personal Statements and Essays

Personal statements provide a window into the student’s personality, goals, values, and writing skills. Tailoring the essay to demonstrate how the student aligns with the university’s culture and values can create a strong impression.

Letters of Recommendation

Recommendation letters from teachers, coaches, or other mentors can provide insights into a student’s character, work ethic, and potential. A well-chosen recommender who can speak to specific strengths and growth areas can greatly enhance an application.

Standardized Test Scores

Many institutions still consider SAT or ACT scores despite some shifts away from this in recent years. Preparation and strategic selection of test dates can help students perform their best.


Though not always required, interviews offer a chance for the admissions committee to get to know applicants on a more personal level. They seek maturity, communication skills, and genuine interest in their institution.

Special Talents or Skills

Unique skills, talents, or experiences that align with the institution’s offerings or needs can also make an applicant stand out. For example, a special artistic talent might be highly valued at a school known for its art program.

Diversity and Background

Some institutions actively seek a diverse student body, considering factors like cultural background, geographic location, socioeconomic status, etc. Emphasizing what makes your perspective unique can be advantageous.

Alignment with Institutional Values

Understanding and demonstrating how your goals and values align with the institution can make a difference. Whether it’s a commitment to research, community service, or innovation, showing how you fit with the school’s mission can strengthen your application.

Different colleges and universities may place varying levels of importance on these factors. Research-intensive universities might prioritize academic achievements and research experience, while liberal arts colleges may focus more on well-roundedness and character.

Tailoring the application to reflect the specific values and expectations of the targeted college or university can significantly increase the chances of acceptance. By aligning your application with what the admissions committee values, you communicate that you are not only qualified but also a good fit for their institution.

Understanding the criteria used by admissions committees and how different institutions prioritize them is essential for crafting an effective application.

Engaging in meaningful extra-curricular activities, showcasing unique talents, excelling academically, and carefully aligning your application with the values of the institution can make you stand out in the competitive admissions process. By taking a strategic and personalized approach, students can greatly enhance their prospects for acceptance.

Young female student talking to an interviewer in an office.

How To Make Your Applications Stand Out

The college admissions landscape is becoming increasingly competitive, and students face the daunting task of making their applications stand out from the crowd. To rise above the rest, showcasing academic excellence, individuality, creativity, and alignment with the university’s values is essential.

Here’s a closer look at how students can achieve this.

Crafting a Compelling Personal Statement

A personal statement is a chance to tell your unique story. It’s an opportunity to go beyond grades and test scores and reveal the person behind the numbers. Here’s how to make it compelling:

  • Be Genuine: Authenticity resonates with admissions officers. Share your true experiences, feelings, and thoughts.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: Use descriptive language and specific examples to illustrate your points rather than just stating them.
  • Reflect on Your Journey: Discuss challenges you’ve faced, how you’ve overcome them, and what you’ve learned along the way.
  • Connect with the College’s Mission: If possible, tie your story to the university’s values or mission to demonstrate a strong fit.

Selecting Appropriate Recommenders

Letters of recommendation provide an outside perspective on your abilities and character. Here’s how to get recommendations that bolster your application:

  • Choose Wisely: Select teachers, mentors, or supervisors who know you well and can speak to your strengths and potential.
  • Provide Context: Share your goals and why you’re applying to specific colleges so recommenders can tailor their letters.
  • Ask Early: Give recommenders plenty of time to write thoughtful letters.

Showcasing Relevant Experiences

Your experiences outside the classroom can set you apart. Here’s how to present them effectively:

  • Highlight Leadership and Impact: Focus on roles or projects where you made a significant impact or demonstrated leadership.
  • Connect to Your Goals: Explain how these experiences relate to your academic and career goals, showing a clear trajectory.
  • Include a Range of Activities: Balance academics with extracurriculars, volunteering, work experience, or other unique pursuits that reflect a well-rounded individual.

Timing Your Application

Believe it or not, when you apply, it can make a difference:

  • Consider Early Application: Early decision or early action might demonstrate a strong interest in a particular college.
  • Meet All Deadlines: This seems basic, but missing a deadline can be costly.
  • Take Your Time: Don’t rush your application. Start early and give yourself time to reflect, revise, and polish.

Standing out in the college admissions process requires strategic thinking, self-reflection, and understanding of what each university seeks in its student body. Students can create a strong, unique, and memorable application by presenting a compelling personal statement, choosing the right recommenders, showcasing relevant experiences, and timing the application well.

Remember, the goal is not just to impress the admissions committee but to present an authentic and coherent picture of who you are and what you can bring to the campus community.

How Has the Role of Admissions Committees Evolved Over Time?

The Age of Academia and Standardization

In the earlier years of higher education, college admissions were largely a straightforward process. A student’s academic prowess, represented by grades and later by standardized test scores, was the primary yardstick by which their worthiness was measured.

Entrance exams, often rigorous and demanding, acted as gatekeepers, ensuring only the academically adept gained entry.

Two students talking to each other in a table.

The Rise of the Holistic Review

However, as the world changed and the understanding of what makes a student ‘valuable’ to a campus community evolved, so too did the admissions process. The latter half of the 20th century saw the birth and gradual rise of the holistic admissions review.

This approach went beyond mere academics to paint a fuller picture of the applicant. Personal essays, recommendation letters, and lists of extracurriculars became crucial components of college applications, allowing students to showcase their personalities, experiences, and values.

Diversity and Inclusion – Beyond Buzzwords

As we entered the 21st century, society changed its values significantly. People began to acknowledge the importance of having a diverse student body in educational institutions. Colleges started actively searching for students from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, recognizing that it would enrich the overall learning experience.

This was not just limited to ethnic or racial diversity but also encompassed diversity in thought, socioeconomic status, and life experiences. As a result, admissions committees started to value personal narratives and experiences that could bring a unique perspective to their campuses.

Modern Admissions – A Balancing Act

In response, admissions committees placed more importance on personal stories and experiences that could contribute to a candidate’s application.

They must consider academic achievements, the student’s character and potential, the institution’s needs and goals, and the broader aim of creating a diverse and dynamic student community.

Technology, too, has played its part. With the rise of digital portfolios, video essays, and online interviews, the modern admissions process is more dynamic and multi-faceted than ever.

The Future

While it’s hard to predict precisely how the role of admissions committees will change in the coming years, it’s evident that they will continue to adapt to societal shifts and the changing needs of educational institutions. One thing is certain: the process will remain as intricate and nuanced as the students they evaluate.

How Do Admissions Committees Make Decisions?

How do selection committees come to their decisions? During the process of the committee reviewing your application, the officer who has been assigned to you will verbally relay your application to the rest of the group, making sure to highlight any aspects of your application that stood out in particular, such as your personality traits, accomplishments, interests, and so on.

Your college application is given to an admissions officer who devotes a significant amount of time to examining and evaluating it the same way you spent a significant amount of time compiling and submitting it.

Although more than one person may read your college application, it is standard practice for the admission committee not to refrain from reading applications word for word while evaluating them.

Instead, the admissions officer assigned to you will discuss highlights, including an analysis of your academic trends and the difficulty level in the courses you’ve taken, and share your essays and letters of recommendation.

Your application may be given certain scores while this process is being carried out. These scores are specific to the college, and their purpose serves as a point of reference that may be discussed among the other admissions committee members.

For instance, a representative from the admissions office might mention that a candidate “earned a five on their academic scale and a four on their testing scale.”

The goal of developing a diverse and lively incoming student body is something that admissions officers care deeply about. The discussion that takes place during the committee review is really in-depth and thoughtful, and it features a lot of questions.

The college admissions committee plays a vital role in the admissions process and is responsible for making important decisions that will shape a student’s future.

Understanding who they are, what they look for in applicants, and how to make a lasting impression on them can greatly increase a student’s chances of being admitted to their dream college. As the competition for college admissions continues to increase, it’s more important than ever to be informed and prepared.

Here at AdmissionSight, we can give you a clear path to secure admission to your dream college. Don’t miss this opportunity to take the first step toward your bright future. Book your initial consultation today!

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