I have interviewed sixty students during the last 4 years for Brown University. Of the students I interviewed, only three have been accepted.
The students shared numerous common factors. All were in the top five rank of their class academically, and scored in the top 1% nationally on the various SAT and PSAT exams. In school they had taken AP courses, and done extra academic work outside of school either in local colleges or at schools such as Kumon. The students were very active in student government, clubs, and many other extracurricular activities. Most students could speak at least three languages fluently, and held a leadership position in one major sporting activity.
The students whom I recommended had some distinct differences compared with the rest of the group. These applicants participated in a wider range of activities than the other prospects. Some were the leaders of church activities, or community organizations, or had unique part-time jobs, or had traveled globally, or had won some special awards in areas outside of school. They were subject tutors to other classmates, or completed special projects with one particular teacher outside of the regular classroom.
Brown accepts students who have particularly high level achievement in diverse areas outside of the academic disciplines. I have listed some of these areas in the previous paragraph. In addition, the successful applicants also had one very special talent or extraordinary experience. Some examples: one student I recommended had organized a national human rights meeting in Washington DC that was attended by over one million people. The student gave a speech at the meeting. Another student founded and edited an internet newspaper in Philadelphia that was read by five hundred thousand people each week. The third student that Brown accepted from my applicant pool during the last 4 years had worked in France for a member of the French Parliament as an intern one summer.
Based on my experience, if your child will apply to a selective school such as Brown, any other Ivy, Stanford, MIT, etc., you must build your child’s resume over many years. Try to help your child achieve leadership positions in activities. Help your child find a unique skill or talent that will be recognized on a state or national level. Remember that EVERY APPLICANT has very high marks in school, and has done well on the SAT and PSAT. That is not unique. Selective schools want to find students who represent a wide range of interests and achievements, and the admission committees will search for kids who are creative, energetic, passionate about diverse subjects, and are independent. One last tip – keep in mind that college applications are ????ted at the beginning of a child’s senior year in high school. That means that most of the information contained on one’s college admissions application is generated from activities completed in grades 8, 9, 10 and 11. A parent should keep track of key events in a child’s progress starting in 7th grade. Good luck, and remember that a motivated student could be successful at any number of colleges. It is very difficult to gain acceptance to the selective schools.