I remember how nervous I was sending off my college applications; now, in my first year as an admissions counselor, I’ve found out that the application reading process, not to mention the people who do the reading, aren’t nearly as frightening as I once imagined.
I know there’s no way for me to take the stress out of applying to college, but I do want to share what I’ve learned, and I hope it helps!
First off, at St. John’s the transcript really isn’t the most important part of the application for us. And even on your transcript, GPA is only the second most important thing; we look first to see what courses you’ve taken. While we’re certainly happy to see a strong GPA we’re even happier to see that you’ve pushed yourself and taken challenging courses, whatever that might look like at your high school. And much more important than anything on your transcript is the essays.
We really do put a lot of time into reading your essays. We consider them the heart of the application, and your best chance to tell us who you are, what you want out of our unique Program, and what you will bring to us. That doesn’t mean we’re going through with a red pen; in fact, I barely notice typos and stray errors at all, much less bother to make a note of them. It’s more about getting the overall feel and trying to understand what you’re telling us. Essays are easily my favorite part of the application; I get to go through and highlight some of the best things you’ve said in them, and the strongest parts of your application overall, for the next readers. They’ll read your entire application for themselves, but I underline the things that particularly help you shine, to draw attention to them. I don’t worry, though, because the next three readers come from the most thorough and contentious, and also some of the most kind, people on campus—our faculty.
The whole reading process is very faculty-centric. Three of the five people who read your application will be members of the faculty, and if you’ve had the chance to visit and chat with any of our tutors, as we call them, this should make you happy. They’re people who love what they do, and love their students—and that’s what you are, a student in potentiality. Being faculty, the thing they care about most is—you guessed it—the essays! In the St. John’s Program, there is very little focus on letter or number grades. We prefer comprehensive and holistic evaluations, and that has a big effect on the way your applications are read; our faculty don’t think that a simple number or letter can define their students, or you.
I hope this has you feeling a little less stressed about your applications—we’re really on your side. We want you to look good. And we really really care about your essays. Last of all, remember to feel free to contact us with questions at any time! Before you submit your application, while you’re submitting your application, after you submit your application, we’re always happy to hear from you!