The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

We've been waitlisted. Like hundreds of other students who have spent the last months perfecting their essays and kissing up to their teachers, we must tell our parents and friends that we struggled over an application -- and lost. At least for the time being. The application consisted of parts of several staffers' original applications to the University. Just to make sure that it wasn't a fluke that we got in the first time, we wanted to see if we could make the cut again. Obviously, admissions officers are probably not as candid when a reporter is present. So, even though we didn't get the whole picture, all was not lost. We got to hear them call our essay about a third grade art project "touching" and "poignant," and listen to praise on our essay on Kafka. · As they were given a copy of the application, all of the admissions officers asked jokingly if they were also going to each receive a copy of the $60 application fee check that usually accompanies each application. Director of Planning Christoph Guttentag, Admissions officers Eric Furda, Patricia Schindler, Pippa Porter-Rex and Dean of Admissions Willis Stetson occasionally joked with each other, but most of the time sat in silence as they read the application. Guttentag laughed aloud while reading the application and expressed skepticism about several things on the application as he made circles and marked up his copy. The candidate, "Stephen Wilson" of Arlington, Virginia, is a non-minority candidate. He received a combined score of 1450 on the SAT and in the high 600s and low 700s on Achievement Tests in Physics, English Composition, American History and Math I. But, Wilson had only a B+ average and took only four of the 11 Advanced Placement courses offered at his competitive high school. He was just barely in the top 10 percent of his class of 820 students. His teachers descibed him in their recommendations as a talented student, but said he can be abrasive, brash and impatient. His guidance counselor, the admissions committee said, seemed not to know him very well. "They are some red flags," warned Porter-Rex. "The guidance counselor doesn't really go to bat for him." While they were impressed with Wilson's test scores, all of the admissions officers seemed skeptical about his application because of his inconsistent grades and hesitant recommendations. They also expressed concern that Wilson had not taken the most rigorous courses available to him. The officers also said Wilson does not match up to some of the other students in his high school class who applied to the University. Furda, who acted as the regional representative, said there were five other applicants from Wilson's class who were all in the top five percent of the class. "If this was the only person who applied, it might be different," Furda said. Porter-Rex worried that accepting such a student would send the wrong message to the community -- that students who don't work as hard but can test well will still be accepted. After reaching a consensus to waitlist Wilson, the officers discussed what factors might have changed their decision. Wilson did not include a mid-year grade report in his application package like most applicants would have by the time it was reviewed. The strength of those grades would have had an impact one way or the other on Wilson. They said Wilson would have had a better chance if he had attended a rural Virginia high school or a school where less AP classes were offered. They also said Wilson would have been in better shape if he had chosen more challenging classes. The admissions officials said they generally give students two ratings, one on academic and the other on nonacademic qualities. They did not rate Wilson on a scale, The ratings are from a low of one to a high of nine. They guessed Wilson would qualify as a high six or a low seven acdemically and a six nonacademically. Stetson said about 40 percent of students with over a six on both ratings are accepted. He said ratings below a four and above a seven are very rare.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.