This is another in a series of posts about some memorable applicants, their essays, and how we found them together.
Two years ago I worked with Nicole on her Common Application and individual school supplement essays. Nicole had applied to some terrific schools – Smith, Wellesley, Williams, and a few others. Her first choice was Smith College, a school she loved and knew a great deal about. I remember when we worked on their supplement she was so excited to discuss their curriculum, the professors, the extra curricular aspects, and the campus life, all of which checked every box for her. In early December I received from Nicole the kind of email I love to receive from applicants – “I got in! I got in!” Aside from Nicole and her family, no one was happier for her than I was.
The following December I received a phone call from Nicole. “How is Smith?” I asked expecting to hear that she was doing well and loving it. “I’m not happy here,” she said with more than a hint of sadness. Nicole listed the reasons why Smith wasn’t working for her. It wasn’t just the lifestyle of the school, her fellow students, or the activities outside of the classroom – there was something academically which made her want to transfer. Nicole had decided immediately upon arriving that she wanted to study law. She hoped to find classes which would help better prepare her for law school – classes which Smith just didn’t have. “Help me with my transfer essays?”
The list of schools Nicole wanted to apply to was impressive – Cornell, Georgetown, Columbia, and Penn. But before we could tackle the supplements, we had to get that all-important transfer essay out of the way. We spent a long time articulating why Smith didn’t work for her. What we needed to do was make sure her tone was right. The last thing you want to do is badmouth the school you’re leaving. Smith is an excellent college with much to offer the students who study there. But Nicole’s needs changed and Smith was no longer a good fit. It was an excellent thing that her reason for transferring was for academic reasons. Not that wanting to transfer because she didn’t like the campus, or the other students weren’t valid reasons. But wanting to transfer for academic reasons is an impressive one and says a lot to admissions officers.
Nicole crafted what I felt was one of the best transfer essays I had ever worked with an applicant on. Once we finished that essay we tackled her supplements. Nicole knew the schools very well and that was reflected in the final drafts.
Last May I received another email from Nicole very much like the one I received the previous year. Nicole was accepted at every school she applied to. “But I’m going to Cornell.”
I love the transfer essays in some ways even more than the regular Common Application Essay. The transfer applicant is a year older, wiser, and know better who they are and what they want. This makes my job easier, and a lot more fun. Transfer acceptance rates are higher, too.
A week or so back I received an email from Nicole. She loves (!) Cornell and is doing very well there.
I couldn’t be happier, or more proud.