Sara Harberson, America’s College Counselor, is a nationally recognized authority on college admissions with formidable credentials: former Associate Dean of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, Dean of Admissions at Franklin & Marshall College, and Director of College Counseling at the Baldwin School. Sara is one of the only private college counselors who has led both an admissions office at a highly selective college and a college counseling office at an elite high school. She shares her expertise with a wider audience as the founder and CEO of ADMISSIONSREVOLUTION.COM, a free website available to all, SARAHARBERSON.COM, for personalized college counseling and free resources, and APPLICATION NATION, a private subscription-based Facebook group. She lives in Lancaster, PA.
Sara has appeared as a college admissions expert on HBO’s Vice News, CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, TODAY, and CNBC. She was most recently interviewed as an expert on the effects of COVID-19 on college admissions by POLITICO, Higher Ed Dive, Good Day Philadelphia, and KYW, among others. Her op-eds have also appeared in USA Today, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and various other national publications.
A snapshot of the current college enrollment environment. What are kids facing?
How do you help kids (and their parents) not get overwhelmed by the process?
The concept of the Soundbite
What is different now than what I (graduating from college in the mid 90’s) was used to?
Increased exclusivity, social media, kids more mature now than before, broader experiences?
What are Admissions Officers looking for?
Surprise! Officers probably only look at an application for 4-6 minutes- there are just too many applications to get through.
Diversity is important – and at many levels- racial, geographic, socio-economic, first generation, rural among others.
Academic programs- Admissions directors have to meet targets and needs of individual programs
Sports, extracurricular activities – the well-rounded individual?
Admissions committees want what they don’t have or what they don’t have a lot of
Show me the evidence that backs up a candidate’s “major” preference
What role do finances play in the college’s decision-making process?
Colleges are expensive right away just in terms of research and visiting schools!
How do they handle scholarships?
Need Aware- will factor in ability to pay.
Need blind – don’t care about pay
Has anything changed since Operation Varsity Blues?
Rick Singer – he had the game figured out and identified the holes in the admissions process
Sports were the key to get in non-standard applicants
What about Standardized Testing?
The trend: getting away from standardized tests-
Back door way to get increase in diverse numbers in applicants