I've been receiving emails from the Harvard Interviewing Committee telling me that they are changing the system.
Fewer interviews will be given this year, which means less pressure on interviewers, who in previous years were stretched pretty thin. That's a good thing, in general.
That's also a good thing for you, because it means if you get an interview, you're really special and your interviewer will be 100% focused on getting to know *you*, not blurring you together with the kid who plays cello or the girl who rescues abandoned kittens.
So, it's another year. Last year, applications were at a record high. Out of the students I interviewed, one girl truly stood out for me. I wrote her a very strong letter... and was frankly surprised to learn that she did not get accepted.
That can be frustrating, as an interviewer. You wonder if you could have written a stronger recommendation... if you were too stingy with the marks.
When I was applying ten years ago, the process was stressful and competitive. There were tears, mini nervous breakdowns, trips to Coldstones to make me feel better. I can't imagine it's gotten any better, given that numbers of applicants keep climbing.
As you start the process, whether you're a senior getting your acceptances, or a junior looking forward, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. This is not a life or death event. It doesn't decide your future.
2. There are still many many wonderful opportunities ahead of you.
3. YOU determine how successful you are, not what college you go to.
4. Read biographies of famous people you admire - some of them went to Ivy League schools. But a great many didn't, and didn't consider themselves handicapped because of it.
That said, you owe it to yourself to give it your best shot. Be prepared. Ask me questions - I'll make an effort to answer them as they come up. Treat this seriously, and think about your interview prep not as time that ends up being "wasted" if you don't get in to your top college, but as an investment. During the course of your life, you will have a great many interviews, and the sooner you learn to present yourself in the best possible light, the better for you.