Final Four

No matter what you keep hearing, there is no secret formula for getting into college. You don’t have to hire a private jet to personally deliver your application or spend hours joining every school club or organization just to make yourself look better to college admissions counselors. So, if you want to find the RIGHT college for you, please take my advice. I’ve reviewed thousands of college and scholarship applications. I know how the admissions process works inside and out, and I’ve decided to share that information.

Why would I just give out advice? What’s in it for me? Well for one thing, none of this information is all that big of a secret – pretty much any experienced admission officer or guidance counselor will tell you the same thing. Plus, and here’s the real bonus, in exchange for giving you helpful information, I get to put Brandeis University’s name in front of you and brag about us. (Of course, if you already know you want more information about Brandeis, you can go to our web site http://Brandeis.edu —see, I started already).

At Brandeis, we receive tens of thousands of applications each year, so I can’t work with everyone individually. Instead, I’ll post some new information as often as I can with advice on picking and getting into the right school for you. It’s a good deal for you since, even if for some strange reason Mason isn’t the school of your dreams, at least I might help you make some good choices about college.

If you don’t want my advice, just stop clicking whatever link got you to this page. If you do, check back in when you get a chance, and feel free to post some comments or questions – just don’t expect me to get back to everyone individually! Either way, I wish you all the best in all your educational endeavors. Be seeing you.

Andrew Flagel
Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment
Brandeis University

PS – If you’re looking for updated information, check out my new site, http://admitoneblog.org/


22 Responses

  1. Dear Dean Flagel….

    What a great blog! Was that you I was trying to impersonate today at Dean’s and Director’s meeting?


    Jim Olds

  2. Dear Dean Flagel,

    My name is Elizabeth Kudner and I am helping to start a company called myUsearch, an unbiased online resource dedicated to objectively matching students to schools and providing fair and accurate college enrollment information. We will be launching our site in February 2008. To enhance our service, we will be featuring a blog that allows students and higher ed professionals to report on their college experience and help new students make informed choices about choosing a college and degree program, paying for college and engaging in campus activities.

    We’d like you to be a guest writer on our blog. Are you interested? My email is ekudner@myusearch.com. Thanks-Elizabeth

  3. I’ll be glad to – or you could always just use this blog!

  4. I’m glad I bumped into your blog. My son, a junior in high school, just received his SAT scores. He did well in Math/Reading – in the 600s (85th percentile) for both – but tanked the essay and received a 475(41st percentile) for the writing portion of the test. He’s dysgraphic (has a 504 letter but he and teachers don’t use any of the accommodations, he’s honor roll with accelerated classes, and will be an Eagle Scout shortly ). He took the test without accommodations – won’t get into it here, but the effort to get accommodations didn’t seem worth it at the time, and the high school wasn’t all that helpful…

    I wasn’t able to find your comments and opinions about the writing portion. I understand that Mason doesn’t use them, and many other colleges use them for “advising” purposes. But now we’re worried. Should he retake the test?
    Can you refer me to your posts about this part of the exam?
    Many thanks,
    C. Bumiller

  5. great question – I’ll add a new post on the topic

  6. Since you take numbers so seriously in the decision process, How do you allow for differences in the way school systems assign numeric values to GPA? For example, is a kid from FCPS who does not test well (SAT) out of luck because their grade point system is tougher than other systems? Keep in mind there are reasons such as social/cultural/financial that may make GMU attractive to locals. I doubt it would be many of their first choices…..still considered a disappointed to those in the know. Are they at risk for being disappointed more than once.

  7. As I listed in my recent post, we don’t take “numbers” so seriously as we do take your whole acaedmic record into account, and a big part of that is understanding the context of the school system. SAT is much less important, and of course Mason offers the largest score optional admission program in the U.S.

    As for locals, I can’t tell you who is dissapointed or why, but I can tell you that, like most colleges, we survey our incoming students each year, and nearly all of our entering students rate Mason as their first choice. The way I see it, the caliber of student we recruit and admit have options, and they are opting for us. The number one reason they give is the global diversity of the student body, number two is the connections we offer through the Washington, D.C. area, and tied for number three and four is the quality/real world experience of the faculty and the connection of the academic programs to careers. I’d think that if finance is the major issue for a student and aid at various institutions doesn’t solve that, then the student is likely heading to a community college, not to Mason. I’m sure many students do pick us for the range of social and cultural issues, but those haven’t been in the top reasons that students give, at least not the ones we admitted.

  8. do you respond to posts left on old blogs? There are some really informative(I know the word has been used often, but it’s quite applicable) ones that haven’t been discussed recently, and it would be helpful if new questions could be answered to thoses old posts. Thanks!

  9. I do respond to comments on old posts, but at times I’ll respond with a new post instead of directly on the thread…hopefully Emily catches and updates a link to the new post when I fail to do so!

  10. Hi Dean Flagel,
    Just wanted to share a new cool admissions forum that was released yesterday.


    Let me know if you might be able to share it with your readers – there’s some cool stuff like an admissions visits section as well as admissions profiles.


  11. Hello Dean Flagel,
    Firstly, I am very glad I found your blog, and I am very thankful for your contributions that are in this blog.
    I was very eager to ask you, whether I should write my college essay about my Freelancing experience both online and offline. I have experienced being a freelancer for about 4-5 years. And in this period, I have learnt and a lot. I have been a web designer, graphic designer, and lots more which are related to designing.
    I fairly got about 3.16 GPA
    So will this college essay work??
    Please do email me in the above email address. I look forward, talking with you..
    Thank you

  12. I love this whole website. I’m glad that I got the e-mail from you informing me about this site! I was just wondering if it make any good or bad difference that I am graduating a year early? I’m combining my junior and senior year into one, which is hard work but I’m doing well with it. I have a full eight class schedule, but I’m just worried because you said that the junior year was the most important for college admissions. Will college admissions look at this year as my most important for the admission decision? Would it change anything? Thanks for reading!

    -Ashley R.

  13. Wow… this website is surprising useful for one that i found swimming in the cesspool of my spam box.

    I especially enjoyed the little happy face in the gray margin (right side). Being on a mac, i have the magnificent ability to pick up the little guy with my mouse and dance with it all over the page. It’s exhilarating.

    So, in conclusion, I am shocked to announce that George Mason will make it onto my college application list.

    Congratulations, you earned it, kid.

  14. Hi, came across your site and thought it would be great for one of our clients, if interested in an advertising venture please feel free to contact me.

  15. Hi,
    My 21-year-old son is a math/science whiz and was a classic gifted underachiever. He left high school at age 16, earned low grades in community college UNTIL he became inspired after a chemistry prof recommended him for a paid internship in a chem lab at MIT. He chose to work seven days a week and was asked back for a second summer at MIT. Since then he has earned straight A’s and now is heading for a paid internship at Penn State. He is applying to universities as a transfer student to complete his B.S. and wants to become a theoretical physicist.

    He was recently rejected by Univ of Fla because of his unfortunate early grades. Can you give some suggestions for presenting himself as the inspired, focused, hard-working student he now is??? His essays and test scores are excellent and he has great references and wonderful recent grades. What else can he do?? He is interested in George Mason, among other universities.

    Thanks! E. Daley

  16. Hi Dean,
    I love reading your blog, and I was wondering if we could work on some content collaborations together. My name is Robin, and I am a blogger for http://www.campuscompare.com. If you could email me at robin@campuscompare.com, I’d love to discuss future content further.


  18. I’m from CollegeClickTV.com, a website also dedicated to providing prospective students with valuable information on colleges. We have thousands of personalized video interviews with real college students.

    Our blog site, ThePrudentStudent.com, also provides additional value to the college admissions process. We are currently looking to expand our Student Picks/Blogroll section and would like to know if you are interested in a linkback exchange.

    Feel free to check out the site and contact me with a response or any questions you may have.

    Dan Sander

  19. Hello Andrew,

    I just wanted to give you the heads up that next Thursday, August 20, Sierra Magazine will be releasing their third annual list of “Cool Schools,” a list of the top 10 greenest 4-year colleges and universities. This is a great back-to-school story, especially considering that a recent survey by Princeton Review showed that two-thirds of university applicants say that a school’s environmental report card would influence whether they’d enroll.

    With “green” becoming a larger and larger influential factor in the college decision making process, universities and colleges across the US are doing their part to curb their environmental footprint. These colleges and universities are taking big steps with innovative programs like free bikes for students, organic gardens on campus, solar panels on buildings, and more; they are enticing students and helping the environment simultaneously.

    The “Cool School’s” list will be released on August 20. Please let us know if this sounds like something you might want to blog about so that we can be sure to send you the link on the 20th.


    Malia Tice

    Malia Tice
    Sierra Club Media Assistant
    85 Second Street, Second Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94105

  20. HI Andrew,

    Just a reminder that today, Thursday, August 20, Sierra Magazine released their third annual list of “Cool Schools,” a list of the greenest 4-year colleges and universities in the US.

    The “Cool School’s” webpage (www.sierraclub.org/coolschools) is now live and ready for you to use. The webpage includes the top 135 greenest schools along with the scores and grades that were assigned to them as well as an interview with Avital Binshtock, the green living editor of Sierra Magazine.



  21. Hi Dean – I just wanted to let you know about a unique network of former college admissions officers from Stanford, Harvard, Brown and other top universities that have come together to offer affordable on-line advising services. Founded this year, iAdmissions uses online technology to provide personalized and affordable guidance on the college admissions process. In addition to hosting a series of free webinars accessible to all, iAdmissions opens doors by offering affordable counseling services to every student, regardless of income level! There is more information at http://www.iadmissions.com – what a great resource!

  22. Hi Andrew,

    I want to let you know about a our new video-driven campaign. We’re trying to position colleges to be at the forefront of the movement to Move Beyond Coal – and as part of that, we launched a new advertising effort to help kick coal off campuses. We’re releasing three videos over the next few weeks, alongside an online and tv media blitz. The first video is here – http://www.2dirty4college.com

    Tagline: Coal – Too Dirty, even for college.  
    The ads play off stereotypically “dirty” college behavior, becoming progressively more “dirty” throughout the series. Though college life allows for leniency in the socially acceptable, coal still crosses the line.  Let me know if you’re interested in seeing the other videos when they are released – they’re even better!
    About the campaign – the Campuses Beyond Coal Campaign is working nationwide to wean all campuses off of coal-generated electricity and replace it with clean energy options. With organizers on the ground in several of the more than 60 campuses with on-site coal plants, the Campaign is working to help universities achieve the zero carbon emissions targets set forth in the Presidents Climate Commitment.
    If you want more information, we released a report last month, Breaking Coal’s Grip on Our Future: Moving Campuses Beyond Coal http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/campus/, which highlights many of the problems facing coal dependent schools and the solutions available.


    Sierra Club Media Assistant
    85 Second Street, Second Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94105

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