How to Stand Out When Applying to Bryn Mawr
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Katarina Karris-Flores, an Admissions Officer at Bryn Mawr College, in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
If Bryn Mawr College is your top choice, you want to do everything possible to make your application shine. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can stand out as an applicant. In this article, you’ll learn how to go the extra mile in your application, from academic performance and essays to school visits.
Not Sending Test Scores
Bryn Mawr is test optional. If you’re unsure whether you should submit your test scores, check online to see the range of scores that the college typically accepts. If your scores are lower, you shouldn’t send them.
The admission officers at Bryn Mawr look at applications holistically, so they’ll consider all different parts of your application. This helps you stand out as a person and as a student. Your test scores don’t need to define you, and it’s perfectly fine not to send them. Testing is still a topic of heated debate, but admissions officers will admit that after reading so many different applications, not sending scores won’t make the ultimate difference.
Trying Essay Tips
For your personal statement, writing about something not mentioned in the rest of your Common App will help you differentiate yourself from other people. Maybe your extracurriculars are all about how you’re in band and choir or something in the arts. You could mention your passion for these activities in your personal statement, but admissions officers can already see this about you.
Try to provide colleges with as much information about yourself as possible—feel free to show off different perspectives or parts of your personality! Look at what you’ve already included in your Common App to avoid repeating yourself.
Also, try to avoid using the personal statement as some sort of therapy exercise. Keep the reader—an admissions officer—in mind as you write. Some essays can be devastating in subject matter, and that’s not something that a person who’s just getting to know you will necessarily want to see. While you can include painful details in your essay, be mindful of the balance; things can quickly get too dark and negative.
A good essay could feature a story about how you overcame a challenge. You might add a few details about how you suffered, but you should focus on what you did to pull yourself out of the tough situation. These uplifting narratives might seem cliché, but they can actually be quite profound and moving.
The “why this college?” essay is popular in college admissions, and Bryn Mawr will also be asking you this question. You want to avoid generic answers here, and you definitely don’t want to leave a stand-in college in this essay. Some students will forget to proofread and send in a final draft with another college’s name. Make sure to always edit your essays!
You should also avoid cursing in your essays. This does not read as thoughtful; it makes the writer seem far too comfortable, and it just isn’t appropriate. Admissions officers enjoy polished and clear writing, and this doesn’t involve swearing.
Taking Challenging Classes
Bryn Mawr loves to see that prospective students are challenging themselves academically. This generally means taking many of the honors or AP classes offered at your school, as this shows that you take your studies seriously and that you value hard work.
If you don’t have many AP classes available at your high school, try to look for other ways to push yourself academically. Consider taking classes at a local community college, for example. You should also try to challenge yourself outside the classroom; you could pursue competitive extracurricular activities or seek leadership opportunities.
Some students have learning differences, and taking all the most rigorous classes just isn’t an option for them. You should try to take honors classes where you can, but if you can’t take too many, there are spots on your application where you can address this.
The additional information section provides you with a chance to explain your learning background. You could (and should!) write if you have an IEP or if your counselor strongly advised you against taking too many challenging courses. The admissions committee will see your explanation and understand. Additionally, ask your guidance counselor to address this in their letter of recommendation. It helps to hear about the issue from multiple sources.
You should also bring up any significant negatives on your academic record. If you failed or nearly failed a class but had a specific reason for it and worked to change things afterward, admissions committees will want to know this information. A single bad performance could be a major red flag, but if you communicate your reasons, colleges will take a second look at your application.
Visiting Bryn Mawr
Bryn Mawr offers many options for visiting. Attending a few of these events will help you learn more about the college, and when it comes time to apply, writing about your experience could help your application stand out.
Themed events in the fall, called Senior Stays, enable interested students to stay at the college overnight. These will help you get a feel for the campus and what life would be like at Bryn Mawr.
It can be hard to travel across the country, though, and airline tickets are expensive. Fortunately, many resources to interact with the college are online now. Virtual events and interviews can help you learn more about Bryn Mawr without coming to campus. Visiting in person won’t make or break your application, but demonstrating a real interest in Bryn Mawr before applying will make you stand out. If you do come to the college, you should definitely write about it, as this will help admissions officers know just how excited you are about the school.