First-Year Application Review
We know that a lot of time, effort, and energy goes into preparing your Barnard application. But what happens after you press the submit button? Here’s some insight into our review process that I hope will help you to feel like you have all of the information you need to submit your best possible Barnard application.
Like many other highly-selective colleges and universities, Barnard College practices a holistic admissions review as we carefully craft the incoming class of students who will join the Barnard community. I tend to liken Barnard’s review process to making a jigsaw puzzle -- there are lots of pieces to your application, but one piece is not more important than another; it’s all about how the pieces fit together and the whole picture that they convey to your application readers. We review all parts of the application -- your Common Application, your Barnard writing supplement responses, your transcript, your letters of recommendation, and your standardized test scores -- together. There isn’t one part that we look to first or that has greater weight in our decision-making. When you’re making a jigsaw puzzle, there is not one piece that is more important than the others. If pieces are missing from the puzzle, then the picture that the puzzle is trying to convey does not come together.
So, why do we need all of the puzzle pieces to be there? They help create context. In our process, a student’s individual context is very important. We receive applications from thousands of schools all over the world, all of which offer different kinds of curricular offerings, programs, activities, etc. Students from all over the United States and all over the world have had different life experiences that have shaped their perspectives. All of these factors shape our review, as we think about what opportunities you have had access to within your context and to what extent you have taken advantage of these opportunities and how they have shaped your perspective. By reading your application, we hope to gain a sense of your perspective - what you’re thinking about and how you’re thinking about it - because it helps us to understand what perspectives and experiences would contribute to the Barnard community. As admissions officers, we are tasked with building a Barnard community comprised of diverse thinkers and learners from all across the United States and all over the world, so understanding your perspective is very important to us.
At Barnard, applications are first read by a student’s regional representative -- the admissions officer assigned to the region in which your school is located. Your regional representative will read and evaluate all parts of your application. They will summarize your application. Your application will then be sent to another application reader who will add to the first reader’s summary of your application. This summary and your entire application file are then shared with the admissions committee. The entire committee will review your application and weigh in before a decision is made.
Now that you know what happens to your application, what can you do to put your best foot forward?
Be honest and be yourself: We genuinely want to know who you are, what excites you intellectually, and what is important to you personally and academically. Quantity does not equal quality in this process. Tell us about extracurricular activities that have really mattered to you and shaped your perspective. That said, extracurricular activities do not have to be school-related; if you care for siblings or have a part-time job, please tell us about that. Choose recommenders who know you well and can speak to your growth. While we recommend that you have someone who knows you read over your essays, your essays should be your own work and represent your authentic voice.
Spend time on your supplementary responses: Barnard has two supplementary writing questions. Both ask you to respond in 100-250 words. We know that that’s not a lot of space and that most of you can write that amount in minutes, but we do not recommend that! Do your research and take your time. The first supplementary response (Question A) should focus on telling us why you want to attend Barnard. While it can seem like it’s a question about Barnard, it’s really asking about you and why this community, this college, this location, etc. are what you’re looking for in your college experience. As your application reader, I know a lot about Barnard; what I don’t know is why this is the right place for you. There is no right answer for the second supplementary response (Question B), so choose whomever you think would indulge you in having a conversation that excites you on an intellectual level.
Check your email: In addition to being an important habit to develop for college and your professional life, we will be sending you updates regarding your application, including a confirmation email letting you know how to check your applicant portal. This is how you will know if we have received your application and your application materials. We will also let you know when your admissions decision will be available via email.
Be kind: We realize that this process can be a stressful one, so we hope that you will be kind to yourself and others. Thank your families, counselors, and teachers for the work that they do to support you. Be supportive of your friends and classmates also going through this process and extend that same kindness to yourself. Take the time to be excited about what the next chapter in your life may be!