What Do College Admissions Officers Look for in an Applicant?

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To answer this question, let’s first start with an admissions officer survey by National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

I.  NACAC factors:

  • Grades in All Courses
  • Grades in College Prep Courses
  • Admissions Test Scores (SAT, ACT)
  • Rigor/Strength of Curriculum
  • Essay or Writing Sample
  • Counselor Letters of Recommendations
  • Teacher Letters of Recommendations
  • Student’s Demonstrated Interest
  • Class Rank
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Subject Test Scores (AP, IB)
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Work Experience
  • State Graduation Exam Scores

II.  Intangibles

Based on my professional experience, connected with visiting colleges and discussions with directors of admissions, there are other factors which we know are just as important and, in some cases, more important than the NACAC Admissions Survey Factors:

  • College application
  • Personal Statement
  • Supplemental essays
  • Collective interrelationship of all essays
  • WOW Factor
  • Attitude
  • Likability
  • Etiquette
  • Character
  • Grit/Challenge
  • Confidence
  • Charisma
  • Sense of self
  • Sense of others
  • Engagement
  • The unsaid
  • Conversational Intelligence
  • Cadence
  • Transparency
  • Cultural Intelligence
  • Cultural Agility
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Uniqueness
  • Diversity/Inclusion
  • Family background
  • Comparative Student Profile Analysis
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If you think that getting into your top-choice college is just about having a high GPA, top SAT scores, high grades and a manufactured application and personal statement….THINK AGAIN!    

This past year, I received calls and emails from parents whose children were rejected from all colleges to which they applied because they thought the college admissions race was just about grades, SAT scores, their perceived ‘unique’ applications, generic essays and perfect connections. 

Here are some actual cases (based on phone calls from disappointed parents).

1. Case one:  One student applied to 19 schools (including all the Ivies) and was rejected from 18 schools and waitlisted at local state school where the acceptance rate was 65%.

2. Case two: A suburban public high school in the Northeast where no one (not even the valedictorian) was accepted to the Ivies or BS/MD programs.

3. Case three: Valedictorian (SAT 1580, ACT 36, GPA 4.6 weighted, President and cofounder of non-profit, tutored students, volunteered, shadowed multiple physicians, published two research papers, Science Olympiad, President of Debate team, tennis) – rejected from all Ivy League and BS/MD programs.

4 . Case four: A public high school in Texas. Of the fifteen students who applied to BS/MD programs …ALL were rejected.

Ivy League and highly selective colleges and BS/MD programs use a holistic approach when evaluating applicants for admission.  That means admission to these colleges is not based on a simple formula of grades and test scores.  Instead, they consider a variety of factors: the student’s academic record, extracurricular interests, intellectual achievements and personal background to decide who will be rejected or accepted.

We understand the holistic approach and prepare our clients using our strategies for admissions success accordingly!

This year, several of our clients were accepted to multiple Ivies and multiple BS/MD programs!


Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions Advisors

Boarding School Admissions Consultants Acceptance Rate – Unmatched

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95% of our clients were accepted into top boarding schools including Andover, Exeter, Choate, Lawrenceville, Taft, Loomis, Deerfield, St. Paul’s, Hotchkiss, Deerfield, Kent, etc.

You may ask why we are the leading experts in elite boarding school admissions and how we are so successful?  Through a collaborative team approach, Dr. Lowe and his team:

  • Develop and enhance clients’ student profiles so that they stand out among other applicants.
  • Assist clients in brainstorming the right ideas for their essays as well as edit and revise their drafts.
  • Help parents and students with in-depth mock interview preparation sessions. 
  • Direct clients to “best chance” target elite boarding school based on our knowledge of up-to-date admissions policies and contacts. 

Dr. Lowe personally works with each client and provides hundreds of hours of advisory-consultations. Dr. Lowe and his team have superior access to up-to-minute information that provides the competitive advantage for his clients. We, therefore, gain unparalleled insights into boarding school admissions policies that gives our clients that admissions edge! Don’t make the mistake of not retaining expert advice !

We also encourage parents to retain a boarding school admissions consultant that specializes in reapplication for fall 2023 because based on the current trends, the admissions cycle for 2022-2023 will be even more competitive.

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Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group’s  Boarding School Admissions Consultants, an affiliate of Private School Admissions Advisors.  Dr. Lowe specializes in providing exclusive concierge-type admissions advisory services for U.S. and international students who are interested in applying to top U.S. boarding schools.  Dr. Lowe helps U.S. and international students gain admissions into top U.S. boarding schools even after they have been wait-listed and rejected.  Dr. Lowe and his team of admissions advisors also visit prestigious and elite private schools, where they have the unique opportunity of interacting one-on-one with heads of schools, directors of admissions and senior admissions personnel.

Thank You Comments/Testimonials from BS/MD Admissions Advisors Clients

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This year’s admissions season (2021-2022), we had a 97% acceptance rate. What made it so significant is that despite the increase in BS/MD applications (in some schools by 30%), our clients were accepted! How do we do this? Blog: What Makes Us Different and Successful – Knowledge

It’s a celebration for high school seniors who know for certain that they are on the path to become medical doctors.  Their parents are extremely happy that they hired us. Dr. Lowe and his team were the catalysts that resulted in their children’s acceptance to BS/MD programs.

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We have listed this years (2021-2022) thank you notes/testimonials by our clients. Because of our confidentiality and privacy Agreements, we have removed their names. Yes! These are REAL thank you notes/testimonials!!!!!

“Dear Dr. Lowe, Thank you so much! You were definitely right about putting in the work now to set myself up for the future. I am so grateful for working with you, and I am so glad I got to meet you. Thank you.” (Student)

“Dear Dr. Lowe, Hope you are doing well. Thank you for all your help and support, we couldn’t have done without you. Thank you again!” (Mom of a student. Mom is also a medical doctor)

“Hello Dr. Lowe, Thank you so much for all of your help throughout the college process, I am very grateful to have had your guidance in the college process as well as learn some life-long lessons.” (Student)

“Dear Dr. Lowe, Thank you for the wishes! It’s a great milestone for our family !  You definitely knew what you were doing! And only now we can look back and realized how each step was carefully calculated and put in place!” (Parent)

“Dear Dr. Lowe,  I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of our family to express our thanks to your diligence, passion and sharp focus to help our son achieve his goal of securing a BSMD admission. He has a great path laid in front of him to be a successful physician.” (Parent)

“Dear Dr. Lowe, Thank you very much. Whole Gxxxxx family is happy about XXXXX. My mom and sister are thrilled as well since my nephew is at XXXXX!” (Parent)

“Hello Dr. Lowe, I am so ecstatic to inform you that I have been officially accepted into the XXXX BS/MD program  It is great knowing I got into one of my top choice programs, thank you so much for your help with this acceptance!” (Student)

“Dr. Lowe, Thank you so much. This is overwhelming and excited to see our daughter having great choices to choose from. We are happy to support her on her choice. I have been telling my daughter & my wife that we are missing Dr. Lowe’s weekly Friday calls. We couldn’t have done without you.” (Parent)

If you are of a parent of a high school junior or sophomore, next year’s (2022-2023) is expected to be even more competitive. Blog: BS/MD Admissions 2022-2023 – It’s Even More Competitive


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Parents retain Dr. Lowe so that their children gain an admissions edge and achieve their dreams!
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Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group network.  He and his team of admissions advisors, through the admissions affiliate, BS/MD Admissions Advisors, help high school students get accepted to BS/MD programs. 

Our BS/MD Admissions practice is specialized: Dr. Lowe and his team only work with parents who understand that the BS/MD admissions process is competitive, who desire help from an admissions expert and who see the value and investment in paying for expert advice through a detailed and ongoing comprehensive admissions advisory service for their child’s dream of becoming a doctor.  He also specializes in helping international students in the BS/MD process. Parents who chose to use our services want to call their son or daughter – “Doctor” when they are seniors in high school.

Town & Country’s – This Year’s College Admissions Horror Show – Dr. Paul Lowe’s Comment

Town & Country's - This Year's College Admissions Horror Show - Dr. Paul Lowe Comment

The article in Town & Country: “This Year’s College Admissions Horror Show” by Nicole Laporte discusses rejections and this year’s college admissions cycle.

Here are some statements in article:

  • “Certain private schools that used to have incredible admissions results have just been obliterated.”
  • “Classmates who’d also applied for early decision to the school were flat-out rejected.”
  • “For that [college admissions decisions] to be a bloodbath is not a good sign.”
  • “Although the main derby of admissions, “regular” decision, was still weeks away—those results started coming out in late March—the disheartening verdicts of the early rounds for many families this past season felt like a harbinger of what was to come, as well as confirmation of just how much more angst-ridden the reality of getting into college has become.”
  • “….parents suddenly feel a bit, well, helpless, unable to control something that was, if not controllable, then at least easier to game.”

But even under these conditions, our firm had AMAZING acceptances!  In fact, several of our clients were accepted to multiple Ivy League and highly selective colleges and universities and 97% acceptance into BS/MD programs.

How did we do it?

WE ARE THE BEST!:  We embrace Empirical Analytics by using data science, technology, client-case studies, campus-expert panels, our specialized knowledge, insight foresight, and over 23 years of experience to answer questions, navigate challenges, predict outcomes, and to help our clients make informed decisions that provide results-based admissions SUCCESS.


Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions Advisors