Inside College Admissions

An exclusive look at the admissions process of three top schools exposes the myths that keep students from getting into the college of their choice

What to do about Theater Boy? That was the question vexing Peggy Walbridge and David Field as the two admissions readers paged through his application to Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. With a 1,420 SAT score, solid grades and top scores on two advanced-placement exams, the applicant--we're calling him Theater Boy to protect his identity--certainly looked like Cornell material. He had appeared in professional musical productions and helped raise over $50,000 to stage plays at his school. "That's pretty amazing," Walbridge muttered. Field chuckled as he read through the applicant's essay about his voice changing from a once beautiful boyhood soprano....

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