Making the Case for Case Studies

This post is written by Trevor Donadt, owner of The BestU. Trevor was the Assistant of Admissions at Tufts and now counsels high school students on the college admissions process.

This time of year, college admissions decisions are being released to seniors, which give them final notice of an acceptance, denial, or wait list. It’s an exciting time for most to see where they may attend in the fall, yet full of surprises. Some decisions are expected while others come as a shock. It is those unexpected decisions that illuminate one of the biggest mysteries of the college admissions process: how exactly are those final decisions made?

Each year, millions of applications are submitted around the end of the first semester of senior year, followed by “radio silence.” Nothing goes in and nothing comes out of the admissions office until the decisions come out in the spring. That leaves the question: what happens in between? How are these decisions made and how could that inform the way students create their own applications?

Those who are privvy to this information tend to be only the admissions representatives themselves. However, there is one style of program that attempts to break down that barrier and bring light to the decision making process. Most often called Case Studies, there are now programs led by admissions readers that place REAL applications into the hands of prospective students. In this type of program, students and families are taught how to read the applications in the manner that an admissions representative does, and are then guided through a decisions committee to show exactly how the qualities of a student’s application are considered.

These programs are gaining in popularity, but they are often offered only by private schools that have the available resources. It is my firm belief that seeing exactly how these decisions are made is the BEST possible preparation for making your own application as a rising senior. It is also my firm belief that these programs should be more widely available to public school students.

Keep an eye out for programs like this in your area! They may be offered to the public by a school in your area, an independent college counselor, or even by a college/university representative. It is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to prepare for making your own application and worth a search to see if you can find one. Here at The Best U, we do this program for our families to train them how to review applications with the eye of an admissions representative and guide them through a process of selecting the most compelling students as presented in real applications. With this information in their hands, families will feel more aware of what happens after the student presses SUBMIT on the application, as well as how to create an application that is a compelling representation of the student and will resonate as such in the admissions committee. 

To learn more about this program visit our website at or contact us at

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