Some Sage(hen) Advice on College Applications

Let’s be honest, college applications are kind of the worst. There is so much pressure to be perfect in those two 650-word essays and three recommendations. I know, it seems impossible.

…wow, that got off to a dark start. Let me try again. My name is Katie and I work in the Pitzer Admission Office as an admission counselor. I’ve been here for about four months. I often get mistaken for a student on campus because I recently graduated from Harvey Mudd College. It’s ok; when people ask me what I study, I can just say “Your application”. Too much? Yep, too much.

In all honesty, working in this office has been incredible so far, and it has already taught me so much. Like, make sure you ask Santiago to replace the water jug, he really enjoys that task. And, there is such a thing as an envelope sealant; you don’t have to use your tongue. And another really important lesson: Creating labels requires two people, each with a work phone, and a functional printer. That last component is especially important – even if you’ve used it before, there is absolutely no guarantee it will print anything remotely like what you want.

And then there’s the application process. I was a senior in high school five years ago, bugging teachers to finish their recommendations, fidgeting over my personal statement. I recall the stress that came with that process. But now, as I stand among the receiving end of the applications very much like the one I filled out by hand (yes, even just five years ago), there are some words of wisdom that I think should be shared. These words come from much more experienced people than myself (well except for the ones that are coming from me). You can take them or leave them, adjust your mindset or not, nod your head and smile or make a pshhhh sound. It’s up to you. But I personally think there is some very worthwhile advice that the Pitzer admission counselors have posted on our social media sites over the past couple months. So before you read them, be sure to follow us here:

Facebook: Pitzer College Office of Admission (

Instagram: @PitzerAdmission (

Twitter: @PitzerAdmission (


“College life is exhilarating. It’s a time to question everything, figure out who you are – or more importantly, who you want to become. The process of applying to college is the beginning of your journey towards self-discovery. As you put the finishing touches on those applications, don’t forget that THIS is what it’s all about.”

— Angel Perez, VP and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid


“Remember to take time for yourself while finishing up your essays and keeping track of application deadlines. Take a break, read a good book, spend time with friends and most importantly, take time to appreciate your senior year of high school and all of your accomplishments!”

— Jamila Everett, Director of Admission


“The admission decision is not the finish line. You still have to attend, participate, explore, and enjoy your college experience. Wherever you end up you will have so many opportunities to grow and be challenged. Don’t think that an acceptance letter means you’re set for life, and don’t let that other letter keep you from pursuing those goals.”

— Santiago Ybarra, Associate Director of Admission


“Create memories. Yes, the college search process is stressful, but if you let it, the process will teach you quite a bit about yourself. Applying to college teaches you what and who you value. Plus, there are lots of opportunities to have new experiences, visit new places and make new friends. The application process goes by pretty fast. As Ferris Bueller once said, ‘If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ Don’t miss it!”

— Owen Wolf, Associate Director of Admission


“As a student, social responsibility was an integral part of my Pitzer experience. Now, as I read Pitzer applications, I am not only interested in learning how a student has sparked change in their community, but how they will continue to do so.”

— Mattie Ross ’12, Assistant Director of Admission


“When it comes to your application, don’t overthink it! Let your application be a true reflection of yourself and your personality. If you tailor your application to what you think admission counselors want to see, it will be harder for us to tell if you are a good fit for our institution. Enjoy this process and let it be 100% YOU!”

— Sarah Fischer, Admission Counselor


“The best way to learn about a place is to talk to its people: Admission counselors and staff love the schools they work for, and we won’t be shy about telling you why. To gather a more complete perspective, a fuller understanding of a school, talk to the resident experts – our students! Walk around campus and ask questions; the answers you receive will help you make the most informed decision.”

— Nolan Ellis, Admission Counselor


“Applying to college is like lying in a hammock; it requires a lot of effort to get there, but once you’re in it feels like paradise.”

— Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor

Sure, the eight of us read all the applications Pitzer College receives. We make the tough decisions to create the kind of community that will thrive at Pitzer. But we are always here to help in the application process. If you ever have any questions, send us an email or call. And if you’re trying to decide if you should apply…just do it! Nike. You’ll never know unless you click submit.

Posted by Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor