The “Any School” Credo

There’s a reason why a book promising to help you get into any school is feasible. It’s because every competitive school you have ever (and will ever) apply to cares most about these two crucially important things: your ability to thrive during your time as a student, and your potential to become an alumnus who positively impacts the school’s reputation.

Assessment of these qualities (which trump all others) is the driving force behind all components of the application. The main elements—transcripts, test scores, essays and short answers, interviews, interactions at open houses and orientations—combine to allow admissions committees to predict whether you will be capable and happy as a student, engaged as an alumnus, and become somebody whose opportunities or actions after graduation improve the school’s image. Schools need successful alumni in order to attract the best student talent, charge a sustainable tuition, and show a return on investment. After all, most competitive schools cost tens of thousands of dollars per year—money most people aren’t willing to invest without some evidence that the school’s benefits outweigh the costs.

As you can see, it’s not just students and parents who are looking for a return on investment. The schools themselves must make strategic investments that will help sustain and, ideally, elevate their status. Attracting top teachers and administrators, earning reputations as centers of research and innovation, and engaging in other activities that raise the schools’ profiles are top priorities for administrators. Feeding this virtuous cycle of dually beneficial goals is an effective admissions process. Good admissions decisions lock in a school’s desired position in the market.