LaunchX Admissions Committee Application Reviews – Demystified
By Laurie Stach
May 10, 2017
At Launch, we look for a bit different criteria when we do application reviews than you might be used to from your school, extracurricular activities, and parents. We have high expectations for the students of this program, which means that we have high expectations of your display of entrepreneurial propensity and work ethic as displayed by your application.
We want you to be able to display your best self to the LaunchX admissions team, so here is our list of main things we look for in stellar applicants:
- Entrepreneurial experience – this doesn’t mean that you have to have started a thriving company already (though that experience can be helpful), though we do need to see that you have pushed yourself outside your comfort zone to take initiative and persevere on an area of your interest, usually outside traditional, more easily available options. We respect when students have been resourceful about making their own opportunities. A few students have had experience as an intern for a startup or venture capital (VC) firm. These can add value to an application, though mainly when the experience has lasted long enough for you to not just learn a bit about the operation, but to contribute and adjust based on feedback.
- Insight – we are particularly impressed by students who are able to share not just what they do in their activities, but the impact of their involvement. This may include showing the numbers and method of increasing the club members of an organization you turned around, your number of customers and revenue of an event or startup, or number of iterations and downloads of a published app.
- Commitment – another way to show your entrepreneurial propensity is through an intensive and long-term project, displayed through the amount of time you devote to the project and your length of involvement. This may be through several activities that have a common theme, though we need to see that you have what it takes to pour yourself intensely into an area of your interest.
- Teamwork / leadership – Launch is an intensive team-based program, so ideal candidates also show themselves to be able to dynamically collaborate well in a team environment, often shown through team-based activities like sports. Strong leadership can be an added value, though is not sufficient on its own. Most of the Launch students identify as leaders, so this organizational capacity can be helpful (mainly if captain or president), but even leaders need to be able to work well in a team of other top students.
You may have noticed that there are a few traditional metrics that we have NOT included here:
- Grades – yes, we ask you to submit grades as part of your application, though this is one of the least important aspects during our review. This is one way to show a propensity for learning and challenging yourself, but not nearly as important as your activities and video. We are more impressed by entrepreneurial activity than by A’s and AP’s.
- Awards – trophies and certificates are a snapshot in time of that group’s assessment tool, which is often different from what an entrepreneurial program seeks. They can be helpful in reinforcing an interest area you have strongly pursued, though less traditional metrics than awards are often more impressive, such as your impact on customers (whether your customers are other club members, interest in your prototype, etc.)
Overall, we look for students who have pushed themselves out of the comfort zone in an area of interest, and shown themselves to be able to contribute something exceptional in a startup team and the Launch community environment. So keep pursuing those quirky hobbies and we look forward to learning about them during next year’s application reviews!