During the college process, sometimes showing a little love can go a long way.
Colleges and universities care greatly about their yield rate, that is, the percentage of applicants who accept an offer of admission and join the freshman class. As a result, schools aim to welcome engaged applicants who appear predisposed to accept a potential offer of admission. Consider this: If you were throwing a party and had room for a limited number of guests, wouldn't it make good sense to invite those who would enthusiastically respond with, "Yes, I'll be there!" Would you invest time asking those who would likely put you off with, "Um, I''ll have to check…” or who have long seemed lukewarm about hanging out with you?
How schools gauge interest will depend on each institution's priorities. For super-selective schools, such as Ivies and the like, or public colleges that rely mostly on an applicant’s statistics, demonstrated enthusiasm on its own is not going to propel one very far. For many schools, however, demonstrating interest matters and simply starts with “showing up.”
Have you taken the time to contact the Admissions Office with questions to voice curiosity about the school? How about a campus tour? For colleges that value this expression of interest, visiting is an important demonstration of an applicant's intention to grasp more about the school and potentially enroll. If an applicant lives within a 3-4 hour drive, the college may expect the student to head on over for a look.
Not everyone, however, has the time and funds to trek out to distant college campuses. Costs for transportation, hotels, and meals add up quickly, and admissions offices understand this. If a campus visit is not realistic, there are other ways to reach out to a school to let them know that they are on your radar.
Try emailing or phoning the admissions office to request that pertinent information be forwarded to you – or ask where to locate it on the school website. Find out if college representatives will be attending college fairs close to where you live. Admissions reps commonly field student questions about majors and requirements; interviewing possibilities; high school visits; merit award potential. Because campus extracurricular life is central to a vibrant college experience, specific questions about activities; ways to become involved; or research prospects are also welcome questions for admissions representatives.
At the very least, simply find your spot on the school mailing list. If a college contacts you with information or inquires about what matters to you in your education, do respond and investigate further.
Taking the time to express sincere interest in a school and how it’s offerings fit your goals can end up supporting your best interest!
Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. She is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com