Did you know that not connecting with a college prior to sending in your application can result in getting automatically deferred or waitlisted? For some schools, it’s true.
While you may be stressed about college acceptance rates getting lower, colleges are concerned about the declining rate at which accepted students actually attend the school. As a result of the declining yield rate, schools are weighing a student’s demonstrated interest more when making an admission decision, which gives students, like you, a chance to stand out.
Below are some tips on how to show a school you are genuinely interested in them:
1. Sign Up for Their Mailing List
Signing up for a college’s mailing list is one of the easiest ways to show that you are interested in their school. Even if you already receive mail from the school, you want to make sure that you also sign up on their website so that they have a record of you personally taking the initiative to connect with the school. It’s also great because you will stay up-to-date on what’s going on at that school. You can then utilize that information when crafting any supplemental essays or preparing for interviews. Just make sure you use the same email address that you will use when applying for that school.
2. Meet Them in Person
The best way to make a lasting impression is to meet someone in person. Take advantage of opportunities to meet admissions representatives at local college fairs and when visiting the school in person during your junior year. A trip to visit the campus can go a long way, as it is one of the most important ways to show them you’re genuinely interested in attending their school. If you can’t take the trip to visit campus, sign up to meet them at your high school (if your school hosts college info sessions) or at any other local events they might host in your area when they come to town.
3. Write a Detailed Supplemental Essay
Not all schools require a supplemental essay. But for the ones that do, it can sometimes be the first essay they read in your application. A supplemental essay is often a great way to show interest, because it often requires you to research the school beforehand and shows the school why you would be a good fit for each other. Including specific examples of what you find interesting about their programs and resources in your essay is a great way to make your essay pop.
4. Write to Them
You can typically find the contact information for your local admissions representative on their website. They are people just like you and love hearing from students. You can write them a note after you visit their school and include details from your visit. Or if you don’t have a chance to visit, but they are your top choice, write them a letter expressing your genuine desire to attend and include details on why you love their school while including any additional questions you may have. Just make sure the questions you ask aren’t readily available online.
5. Apply Before the Deadline
While applying early action or early decision shows a school that you are interested in attending, even applying a few weeks before the deadline can demonstrate your eagerness and enthusiasm. It also shows them that you are driven and organized enough to submit your application early. Don’t rush your application though – you want to make sure you’re still submitting your best work.
6. Write Well-Researched “Why Us” Essays
Lastly, some colleges and universities require a supplemental essay and the most commonly asked question is “Why do you want to attend our school?” There may be different versions of this, but the end goal is the same. The school is asking you to show them exactly why you want to study at their school, how you would take advantage of the resources and opportunities offered, and what you would contribute. The most time-consuming and perhaps most important part of this essay is researching and utilizing specific examples and then relating them back to you.
In addition to potentially improving your chance for admissions, demonstrating interest helps you develop strong communication and networking skills. More importantly, it is an opportunity to show colleges that you’re more than an applicant, you’re a real person with a real interest in being part of their community.
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By Anna Ren is the Founder of Elite Advantage Prep, an independent educational consultant and a former Georgetown University Alumni Admissions Interviewer. She has a Certificate in Independent Educational Consulting from UC Irvine Extension and is an associate member of IECA. You can find Anna with her co-host, Mark Hofer, on the top 10 iTunes podcast for college admissions, Coast to Coast College Admissions Podcast. She has also been featuredin US News & World Report, HuffPost, and Cappex.