Showing Colleges a Little Love

I received an email from a high school junior in San Diego recently that prompted me to write this post.

The teenager attended one of my talks and heard me mention that one in five colleges say that an applicant’s demonstrated interest is very important in their admission decisions.

So what does demonstrated interest mean? Basically I told the teenager and the others in attendance that these colleges want you to show them how much you love them — even if you don’t. The schools who care about this are typically going to be private.

You can express interest in a school through a variety of ways including these:

  • Request materials via the college’s website.
  • Stop by a college’s booth at a college fair or when a rep visits your high school.
  • Visit a college’s virtual open house on College Week Live.
  • Chat live with a student online via the school’s admission website.
  • Visit a school’s Facebook pages and other social media outlets such as Foursquare and YouTube.
  • Follow the school on Twitter.
  • Arrange a college tour.

I realize that this last suggestion can be an expensive proposition for many students and if you fit into that category, check out my previous post on how you can research schools from afar: 9 Alternatives to a College Visit

Don’t Overlook This Step

My final suggestion is the one that I could tell really caught the teenager’s attention. Here it is:

A teenager should look on a school’s admission website and find out if there is a regional admission rep for his or her state or area. Then contact this admission officer by email and explain that you are interested in the school. Only do this after you’ve done some research on the college and can ask intelligent questions. Also inquire when the rep will be in your area so you can meet in person.

Lots of schools send admission officers on the road every year to meet prospective students. Fall is the biggest time for this travel.

I got a follow-up email from the San Diego teenager telling me that she had taken my advice. She had emailed the correct admission counselor at her No. 1 school and she quickly “received an avid response” from the staffer.

Isn’t it nice to know that not everything about the college admission process is complicated.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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