By: Susanna Cerasuolo M.Ed.
As you narrow down your college list this summer, there are some things that you can be doing to be sure that your colleges notice you. Remember to clearly tell your top choice college that they are your number one choice; colleges are most interested in making offers of admission to students they know will accept and enroll, so when you are one of those students, be sure to make it known.
Research your top choice college
Be very clear about the reasons they are your top choice. If their application allows a space for you to state these reasons, awesome. If it doesn’t, then draft a few paragraphs eloquently and succinctly declaring your love for them, and find a way to get this to your admissions officer at that college. In this effort, you need to use a lot of specific names from that college, names of: programs, professors, classes, clubs, facilities, fun traditions, etc.
Join the mailing list
You want to declare your interest and stay in the loop, so sign up on the admissions website to receive more info. Just because you get emails and brochures from the college does not mean that you are on their mailing list! Colleges purchase your contact info from the PSAT and PLAN, but when you initiate contact it puts you on a different, better list.
Visit the campus
This is always a good idea, and it should be an official, registered visit. Take the tour and sit in on the info session. Be sure to sign in, see if you can meet professors in your department or the coach for your sport (huge help). And then be sure to send a thank you note. Also, check out our vlog for more touring tips.
Attend the visit when the college rep comes to your high school
If your favorite college travels all the way across the country to visit your high school, then you had certainly better be there if you want them to believe that they are your top choice college. Read the handout on what to do at these visits here.
Attend the visit when the college rep comes to your city
In the Fall (and sometimes in May) colleges go on tour and your faves may be coming to a city near you. They give great advice on admissions, so it is always a great idea for you to go, to sign in and see if there are any things you can do to increase your admissions chances.
Follow the college on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Instagram
Who knows if this one counts, but it can’t hurt, right? Plus, everyone likes to be liked, even colleges. 🙂
Apply Early Action or Early Decision
Applying EA and ED really increases your chances of admissions because you show the college that you are really interested in enrolling there. EA is not binding, but ED is, so you probably don’t want to apply ED if you really need to consider financial aid (though you can break an ED contract if you don’t get enough aid).
Go and meet the admissions rep at the NACAC Fall College Fair
Often the person who mans the booth at the College Fair is the regional rep for your area—the person who will be deciding if you get in or not. You should plan to attend the College Fair in Fall of Junior and Senior year. Be polite and *do not* monopolize their time or you will make a bad impression. See the full CollegeMapper handout on what to do at the College Fair, here.
Declare the college as one of your top four on the FAFSA
If you apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov, then be sure to list your top four colleges in the top four spots. Colleges can see this.
Many colleges offer interviews and it is always a good idea to schedule one if it is available. If you are interviewing with the admissions rep for your region, then this person is likely the person who will be deciding if you get accepted or not. While you may be nervous about meeting this person, at the same time, be sure to try to figure out if this is a good fit for you and if you should be applying to this college. Try to figure out if you will be happy academically and socially. They may be interviewing you, but you are interviewing them, too. Be very polite at all times and send a thank you note in the mail as a follow-up. We have sample thank you notes and interview guidelines in our handouts section.
Connect with local alumni from that college
See if the college has a local alumni group that you can connect with. Ask if you can come to one of their events, or if you can meet some of them for coffee. You should offer to buy their coffee, as a gesture of thanks. They may not let you, but it’s cute to offer and shows good manners. During this coffee chat you can ask all kinds of insider questions about the college—make sure every question is *very* polite and presents you as a serious student who is eager to get involved on campus.
There are lots of things that you can do to show your top choice college that they are your fave and to increase your admissions chances, no matter how high ranking your college is. These things take time, so you can’t do these (nor should you) for all of your colleges. Research your colleges carefully and choose your top college carefully, too. That is half the battle!