Some colleges don’t care a fig whether you come for a visit and others want to see your face if at all possible. Most colleges track the interest you show in their campus and among those that do, quite a few add or subtract points when evaluating your application.
Its a good idea to perform, DI, Demonstrated Interest, in the colleges where you will, or have already applied. Its never too late to show an admissions office how much you care.
- Follow their teams and send kudos for victories or express disappointment at loses.
- Follow the college on social media, Yes, this will show all of them which colleges you are interested in so come up with a plan that highlights the top of your list, at least until the early decisions have been rendered.
- Use email to stay in touch with the admissions office. Congratulations are in order for the hiring of an influential professor, National Science Foundation grants, a new president, or anything else new and exciting on campus (like breaking ground for a new building). It shows you are paying attention!
- Update your application with an email explaining a new award, project, successful research paper, sports success, new job, travel opportunity, etc.
- Ask questions! Ask about anything that isn’t on the college website. Does the cafeteria buy locally? Who sponsors intramural tournaments? Can you have your own locker in the rec center? Are there hours during which you can’t practice your tuba in the dorm?
- BONUS: GO VISIT! See the campus at least once before submitting your application and again before a decision is rendered if you live within reasonable driving distance.
Applications from students who have no history with the university are called stealth applications. Typically, they are given less weight under the assumption that the student isn’t particularly interested in coming. The admissions office is charged with filling seats and beds and will choose students who are more likely to deposit if admitted.
Go forth and communicate! Its not too early or too late!
When you are on tour with a student ambassador there is an opportunity to get helpful information from a gal or guy who is knowledgeable and primed to communicate. What can you ask that will lend meaningful data?
- How many hours a week do you typically study? When and where do students hit the books? From this interaction you will learn the rigor of the classes and the amount of prep time required. The guide should also be able to give you a clue about studying vs drinking or socializing on the weekends.
- What did you do last weekend? Do most students stay on campus on weekends? What are some typical weekend activities?
- How much time do you spend with your professors outside of class? In what settings? What do you do or talk about? Answers to questions like these are useful for determining the accessibility of the faculty. Having relationships with professors is important for feeling like a member of the academic community and for academic success. On some campuses there are student/faculty flag football games or faculty open their homes to students.
- What groups hold the most social events? Are they open to all students or only to members? What is there to do for non-drinking students? Ask these questions to see how important Greeks, jocks, community service and other organizations are.
- What are the options for buying books or securing course materials? Are readings posted on Moodle or Blackboard? You probably want to spend the least amount possible on books, so take this opportunity to find out what the choices are.
Before you begin touring colleges, make a list of questions that you can use to compare them. You might find out about professors by asking the tour guide’s favorite or who the best profs are in the English department. To learn about courses ask questions about the most quirky course on campus or the most difficult ones.
Its important to use questions and answers from others to spark more ideas so pay attention to the entire conversation during your walk. Creating a profile of each college is up to you so make the best use of your access to current students to get the information you need.
For a free guide to comparing colleges, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As students visit colleges they are apt to tweet their reaction to a campus or post information about it.
Do you know that some colleges track applicants’ online material? Admissions officers who “friend” applicants can see comments not intended for their eyes.
True stories: applicant denied admission because of derogatory comments about high school teachers and classmates on Facebook. Applicant denied because of tweeted disparaging comments about other students on her college tour.
Best advice? Nothing is private. Don’t make the comments in the first place so you don’t have to waste time trying to scrub your online presence in case the admissions office checks you out!