Question: How do I show a school that I am interested in them if I cannot visit them?
Answer: This is a question that I come across daily, as it is often impossible to visit every school on your list, especially if it is across the country. That being said, it is still important that you do what you can to show demonstrated interest. Many colleges do take note of your contact, as they want to believe that if they accept you, you stand a good chance of attending. Colleges are concerned for many reasons about their yield and need to be careful to accept students truly serious about attending.
The first thing I advise my students to do is to go to the admission page of the college they are considering and click the link for “send additional information.” It can be a bit tricky to find this link, but is it where colleges will ask you to send them your contact information and what majors, clubs or financial aid information you are interested in receiving. Once they have your email and address, they will send you their view book and put you on their email chain, where you will receive notice about upcoming college visits in your area. It is important to attend these local informational sessions in your area, as it can be a great opportunity to learn more about the school firsthand and meet the admission representative who might be reading your application.
I also ask that students find out now which college representatives will be visiting their high schools. Students can find this list either at their guidance office, online through Naviance or through emails sent out by your school counselor. This is another wonderful opportunity to research the school more fully and to make a good impression on the person who is likely to be your main reader of the application. Your goal is to have this admission rep love you, as he or she might be the one to advocate for you in the admission selection process when you come to committee. It is a good idea to research the school before attending the meeting so that you can target your questions. You might find yourself being the only one to attend one of these meetings, so do come prepared to ask questions that might not be readily available online. You might ask questions as broad as “How do you characterize the student body?” or “What are the strongest programs on campus?” It is always a good idea to get the card from the college rep who you met with so that you can send them an email or personal note letting them know what aspects you enjoyed hearing about and your interest in attending their college. While you do not want to be overly formal in business attire, this might not be the day to wear gym clothes either. If you do not have a formal interview set up, it never hurts to ask if there are opportunities to set one up while the rep is in the area. Sometimes, they will set up a small number of interviews in their hotel or a local coffee shop.
Joan Franklin is the owner of MI College Support, an independent college counseling practice (www.micollegesupport.org). She can be reached at (206) 232-5626 or email@example.com.