Applying to schools is much more than test scores, grades, and research. It also entails some further actions that may or may not make sense. But there are subtle actions a student can make that may prove the difference in the final run to admission.
For many students with whom I work, they innately feel that by just being a good student and doing well on standardized tests will gain them admission. While that is mostly true, and certainly true-ish for large universities, going the next length can help.
As we enter the important season of Early Admissions, it is important to note that this is a big choice and one that needs careful thought. First, and foremost, is Early Decision. It’s important because if accepted the student will go to that school. From a schools point of view, this can be a lock on building their next class. So, in some ways, making the decision to apply early is a great first step. It shows commitment. One thing that is important is not to use early admission as a strategy if, in the case of Early Action, you have no real intent to attend. Yes, it is nice to have sealed up a school, but by applying in the first place, a student is showing some basic level of intent to attend that school.
Other things that are important include contacting the school admissions office to let them know that you are applying. Further asking for contacts of current students who attend that school or professors in an area in which you have interest. Going that extra length of demonstrated interest helps the school understand your passion for the school. It shows that you are in the process of trying to understand whether or not you “fit” their school and their community, which is ultimately what the school wants to know. Will you fit their community and do you have the personality to integrate into their community? This comes above and beyond being a qualified student from an academic level.
When applying to boarding school, while they do not have early admission programs like their older brethren, it is still important to take certain actions. Visiting schools is an important factor, but remember that the visit goes both ways – you are looking at the school and the school is watching you. If you don’t show up to a scheduled appointment, or don’t attend a function, it may have a negative impact. As an example, one school in particular has Open House events that include visiting classes, meeting teachers and students, among other activities. But students cannot have an interview during an open house. If you have reached out to visit on one of those days and decide not to come, a school could come to the conclusion that you are not that interested in the school.
Image, in both cases is an important factor. How you present yourself, the questions you ask, and your overall commitment to the school, in this admission climate are imperative. Go that extra length, but don’t overdo it. Writing emails every day, hounding the admission representative, and not acting in at least a semi-professional way may have negative impacts on your application. Also, be aware that you are not the only student applying to the school. I often have students say “I emailed the school about X (whatever that may be) and they have not replied yet.” ”When did you send the email?” I ask. “Last night.” In the world of instantaneous communication realize that people, and not just admission people have other things to do. Give them time and space. If there has not been a reply in a week, send a gentle reminder.
Actions sometimes speak loudly, be positive, be inquisitive, and focus. When a student wants to target a school, appropriately target. Show your interest. Don’t be afraid to reach out to schools or visit schools. Visit schools when they come to your school, even if you have been in a session before or visited the campus. It shows good etiquette, it’s responsible, and it may prove enormously worthwhile.
So while you are contemplating the final words of your essays, go the extra length and drop that admission representative an email. Ask good questions that can’t be found on the website, make sure your language is appropriate and keep it short and sweet.
Oh, by the way, if you are applying early – get going! Applications are due soon!