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Sunday, December 9, 2012
How Devoted Are You to Your College of Choice?
Apparently, knowing where you want to go to college and why, is pretty important. This is often a standard question on applications, and the one that most often causes students to crash and burn. The university doesn't want you to regurgitate their glossy catalogues. They know you want in, and probably have a general idea of the why. Which is why it's pretty crucial to clue them in on the nuances behind your decision.
I've written in the past about why I chose my undergraduate university. I wanted three things: 1) name recognition, 2) big university atmosphere, and 3) a decent education. Not necessarily in that order. I was going for the right "feel". I saw college as a transformative life experience. I wasn't necessarily concerned with the nuts and bolts of why my desired school was the right fit for me.
In this year's State of College Admission Report by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the colleges surveyed cite the following five factors as the most crucial in making acceptance determinations: 1) grades in college prep courses, 2) strength of curriculum, 3) SAT/ACT test scores, 4) GPA and 5) demonstrated interest in attending a college. It's the fifth one that's rather eye-catching.
This means that not only are colleges interested in knowing why you're attracted to them-they give that attraction a lot of weight. So you'd better have a good answer. More than that, you'd better be able to demonstrate it.
Interfacing with admissions officers or other school organizations through social media. Visits to campuses. Personal contacts with counselors, current students and alumni. Go to a football game. Better yet, sit in on a class or two. Be creative. Also be ready to articulate the particular allure of the school to you.
It may not be enough anymore to have a reach school or a fall-back choice. So be careful. Colleges have feelings too, you know.
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