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How to Impress Potential Colleges

If you read your essays and conclude that it's your very best effort, admissions officers will likely see that, too.

Maya Moritz

December 15, 2014

How to Impress Potential Colleges

Showing Interest

As a teenager with constantly fluctuating moods and likely a vague idea of what the future holds, you may be completely unsure of where you’d like to attend college. One day, a tiny liberal arts school may be calling your name. The next, only a school within a huge city will do. What should you do when the perfect school isn’t very clear?

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Well, as the time comes to select colleges to apply to, pressure often yields results. But by then, it may be too late to tour, as many colleges have limited tour dates. One good solution is to start early by casting a wide net. If you do tour colleges, visit some colleges on the way that you may be wavering on, also. In the future, you may come to consider those colleges seriously. If a college fair is scheduled near your area, don’t ignore small colleges or universities you aren’t so sure about. Speaking to the representative and signing your name takes only a few minutes, and you may be glad you did so in the future.

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For smaller schools, showing interest is an important part of your application. An applicant who has never visited or contacted the office may seem like he or she is applying without vigor or excitement. If the trip is too long or you have no convenient way of visiting the college, reaching out to your admissions officer is a good way to show interest without missing school.

The Application

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Attempting to convey real interest in the college is monumental where your application is concerned. Often, the question, “Why (insert college name)?” stumps students. For those who truly wish to attend that school, it may be hard to pinpoint the exact reason.
For students applying because they need a safety school or need a solid target school, the question is a roadblock because no good reasons may come to mind. The feedback I have heard most from representatives is that regurgitating a list of facts about the college is not a beneficial way to write your essay. The representative knows their school’s location, undergraduate class size, and motto; they don’t want you to write your essay about that. Instead, tapping into something personal may be the best road to go. Delving into your reasons for wanting poetry in a small rural campus will show interest, but only if that’s truly your reason for applying. If you’re really stumped, maybe you are just applying because this school is a dependable safety school, which is not a good reason to choose a college. When considering colleges, even your safety schools should be places in which you could imagine yourself.

Don’t Lose Yourself

This may seem obvious, but the representative reading your application wants to see you, not your teacher or tutor or parent. As the representative reads piles of applications, he or she will be able to tell when an essay is insincere. An essay that appears to reflect the thoughts and skills of someone else will bring down your entire application. To counteract this, you should be careful when seeking help on your application. Don’t let people rewrite your essays so that you don’t lose your personality. Instead, ask them to edit the essay and provide verbal advice, rather than rewriting your words themselves. That way, your essay will improve and yet still be your essay. Also, it’s never a good idea to lie. If you’re not an animal person, there’s no need to pretend you enjoyed the class trip to the animal shelter. As long as you don’t come off as selfish or aloof, there really is no need to pretend you are Mother Theresa. While stretching the truth to make yourself appear giving may make your application seem more flattering, the representative will likely see through the act. In all, write your own essays, don’t let others edit you out, and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.

Don’t Pander

Finally, remember that being a brownnoser never got anybody anywhere. Pouring on syrupy praises of the wonderful school the reader works for won’t improve your essay. The reader knows their school is wonderful. Your essays should show how you would make that school even better, how you will add to both academics and culture. Most of all, if you read your essays and conclude that the application essay is your very best effort, admissions officers will likely see that, too.

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