High school seniors across the country are in the throes of completing their college applications. As they fill out forms and jot down essay topics, many wonder how they can improve their odds of being accepted into their dream school.
There are a number of ways to increase your chances of getting into the college you want, but making sure your application inquiries are on point is a great place to start.
Here’s what you need to know about crafting successful college admissions inquiries.
What kind of essays do admission committees pay attention to?
Call into the school and speak to someone (a representative) from admissions to ask for the types of essays the school cares about. Get their opinion on what topics matter to them.
This goes beyond your traditional, albeit original, research on the school's motto and whatever available media info on the web.
When you ask a school staff, you could:
- Get a hint of what's next for them. The school might be shifting gears, going down in a new direction. Such info won't be publicised yet. Knowing these insider info early can reduce nervousness in a subsequent college interview as this won't be new news to you - you've already heard it!
- Get a sense on what the people in the school cares about and what's a motivator for them. Your strengths in sweet-talking and candid chit chat will only work over the phone (if you email, it'll go in the junk)
- Get competitive advantage by not writing whatever other college applicants write about. Admissions get tons of essays. And they'll know which themes keep repeating and will make them feel bored out of their minds. Personal and family topics (for example) could be interesting for you, but not these people screening and scoring hundreds of essays! And get them to tell you what's good and what's not so you can avoid those in your application.
What role does extracurricular activity play in the decision making process?
As the college admissions process becomes more competitive, students are looking for any edge they can get. These days, simply getting good grades and test scores is not enough. Many colleges are now considering factors like essays, recommendations, interviews, and extracurricular activities - additional motivators - when making their decisions. So what can you do to set yourself apart from the rest?
Ask the school.
Are outside-school activities important? Follow up and ask how do these activities set candidates apart?
In what ways are they important? Bring relevance back to you and your application (later on). If these after-school activities are significant, then you'll know early that these may be interview questions that will appear in the first or second round interview. Rather than in the subsequent third round, important topics are usually talked about early.
Is being a leader in extracurricular activity impressive? Compare with other candidates and see how you can elevate your profile. Or if you don't have much leadership experience, try to spin your "followership" to something impressive by practicing your pitch with them over the phone! (Maybe talk collaborative and participative efforts as a contributor?) See how they react, and adapt from there.
Asking these sorts of questions shows that you are truly interested in attending a particular school and that you are willing to go above and beyond in order to improve your chances of being admitted.
By doing so, you can learn about any specific requirements or preferences that may be taken into consideration during the admissions process. Additionally, you can get a sense of what the college is looking for in applicants, and tailor your application accordingly.
So if you want to give yourself a leg up on the competition, be bold and start inquiring today!