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Articles / Applying to College / How important is it to attend local college presentations?

How important is it to attend local college presentations?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 28, 2015

Question: I’ve signed up for several college visits/ presentations in the area. I was wondering if doing so and demonstrating interest makes any difference in the admissions decision. My name is recorded, but is it ever passed along?

“Demonstrating interest” in a college can boost your acceptance odds … sometimes, in fact, even when admission officials claim that it doesn’t matter. Many colleges do record the names of the guests at local presentations and include them in applicant files. And—even when they don’t—it may work in your favor to casually mention in an interview or in one of those insidious “Why this college?” essays that you enjoyed the slide show or the talk that you’d attended near home.

Granted, showing love to one’s target colleges has turned into something of a time-consuming charade. Busy seniors who have already trekked halfway across the country to visit Occidental or Ohio Wesleyan may wonder if they also have to rush through AP Calculus homework on a Tuesday night to sit in a Marriott meeting room to hear much of the same information that was already covered on campus. (Good point!) Yet I still encourage high school students to attend local events when possible … even when they’ve already seen the school in person. This extra demonstration of devotion can boost your chances of acceptance and maybe even of landing merit aid. In addition, attending local programs usually allows you to meet the admission representative who actually evaluates applicants from your high school. He or she might then be able to match your face with your name at decision time, which is often another admissions-odds boost. Commonly, your visit to the college itself won’t allow you to meet your regional rep who may be on the road while you’re on campus.

You may not have the time to attend local programs sponsored by every college you’re considering, but do try to get go to the ones that are hosted by your front-runner schools. And if you can’t make it to an event because of a schedule conflict, it’s wise to send a brief email to your regional rep expressing your regrets and explaining why you won’t be there … unless, of course, the reason is that you’ll be attending another college’s presentation. 😉


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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