“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. 😉