Minding P’s and Q’sWhen Applying to Colleges
When the Common Application goes “live” on August 1,2013, proactive rising seniors will be paying close attention to the essay prompts. Perhaps they’ll brainstorm topics or even begin drafting their main essay. Essays are unquestionably a vital component of the college applications’ process! To that end, driven students will spend countless hours this fall writing and editing their essays for maximum impact. While poignant and grammatically correct essays are important, an often overlooked piece to the college admissions process is the purposeful minding of one’s P’s andQ’s (manners/behavior).
This frequently less-discussed component of the college admissions process relates to one’s finesse in initiating contact with colleges, deftly handling correspondences, and exuding maturity and insight during interviews. Lack of manners, initiation, and/or positive assertiveness can decrease your chances of acceptance when all else (test scores, GPA, extracurricular activities) is equal.
While a straightforward concept, minding one’s manners is surprisingly overlooked or perceived as being unimportant in today’s insular, high-tech world.
Examples of elegant follow-through include:
1) Student-initiated correspondences with admissions officers for interviews, information sessions, campus visits, etc.
2) Writing a personalized Thank You note, preferably in one’s own handwriting, to helpful college officers/coaches/interviewers
3) Following up within 24 hours of receiving an email correspondence
4) Having relevant and pertinent questions about a particular institution during interviews
5) The ability to clearly articulate WHO you are and WHY you would like to attend a particular college
Understandably, many young adults are shy and find corresponding with college officials intimidating. There is no excuse, however, for not returning an admissions’ officer’s email or having a parent, rather than the student himself, schedule on-campus visits or make relevant inquiries!
Embrace the entire college admissions process! Use this time to illustrate your maturity and leadership skills through your actions, not just your words and test scores. Colleges DO pay attention to detail!
While these actions won’t counteract less-than-stellar SAT scores, poorly-written essays, or low GPAs, the failure to simply thank someone and/or to follow through in a timely manner, can be a deciding factor to admissions’ personnel when choosing among two equally-matched candidates.
As for interviews, ancient Greek philosophers exalted the virtues of “knowing one’s self”. By that they meant, a deep, understanding of one’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and place in the world. Unrelated to hubris or excessive pride, this quality illustrated deep thought, maturity, and potential leadership abilities.
Admissions officers do not anticipate “fully formed adults”!One of the benefits of a college education is the privilege and opportunity to explore myriad potential career/life paths. College admissions officers are cognizant of this. They realize that over 50% of their entering freshman class is likely to change their major. They are not impressed with contrived, banal responses to their questions. What they are eager to witness is a sincerely interested, motivated, and enthusiastic applicant---especially as it relates to their institution!
Get to know yourself, and learn how to articulate why it is that you want to attend a particular college. And if you are shy, do your best to assert yourself a bit during this time!