Should Applicant Revisit When College Tour Was Off the Record?
Question: My son, who is in 11th grade, toured a college yesterday with a group of friends. This is his first choice and he really liked it. The problem is that he didn't sign in at the admissions office -- he just joined the tour, so the school has no idea he was even there. To show interest that would count toward admission, do we need to tour again?
Unfortunately, we live in an era where “Demonstrated Interest" can play a role in admission decisions ... whether the college folks concede that this is true or not and whether the process can seem at least a tad disingenuous to students and parents. Thus, applicants should bend over backward to show their love to target colleges in a way that it gets on admission offices' radar screens. Since the admission officials don't know that your son toured this campus, it might work against him at decision time as you've suggested. Even so, he doesn't need to take another tour -- but he should make contact with his regional rep to report the visit.
Your son's “regional rep" is the admission staff member who oversees applicants from his high school. Most (although not all) admission offices assign a regional rep to every high school, and this information is often posted right on the college website. (If not, your son can phone to ask.) He should email his rep and explain that he toured the campus without signing in, and it's now his top choice. He should mention what he especially liked about the college, as long as he provides pluses that aren't found almost everywhere. (For instance, “You have an engineering internship program in Egypt" would be worth including, but “You have an internship program" would not.) And it's a nice touch to offer something specific about the tour itself. (“My guide, Ginger, told us about playing intramural inner-tube water polo, and I can't wait to try it.") The note to the regional rep is also a good place to ask questions, but only if they are sincere, and if the answers aren't easily found on the website. One question that is almost always worth asking is, “Will you be visiting [high school name] or will you be holding any events in my area?"
When a student is excited about a college, it's wise to stay in touch with the regional rep, even when the campus visit is on the record. This is a worthwhile way to gather information, and to “Demonstrate Interest." But keep in mind that admission officials are often traveling and are usually very busy even when they're not on the road. So your son's goal should be to establish a connection with the regional rep but he shouldn't expect to be acquiring a new pen pal!
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