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What Is Demonstrated Interest?

What Is Demonstrated InterestAs I talk to students about the college application process, one of the concepts I try to get them to understand is how they can create opportunities to demonstrate their interest to colleges.

Demonstrated interest is a relatively new phenomenon in college admissions over the last several years. While some schools won’t care how many times a student has shown his or her interest, a lot of schools will.

These schools aren’t the ones you will find at the top of the U.S. News or Forbes rankings – but then again, you should already know what to think about these lists – because those schools don’t have to care. Being that highly ranked and being that selective in their application review means they don’t have to do anything and kids will still fall all over themselves to apply each year.

Other schools, however, are very interested in just how interested their applicants are in them and will often say so right on their websites. For one, they are trying to find students who are eager to attend rather than ones who are just eager to apply. A student who wants to attend is likely a student who will enroll and do well resulting in a student who graduates in four years. In the college world, this is called yield. And when an admissions staff can more accurately predict their yield, they can enroll a class that meets the institution’s goals. This is also why the elite schools who crowd the top of the rankings don’t have to put any value on demonstrated interest – their yield is already incredibly high.

So, just how do you demonstrate your interest?

1. Social Media.

Colleges are on social media just waiting for you. Go find them on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube. Like them, tweet them and follow them. Some colleges are tracking this information very closely.

2. Campus Tours

One of the best ways to get a feel for a college is to visit campus. But when a college asks you to RSVP and then to sign in when you get there, you can bet they’re tracking you. When you’re there, get business cards from everyone you meet and follow up with a thank you or a brief note saying what you enjoyed most about your visit.

3. Interview

One way to really make the most of your college visits is to schedule an interview ahead of time. It’s a great way for you to get your specific questions answered but it’s also a great way to make an impression with an admission counselor. Ideally, you want to interview with the counselor who will be reviewing your application. ALWAYS follow up with a thank you email.

4. Applying Early

You have choices in the way you apply to a college and applying early is one way to show a college how interested you are. By applying early, you show that you’ve done your homework and researched the college well before senior year arrived. You show that you’re a more serious applicant and, when combined with a visit, an interview and connections through social media, a college is more likely to feel that you are an applicant who wants to do more than just apply.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation. Also be sure to snag your free copy of the Top Ten Tips For Navigating The College Admissions Journey.

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Do You Know What You’re Looking For In A College?

Do you know what you're looking for in a collegeLast week I talked about the importance of paying attention to a college’s personality. Campus culture is often overlooked but colleges do have unique characteristics which make them WHO they are. It is these characteristics, these personalities, that often make a campus feel like home or nothing like it.

If you missed the post, you can catch it here.

Today, I’d like to take a step back and talk about the characteristics that make a college WHAT it is.

With over 4,000 colleges in the country, students must do their research and thoroughly investigate the schools they are interested in to determine if these schools really are worthy of their interest. Here’s a few characteristics you should be paying attention to if you’re not already:

1. Size

There’s a big difference between a large research university like Penn State with 37,000 undergrads and a small liberal arts college like Assumption which tops out at 2,000. You are going to stand out a lot more at a smaller school where classes are built on active discussion and debate, and where professors teach undergrads and will have time to meet with you to talk about internships and your career aspirations. At larger schools, you are more likely to be just one in the crowd. And sometimes that crowd can be to the tune of as many as 400 other students in your Introduction to Business course.

2. Location

Location, location, location. It’s the buzz word in real estate and it can also be rather important in choosing colleges. Visit Brown University and there’s a lot of hustle and bustle going on around you in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. You’ll be in a concrete jungle surrounded by businesses, restaurants, and traffic not to mention thousands of other students from Johnson & Wales, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College and Rhode Island College. Visit Susquehanna University in rural Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and you’ll find a very open and green campus nestled alongside a small college town where you’ll quickly become a “regular” at the local coffee shop.

3. Majors

Colleges aren’t created equal and neither are majors. As a graphic design major, will you have to produce a portfolio? For nursing, will you have to complete pre-requisite courses in your freshman year before you can be admitted to the major? As a business major, do you start taking business-related courses right away? Regardless of your major, is there a required internship? Is there an involved alumni-mentoring program? How are graduates of the program doing and where have they ended up? You want to know the answers to these questions so that you know what it takes to get into your program and, more importantly, what it’s going to do for you.

4. Cost

Cost matters, but it matters even more when you pay attention to how strong of a candidate you are at each college. The stronger your candidacy, the more likely you are to receive a merit scholarship. This is especially true at private colleges where tuition and fees far exceed those at public schools. So, while you might have a dream school like Boston College, you need to understand that, even if you do get in, you probably won’t get much, if anything, in the way of merit money and will be stuck with a sizable bill that may not work for you and your family.

If you would like some assistance with your college search or financial aid process, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

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Colleges Are Not Created Equal

Colleges Are Not Created EqualLast month I spent some time travelling in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island where I met some amazing students, faculty and admission counselors at several colleges. As much as I enjoyed the trips personally, it also brought to mind just how important it is to understand what a college is all about before you apply.

In a post from last year, I talked about some of the major distinctions that make a college who it is. However, it’s so important to get beyond the basics like size, geography, ranking and cost.


Because if you don’t understand a college’s personality, you may end up in the wrong place. End up in the wrong place, and you may be very unhappy.

For example, at Messiah College, a Christian college in Mechanicsburg, PA, everything is about meaning and faith. What does it mean to be me, what I know and what I believe in? What does it mean to be an athlete, a writer, a musician, a male, a female, straight or gay? Messiah encourages deep conversation about everything we experience in life and how it relates to our faith.

At Clark University in Worcester, MA, the student body is very liberal and very unique. Clark is a place where difference is celebrated as diversity and the more diverse, the better. Cliques do not exist at Clark as all students are involved in a little bit of everything; it is common to find a student who is a strong athlete and a great artist as well.

I walked around Messiah feeling peaceful, like I wanted to take it all in and figure out the meaning of life. At Clark, I was constantly wondering what else I would see around the next corner and how colorful or loud it might be.

My personal reflections aside, there’s so much to like about each school. They both offer a liberal arts education strengthened by their pre-professional programs in business, engineering and health sciences. They also have generous merit scholarship programs for their best students which you can check out here and here.

But they are very different places and that’s important for you to know because a student at either school would more than likely feel very much out of place at the other school.

So, as you look at colleges and visit their campuses, pay close attention to how the campus feels, how the people feel and how the atmosphere feels. You want to walk away with a more informed opinion of how you would fit in so that you make sure to end up in the right place.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation.

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What You Need To Know About Scholarships

What You Need To Know About ScholarshipsWith the frenzy of early application deadlines finally winding down, I had a chance to participate in the #CollegeCash chat on Twitter the other night. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, chats are where people using the same hashtag (#) can talk about a topic. On Thursday nights, Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisors, hosts the #CollegeCash chat. Since she’s in California, the chat doesn’t start until 10PM EST. It’s a little late for those of us here on the East Coast, but the chat is always worth it.

Last night’s chat about college scholarships was with Tamara Krause of It was a great conversation and there were several takeaways that I wanted to share with you today:

1. If you know what you want to major in, you should start looking for scholarships through professional organizations and associations affiliated with that field. For example, here’s a list of scholarships offered through the American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA) for students interested in majoring in accounting.

2. To narrow down internet search results, trying searching more specifically such as “engineering scholarships 2013 2014”.

3. Make good use of social media. The Pinterest board has over 600 scholarships!

4. Beware of scams. It should never cost you more than a postage stamp to apply for a scholarship. Also NEVER give out your social security number or bank information.

5. Start your search locally and be prepared to do the work that other students won’t. Check out scholarship opportunities through employers, your church, local organizations, your bank or credit union, the town library and, most importantly, your guidance office.

6. Searching for scholarships is like a part-time job. It’s not a one and done deal. The more you search and the more you apply, the more likely you are to win something.

7. Scholarship searching is also a great job for parents who want to be involved in the process.

8. If you have to write an essay, apply the same rules as an essay for college applications: Grab the reader’s attention in the first two sentences and tell a story. If your essay bores you, it will most definitely bore the scholarship selection committee person who has to read it.

9. Start your search early and continue with it on a regular basis. There are actually scholarships out there for elementary school students!

10. Look for livelines versus deadlines. Find out what the earliest date is you can apply and apply on that date. Be the one to lead the pack of applications!

At the end of the day, scholarship searching is a process and a time-consuming one at that. Pace yourself and stay positive. Also keep in mind that private scholarships can often affect your financial aid award. Colleges treat scholarships differently, but some will reduce your merit scholarships dollar for dollar for each private scholarship that you earn. If your merit award is renewable (and most are as long as you maintain a minimum GPA), sometimes you need to approach scholarship searching very strategically.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent MarketWatch article about this issue:

“The findings by the National Scholarship Providers Association also point to how colleges treat outside scholarships when they’ve already given their students free aid. According to the NSPA, many colleges will take back the free aid they offered students who end up receiving an outside need-based scholarship.

In some cases, it is a dollar-for-dollar reduction that equals the amount of the scholarship. So students who get a $5,000 private scholarship could end up losing $5,000 in free aid that a college has offered them, which would leave them with the same out-of-pocket costs that they had before they received the scholarship.”

So, if you’re unsure of how colleges will treat private scholarships, give them a call and ask. It’s better to know up front before you invest a lot of time in your scholarship search.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation.

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A College Freshman Offers Her Advice To This Year’s Seniors

Advice From A College Freshman

I recently caught up with one of my former students, Meagan, who is now a freshman at CCSU’s Honors Program. We got to talking about her college search and the ups and downs of it. At one point I asked her what she would have done differently if she had the opportunity to go back and do it all over again knowing what she knows now.

That question led to a few others that I think would be incredibly helpful for this year’s senior class.

The following are some of the questions I asked Meagan with her answers.

Q1: What was the one thing about the college application process that was a lot harder than you thought it would be?

One of the hardest things about the college application process was writing and editing the essay. It’s hard enough trying not to second-guess yourself the whole time, let alone choose a topic to write about that speaks to you. I got really hung up in trying to pick a topic that wasn’t cliché, or hadn’t been done before, when in reality, no matter what topic you choose, some version of it has been done before. It’s just all about how you present it. Editing took a lot longer than I thought as well, since I’m so used to writing one or two drafts and then being done. But when it was over, it was the greatest feeling being able to upload it online and hit send knowing I’d never have to look at it again.

Q2: What was the biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise for me was how quickly deadlines came up. Although I was able to manage my time decently, things got crazy that first half of the year due to sports, school, and life in general. Sometimes it felt like time was never on my side. After every due date had come and I looked at when the next one was, I would think, “I have plenty of time to do that.” And then I’d look at the calendar later on and realize I only had a week to prepare whole supplementary essays.

Q3: If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

If I could do it again I wouldn’t talk to my friends so much about their essays or their applications. When I listened to them tell me what they were doing, I would question myself and wonder if they had better ideas. Then I would go back to essays and psych myself out thinking it was horrible and incomparable to my friends’ essays. I just put way too much stake in what they had to say, when I should have just been focusing on what I needed to say.

Q4: What advice would you give to this year’s crop of seniors?

I would tell this year’s seniors to 1.) Chill out, 2.) Manage your time wisely because it WILL come back to bite you, 3.) Focus on yourself and not what your friends are doing, and 4.) Be realistic.

Time management during the application process saves a lot of stress and unnecessary anxiety. Keeping yourself sane during the process is important if you want to truly give colleges an accurate representation of you.

Although you value your friends’ opinions when you need them most, I strongly feel that this rule does not apply during the college application process. If you’re always asking different people things about essays, or where you should and should not apply, you’re going to get a million different answers and opinions that will leave you more confused and unsure than when you first asked. College application season is exciting because you’re thinking about the future, but what matters most is your voice and where you want to be – not your friends. It also saves you a lot of stress to not get wrapped up in their college stress too.

Being realistic will prove to be invaluable in the future. Take everything into account: cost, location, distance, and your grades. College is expensive, there’s no getting around it. It’s difficult to find a school you love without breaking the bank, but knowing you’ll graduate without $50,000-$100,000 of debt is a great feeling. Location is also important because if you want to be able to visit more than once or twice during the year, you might not want to move to Florida or out to California because flights are expensive and need to be considered. (However, if you’re not planning on visiting often, I highly encourage going to a place with nice weather.) Being realistic about what you did in high school is also important. I have seen many friends be blinded by how much they love a school and completely forget that there is a possibility of rejection. Seeing that heartbreak is not fun for any of the parties involved.

I feel like seniors freak themselves out over the college application process way too much (I know I did). No matter what happens, things will fall into place. I saw my friends crumble over applications to schools they desperately wanted to get into but when it comes down to it, you’re going to end up where you need to be even if it isn’t exactly what you first envisioned.

If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation. 

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