Campus Visits

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Demonstrating Your Interest to Colleges – Make it Count


Franklin & Marshall College

As I visit colleges and talk with admission counselors, it has become rather clear that how much interest an applicant shows in a school really can matter.

Like anything in the college application process, applicants cannot afford to rely on doing the minimum and expect to be considered a strong applicant. Especially at the more selective schools where there are just too many applicants already.

What admission counselors are interested in are students who can do the work and who are likely to enroll. This is called yield and it’s something I talked about in a previous post:

Why Demonstrating Your Interest Matters

This is the aspect of the process that so many families fail to see. As much as an applicant may have worked hard to achieve strong grades and test scores, in the world of selective admissions, they have to be more than just grades and test scores if they are hoping to be competitive. At a certain point, a vast majority of the applicants can do the work but there are only so many seats in the incoming class. So as much as an applicant’s grades and test scores may look great on the surface, it’s also about how the college values other aspects of their profile when they are trying to make decisions.

And that’s where showing your interest in a school can help your chances.

But, there’s a catch.

As I mentioned already, if you want to make the most of this process and really position yourself as a strong candidate for a school that you are truly interested in, then you have to do more than the minimum.

What’s the minimum?

Just attending an information session and tour when a college offers an overnight program complete with an interview and the opportunity to sit in on a class and meet with current students.

Not even visiting a college who is within driving distance when they clearly state on their website that priority consideration for admission and scholarships will be given to students who visit.

An applicant who sends an email to an admission counselor to say how much he or she loves the school and then fails to continue the conversation when the admission counselor replies and asks the applicant a few follow-up questions.

If you really do love a college and you really do see yourself there then you really do need to go the extra mile to make sure the college knows this. Really, you do.

So, fill out the card and email the admissions counselor. Visit campus. Do all of those things. But, do more as well. Instead of just sending an email to say how interested you are, engage in a conversation about your major or a particular aspect of the school that excites you. Ask about meeting with or talking to faculty or current students. See if you can arrange to sit in on a class or spend an overnight on campus so you can attend an event or game. Schedule an interview with admissions – and don’t let distance dissuade you. Many schools will do interviews by phone or Skype knowing that finances can prevent a student from getting to campus. If you can’t get to campus, check to see if the school is running any admissions or alumni receptions in your area and connect with the school through social media.

College is one of life’s great journeys but it requires some hard work along the way. Put your best effort into this process and make the most of all opportunities to connect with colleges and admission counselors. You’ll be glad you did more often than not.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, 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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Don’t Just Settle For The Basic Campus Tour

Get Beyond The Basic College VisitAs we approach the end of January, it’s time for high school juniors to be thinking about college visits for the spring. Visits usually entail an information session led by an admission officer as well as a tour led by one or more of the college’s tour guides.

The information sessions will typically cover the logistics of how to apply, averages for GPA and test scores, highlights regarding the school’s more popular majors, an honors program, study abroad opportunities and housing. In fact, visit enough colleges and you will see a basic pattern of information.

Tours on the other hand can land anywhere on the spectrum from amazing to boring. When you go on college tours, the tour guides will talk a lot about student life such as how you can get involved, clubs you can join, sporting events you can attend, and their favorite things to do on campus.

It’s the college experience and you should take it all in. But, what about academics?

Information sessions will mention certain majors or will delve into the philosophy behind the college’s core curriculum. Tour guides may talk about a certain professor or a class but how will you know if the academic environment is right for you?

This is where you have to be a little proactive and ask about sitting in on a class.

Not all colleges will allow it – in some cases, space may be limited, an exam is scheduled to be given or the college only offers special classroom visit programs for admitted students in the spring of their senior year such as the University of Connecticut’s “Husky For A Day” program. Either way, it is ALWAYS worth asking the admissions office if it’s a possibility.

Sitting in on a class is a great way to get a feel for what the students are like, how they and professors interact with one another, the technology that’s being used, and the pace and style of classroom instruction not to mention the size of a classroom.

If you are going to ask to sit in on a class, here’s a few tips to help you along:

  1. Call the admissions office several weeks in advance with your request to give them enough time to make the arrangements.
  1. Arrive on time (preferably a few minutes early) and plan on staying for the entire class.
  1. Introduce yourself to the professor so they know who you are and why you are there. Be sure to thank them for allowing you as a guest in their classroom.
  1. Turn off your cell phone or shut the ringer off. Your attention should be on the class, not your phone.

Obviously this is just one way to get a deeper, more intimate look at a college. But it’s one you should absolutely investigate if you have any concerns about the academic environment.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, 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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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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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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How One Student Made The Most Of His College Visit

Making The Most of College Visits

I received a call the other day from one my students, Nick, who had spent the day at SUNY Oneonta, a regional state university situated in the middle of upstate New York. He was scheduled to attend their information session but had also called ahead to secure an interview with an admission counselor. With the school residing nearly four hours from his hometown, it wasn’t likely that he was going back for a second visit before application season takes off. The school had only recently shown up on Nick’s radar and with a day off from school for Rosh Hashanah, he and his dad made the trek to campus.

Once the interview was over, Nick and his dad decided to skip the information session. He felt they had already received so much good information from the admission counselor that sitting through a 45-minute presentation would be redundant. They took a chance and decided to go off the beaten path to explore campus on their own.

Nick is a prospective music industry major so they decided to visit the music building to take a look around. Once inside, they ran into a few students. They made small talk with the students and then happened upon a professor who was on his way to teach a class. After introducing himself, the professor offered to show them around the building. He talked about the program’s strengths, the opportunities that were there for a student like Nick and also showed them around the sound recording studios. But it’s what happened next that got me so excited for Nick.

Realizing the time had come for his class to start shortly, the professor invited Nick to sit in on his class.

Nick accepted this professor’s offer and spent the next hour and half getting a taste of what a college class would feel like.

I’m so proud of him for doing what he did and I couldn’t have scripted it any better even if I had tried. If Nick had just sat through the information session, he would have missed out on all of this. He never would have sat in on the class, he never would have had a first hand look at the studios and he never would have called me with the level of excitement in his voice that I heard that day.

Instead, he took a chance, struck up some conversations and ended up having an experience that may just end up being a game-changer by the time his applications have been submitted and the dust has settled.

Now, that’s how you make the most of a college visit.

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 60-minute consultation.

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