Q: I applied to seven colleges, regular decision. There are three that I really hope I get into. The others are fine, but I’m not that excited about them. My counselor thinks I have a pretty good chance at most of them – but not the top three. And those are the ones where I most want to get accepted. I’m not going to hear anything for two months – and I worry that my applications will just get overlooked in the piles of folders. Now that everything is turned in, what else can I do to make the admissions people notice me? I’m an excellent baker – what if I sent boxes of my brownies to the admissions offices at my top choice schools? Or should I write an additional personal letter telling them how much I want to attend? Would handwritten letters make a better impression than e-mail notes? How many times do you think I ought to contact them?
A: Simply waiting is very difficult. I understand your desire to be active rather than passive at this point. You want to do something. But please resist the urge to communicate unless completely necessary. The main thing admissions readers want to receive, after an application is originally submitted, is an updated transcript. Right about now, high schools ought to be sending these to the colleges where students have applied. This is the major piece of information that will help determine the admissions decision.
No brownies! That will fall into the area known as “trying too hard.” And unless you have developed a special rapport with an admissions representative during this year, do not send notes. IF you have personally met with an admissions rep, it is fine to send ONE e-mail or note, something along the lines of “It was a pleasure to met with you at my school and learn more about ________ College. I want to let you know that I have just submitted my application.” Short and sweet. IF something major happens since the time you submitted your application – winning a scholarship, being elected to a local civic organization, leading your team to a state championship – send the colleges an update. Or have your college counselor do that. Do not send weekly e-mails about your daily life: “Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I got an A on the biology test I took this week!” or “Good morning! I know you are very busy, so I don’t want to bother you. But I want to remind you that __________ College is my #1 choice, and if I am admitted I will definitely attend!” Don’t do this – some admissions readers will find these messages annoying, and some will be creeped out. Do not stalk the admissions offices! Leave them alone and let them do their work.
For the most part, once they are admitted, students forget about the folks who granted them the opportunity to attend. But if, during the first weeks of your freshman year, you bring some brownies to the admissions staff of the college where you decide to enroll, now that would be an appreciated gesture!