The WaitOne of the most predictable things each January is how busy the gym gets. Seriously. Everybody seems to have “work out more” on the list of resolutions for the New Year.
This year, I decided to do something that would force me to stick with it: I hired a personal trainer. For at least sixth months anyway, I will meet with someone on a weekly basis who will monitor my physical progress. If I’m not heading to the gym regularly, she will notice. Before I started meeting with her, my workout mostly consisted of 30 minutes on the elliptical and maybe a few more minutes shuffling around other various gym staples until “enough” time elapsed.
Now I have a trainer, someone else who controls when I have completed my workout. She watches my form and notices if I’m not progressing. She has me squatting, lunging, building up strength, and definitely feeling the pain.
Feeling the pain! This, of course, reminds me of the college application season.
I’m not only a writing coach and editor through my business, The Write Stuff Help, I’m a mother. And in this capacity, I have felt the pain of the college application season with both a son and a daughter. I know that we, as parents, thought the pain would end once our children completed and sent off the last application.
But it didn’t; it’s when the real pain began. The pain of waiting. And waiting. And waiting…
Remember that Tom Petty song with lyrics that went something like this?
The waiting is the hardest part. Every day you get one more yard. You take it on faith, you take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part.
He might as well have been singing about waiting to hear back from the colleges.
While students may not be able to get around the wait, they don’t have to feel their futures are completely out of their control. They’re not. Some colleges talk about “demonstrated interest” in their literature and websites, but many people don’t realize the importance of this sometimes subtle catchphrase. Students who show “demonstrated interest” during this crucial period when colleges are reviewing their applications may be able to improve their odds of acceptance and thwart feelings of helplessness.
Consider this: The busy time for students in the application process is during their first semester of their senior year. It’s stressful completing applications and making sure to shine in the best light. Now consider this: Usually by the second semester, when the student submits the application, the work and stress falls on the school. Just like students, schools want acceptances. They want a high “yield,” meaning a high acceptance rate from students who were offered admittance. It’s not just a matter of pride; it’s good business sense. Some schools don’t want to waste valuable spots, no matter how good the student’s test scores may be, on those deemed unlikely to attend (and to pay tuition). Thus, “demonstrating interest” matters.
According to Jane McClure, an educational psychologist cited in a book by Christine VanDeVelde, there are six ways to demonstrate interest:
1.) Visit the college before applying, or after applying but before the school decides. Take the guided tour and be sure to fill out information cards so the admissions officers know you were there.
2.) Have an interview on or off campus, and follow up with a thank you note.
3.) Attend information sessions from college counselors who come to your school or community. If you can’t attend, respond to the invitation with an explanation (an exam, game, play rehearsal, etc.).
4.) Keep in touch with the admissions counselor who serves your area and is the first reader of your school’s applications. If you receive a special recognition after you had sent in your application, let this person know.
5.) If you know what you’d like to major in, contact that department to learn about internship possibilities. Or learn about professors’ areas of expertise. If a professor is impressed with your level of interest, he may let the admissions office know.
6.) Likewise, touch base with whoever is in charge of any non-academic activity you might be interested in. For instance, a faculty advisor to the school newspaper, debate team coach, head of the music or theater department, or Hillel director also could put in a good word for you.
Of course, not all schools take “demonstrated interest” into account. But some do. Furthermore, showing you’re truly interested in a school rather than just popping out an application can’t hurt your chances. Even if it doesn’t boost your odds of getting in, it will boost your confidence in knowing that you’ve given it your all.
Speaking of giving it your all, it’s time for me to head to the gym. Spring will be here before I know it! And that April 1st notification date will be here before you know it–if you don’t just passively wait. Good luck!