Friday, February 4, 2011

In February, Is it Important to Show Your Love?

This brutal winter is all too familiar. Snow and ice cover our yards, driveways, and walkways. We spend too much time indoors. (In my case, that means too many hours at the laptop, and not enough in the workout room!) College admissions officers are huddled up as well. In most cases, they spend the bulk of February reading applications, much to the dismay of their loved ones.

As a parent, you may spend the cold, winter nights wondering where your child will end up. If you’re the parent of a senior, you’re relieved the apps are in, but you might not be able to withstand the tension between now and early April. (Hopefully you’re not doing too much second-guessing.) If you’re the parent of a sophomore or junior, you may be reading Fiske’s, scrolling through admissions blogs, or setting up college visits. As you think about your son’s or daughter’s future standing with the schools on the latest hot list, you may wonder: Do they need to show their love?

Apparently, that need varies by school. At Brown University, for example, showing love isn’t going to affect a candidate’s status. Brown has too many applications – about 31,000 this year (up 3 percent from a year ago, when the increase over the prior year was a whopping 20 percent). In fact, when I attended a lecture featuring Brown’s Dean of Admissions James Miller back in 2008, he made it abundantly clear: too many students love Brown, and showing their love just isn’t going to sway Brown’s admissions officers.

However, there are cases where showing love is very important. A few years ago, a student of mine was wait-listed at a selective Southern school. During April break, the student and his mother flew to Atlanta, walked the campus, and showed up unannounced at the admissions office. The officer to whom they spoke took down some notes about them, and two weeks later, the candidate was admitted. He’s now happily immersed in his sophomore year. Showing his love was important indeed.

In this era of instantaneous communications, I always urge students to know how to reach their admissions reps. Sometimes, students meet these reps in the fall while attending school-specific information sessions. Especially with national universities, these visits are important to the rep as well as important to the student; that rep will subsequently read the applications from his or her assigned geographical region, make decisions about their candidacy, and defend those decisions in front of the admissions committee. So for your sons and daughters, it may be helpful – sometimes necessary – to show their love to those reps. This is especially true when there is a development that could enhance the student’s application in the eyes of the admissions office. This could happen when a student receives a departmental award, wins a leading role in the musical, or is named captain or MVP of his or her team. While we hope that school counselors keep in touch with the reps to update them on candidate news, counselors service many clients. That’s why nothing beats a personal note or e-mail from the student announcing an important development . . . as long as he or she uses them sparingly!

So this month, make sure to show your loved ones how much you care. I, for one, adore all your sons and daughters – as if they didn’t know . . .


Nina Berler
Founder and Blogger
unCommon Apps

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