Every fall, we see the stories of students who seem to have “everything” going for them – great grades, good SAT scores, lots of activities – but their application to a college that should have been “a sure thing” is rejected. We scratch our heads and wonder why.
Often they’re rejected because they overlooked a seemingly unimportant step that turns out to be the vital link in the chain of events that leads to “yes”. One breakdown in the chain can cause the whole thing to fall apart.
The college application is the one thing that will close the deal with the colleges, but by itself, it won’t work. When you look at each of the links in the college admissions chain, they all have to perform in order for your college quest to be successful.
Here’s what I mean:
Your application closes the deal with the colleges, but just sending in your application is no longer just enough. Before you submit the application, you’ll need to engage the college admissions office at every opportunity. You’ll need to stand out from the hundreds or thousands of students who, on paper, look just like you.
So, in addition to the application, you’ll need a strategy to stand out. To do this, you’ll need to build a “relationship” with the admissions folks, and your application essay will need to be integrated with the message that has been the centerpiece of your college admissions strategy.
But just submitting an application and communicating with the colleges, alone in a vacuum, is not enough to get you in.
Before you can build your application that is the capstone of your communication plan with the colleges, you’ll need to hone in on the exact colleges that have what you need. College is not the end-game. It’s a stepping stone that will get you where you want to be. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish as a result of going to college, what will you say to the college admissions office? How will they know what value you’ll be bringing to the table?
Applying to colleges that don’t have the programs you want or the scholarships and financial aid you need is a royal waste of your time.
So, submitting your application, communicating with the exact colleges that have what you need will not get you in. If you are applying “undecided” or in essence saying “I have no idea” then how can you identify the colleges that will have what you need? How will you motivate the admissions office to read past the first page of your application?
That’s right, before you submit an application, and grab the attention of the admissions office at the colleges that have what you need academically, socially and financially, you’ll need to know how you’ll position yourself…
Positioning yourself with the colleges is a critical piece of your plan. Why? There are HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of other applicants who have great grades, strong SAT or ACT scores, participate in activities, just like you. A clear, captivating message, which communicates your goals is essential so the colleges easily recognize the value you’re bringing to campus.
But, submitting an application, grabbing the attention of the admissions office at the colleges that have what you need academically, socially and financially, all by positioning yourself so they can easily see what value you bring to their campus won’t work…unless you’re crystal clear on what your career and academic goals are in the first place.
This is where it all begins. A clear vision of your goals will motivate the admissions office to closely examine your application instead of putting you in the “no” pile in the first 2 minutes. College is but a part of a bigger plan for your life.
You’re about to invest 4 or more years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars in a college education. Why? If you’re unclear about how college fits in with your goals and plans, then how will you know what to say to the admissions office when you talk with them at a college fair, or through your application essay? If you don’t know what you want, or can’t communicate your goals clearly in a way that grabs their attention, then how can they know if they want you on their campus?
So, you see how it all ties together. College admissions officers will never offer you a spot in their freshman class on the basis of just your application alone. All the steps matter, and the entire process really hinges on spending adequate time on the end result you want.