In my last post I talked about the benefits of visiting colleges before applying — particularly at schools where you can collect brownie points for showing up. If you missed it, here it is:
Today I’m directing you to a couple of resources that can help you pinpoint whether a school really cares if you show interest in their institution before it receives your application. Here are the two resources:
Both websites share the admission factors (19 in all) that individual colleges care deeply about and those that aren’t terribly important to the institutions. If a school states that an applicant’s level of interest is very important, I’d highly recommend visiting before mailing the application or at least take other steps that would indicate that this school is high on your list.
I’m showing you two examples of what you can find at these websites. Both sites obtain their admission information from each school’s Common Data Set. If you have never heard of this document, here’s a previous post that I wrote about the Common Data Set: Researching Colleges With the Common Data Set.
Here is an example of what you can find at COLLEGEdata when you click the Admission hyperlink once you’ve called up a school’s profile. This is Cal Tech’s admission factor preferences:
As you can see, Cal Tech doesn’t apparently care if you express interest in its school in advance. What’s most important to this elite science and engineering school is that a student has taken a rigorous course load of classes that would obviously include advanced science and math classes.
Here’s an example of what you can find at the College Board when you click the Admission hyperlink once you’ve called up a school’s profile. This is the United State’s Naval Academy’s admission factor preferences:
The Naval Academy puts many more admission factors into the very important category – 10 in all. And in contrast to Cal Tech, the Naval Academy considers level of applicant interest to be very important. That makes sense considering it is a military academy.
While COLLEGEdata and College Board use the same admission information for each school, the College Board leaves out the admission factors that a school dumps into the Not Considered category. Other than that, the only difference is the lay out.
You can get a sense of what a school is looking for in candidates by examining how they rank their admission factors. Every school is going to have different preferences so be sure to check them out when you are researching schools.
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Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.com and US News.