Knowing "the tricks" can only get your child so far. He or she is always better off being him or herself than trying to beat the system. For instance, applying to a program that's considered "easier to get into" rather than the one that he or she is truly interested in, can backfire. Share the following insider tips with your child:
- Be discreet about where you're applying. Too many applicants from your high school cuts down your chances of being accepted.
- Let the colleges know you're really interested. Make personal connections with the college representative for your school and keep in touch. Many colleges consider "demonstrated interest" when making decisions.
- Send a thank-you note after interviews, visits, or if an admissions officer has been extremely helpful. You'll get your name in front of them again. When they're reading your application they'll feel as if they know you.
- Go beyond the brochure, website and info sessions when answering a "Why this college?" message. Do research and find out things that relate specifically to your goals. Show the college that you're a great match.
- Market yourself! If you do something special (art, music, photography) send a sample of your work.
- Submit additional information if necessary. If you have a special circumstance (e.g. disability, parent's divorce, death in the family, etc.) that has affected your high school record, let the college know.
- Proofread your application. Careless mistakes show lack of attention to detail, which is the last impression you want to give an admissions committee.
- Practice for interviews. This will make you less nervous and better prepared.
- If you don't need financial aid—let the college know.