Let’s say that you’re a dashing twenty-something who just went on a date with someone you really like. There were sparks. At least there were on your side. And you hope they were there on the other side too. They were there. You think they were there. Were they there? Did he or she like you? Oh no, did she hate you? Did she think you were the worst person on the planet? Did you have pasta sauce all over your face? This way of thinking is quite common among young people navigating the dating scene.
But what these young people are also taught is to play it cool. Don’t text immediately after a date, wait a full eight minutes before responding to a text, if a date offers Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday availabilities — never go with the initial Tuesday. You get the idea. But when it comes to highly selective college admissions, this kind of game is the opposite approach one should take. When applying to America’s best colleges, it’s not about playing it cool. It’s about demonstrating interest in each of the colleges to which a student is applying. Each college wants to know that you love them above all other colleges. In dating, you don’t want to show your cards. In highly selective college admissions, you sure do.
Show colleges you love them and they’ll be more likely to love you back.
So don’t play it cool, high school students. Don’t leave colleges wondering if you’re going to attend if admitted. Visit colleges. Write extremely specific Why College essays. Even if a college isn’t your first choice, your task is to make sure they believe they are. Like dating, it’s a game. But it’s a game that must be played with different rules. If playing it cool is the best card to play in dating, demonstrating interest is the card to play in college admissions.
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