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The Ivy Coach Daily

April 7, 2011

Ivy League Interest

Expressing an interest in a college such as Dartmouth does matter in the admissions process. Colleges want students who want them!

Expressing interest in a university can often prove essential to gaining admission to that university. Colleges want to know that if they like you that you’ll like them back. Why? Because yield is a key component of the “US News & World Report” rankings. Colleges want to admit applicants who they think will attend. Why would an admissions officer from Cornell University admit a student when the applicant is the son of two Brown University professors, attended a summer session at Brown, and drew a picture of a Brown Bear on his Cornell application? That applicant is obviously going to choose Brown University over Cornell and with his great grades and scores as well as his parents’ pull at Brown, he’ll very likely get in. To admit him would work against Cornell’s yield and adversely impact its “US News & World Report” ranking.

In an article in “The Daily Beast” by Kristina Dell, an admissions officer at Dartmouth College and the Dean of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania made two very different statements about expressing interest in a college. Dan Parish, director of admissions and recruitment at Dartmouth, said, “As we make admissions decisions we try not to focus too much on people expressing an interest in Dartmouth. We should respect their application and try to convince them to attend on the other end. We don’t keep track of the number of times a student communicates with us. A student’s expressed interest in Dartmouth doesn’t play a role in our admissions decision.” And Eric Furda, Dean of Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “We wanted to know, why Penn? Did you submit a generic essay that was part of a school’s supplement—another school’s supplement? You may need to do a little bit more research before you hit the submit button. Take notes during the campus visit, and even if it isn’t your top choice, still understand that you need to speak to that school and show what you are going to contribute to that campus. Articulate why this school is for you. Students who do well will start citing faculty and programs they want to explore.”

And so we ask you — are they both right? Is one right and one wrong? Is one being a little more forthcoming than the other? The answer is…Eric Furda’s statement is more accurate. Counter to Dan Parish’s statement, a student’s “expressed interest in Dartmouth” absolutely does impact his/her admissions decision. If a student expressed in his/her essay that they wanted to go to Dartmouth College so they could spend four years in the big city, we at Ivy Coach highly doubt admissions counselors at Dartmouth College will choose to admit that applicant. Hanover, New Hampshire is no big city. Just like their counterparts in the admissions office at Penn, admissions counselors at Dartmouth are looking to find wonderfully talented students who will create a remarkable class of incoming students…who want to attend Dartmouth (or in Penn’s case…Penn)! Mr. Parish certainly had the best intentions in mind when he stated that an applicant’s interest in the college came “on the other end” but Mr. Furda’s statement more accurately reflects what colleges are really looking for and that is — highly talented students with great grades, scores, recommendations, and essays…who express interest.

Check out “The Daily Beast” article here.

And read our related blog on expressing interest in a college or check out our informational videos.

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