Every single college advisor will tell you that you need to do your research before applying to a college. But many students do not exercise due diligence when researching schools. Make sure that you are really delving into the school and understanding how it will impact you and vice versa before you apply.
- Visit the university
The best way to learn about a place is to visit. In order for you to enjoy your experience at the school, you should like the campus and location. You can also shadow current students and visit classes to understand if the classes and professors would interest you. Even a virtual or online tour gives you a glimpse of the place where you will be spending the next four years of your life. Showing appreciation for the campus or people illustrates to schools that you are passionate about attending.
- Identify which clubs you want to join
Some coaches can put a good word in for you during the application process. This is more common with popular sports or clubs, but you should explore and see if you can use that to your advantage. Additionally, demonstrating knowledge of what you will be doing at the university will give the university reason to believe that you are committed to attending and will make the most out of your time there. They want someone who will leave a positive impact on their campus and being proactive about joining clubs is a strong start to a legacy at the school.
- Look up and contact professors in your chosen field of study
This is a common one. Try to get in touch with professors and see if they will take time to talk to you about their research or class. If you can do some research or take a class with them during high school, you may be able to get a letter of recommendation from them. Make sure you have done work in the field prior to contacting them in order to leave a good impression. Getting in touch with little background knowledge does not reflect well on you.
- Attend an admissions panel
These university employees have gathered hundreds of testimonials in order to market their schools. You can learn a lot about what they are looking for in applications and understand what you need to do to show genuine interest in their college. Additionally, talking to admissions officers may allow you to connect to other people in the university that may be able to help you out.
- Talk to students who have attended the college
Students are a gold mine of information. They know the good and the bad and just went through the application process as well. Try to get in touch with current students and understand what about the school is unique and fits your passions. Shadow them and learn which activities they are involved in. These are great ways to get involved and truly understand why you want to go to this school. Then relate your interest in the university to what you have planned for your future and show how it is mutually beneficial for you to attend.