Tuesday, May 10, 2011

College Seminar Cycle #4: College Application Hooks and Hot Spots, Part 1

Let's say that a college admission officer at a selective school gives your application 20 minutes.

Obviously there is not enough time to internalize every piece of information.

Reading then is not in the cards for the admission officer.

Scanning however is.

Specifically a college admission officer is taught to scan for what former dean Peter Van Buskirk calls "hooks and hotspots".

What is a hook?

Something that elevates the applicant out of the pack.

What is a hot spot?

The physical space on the application where information regarding a hook can be located.

In our last college seminar I took the juniors through the Common Application.

Page by page.

Section by section.

Hook by hook.

Hot spot by hot spot.

My hope was that my students would actively highlight, circle, draw arrows to, green flag, red flag, and jot marginal notes like an admission officer.

To know then what admission officers are looking for is to help our students know what information they need to provide on the application.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Or something like that.

Here is a quick page-by-page summary of our seminar's content.

I've broken it up into four blog posts.

Page #1: Applicant. Future Plans. Demographics.

First arrow: make sure if you provide the college your cell # to have an appropriate cell message. Your favorite lines from Hangover 2 is probably not a good idea.

Second arrow : make sure your email address is 1) the email address you check most frequently, and 2) appropriate (sexual innuendo email addresses are not advised).

Third arrow: your social security # is "optional". However, if you plan to apply for need-based aid through the FAFSA, then you will be required to provide the college your SS information.

Fourth arrow: Hook #1: Sometimes an applicant from Oklahoma can be a hook, especially if you are applying to a school a long ways away from Oklahoma.

Rule of thumb: Colleges close to the Red Dirt state = unhooked. Schools further away from Oklahoma = possible hook.

Fifth & Sixth arrows: Hook #2/#3: What you plan to study in school could be a hook. Colleges are looking for "underrepresented" academic fields. A female applying to an engineering program, for example, is a shimmering hook. A female applying to a liberal arts program is NOT. In addition, if you circle in the bubble that you "do not need need-based aid" that is a possible hook. To circle that bubble in won't necessarily hurt you in the process, but it won't necessarily help you either. To colleges, if you leave that bubble blank, you suddenly become a FREE STUDENT.

Seventh arrow: Hook #4: If you come from a racially/ethically underrepresented demographic, this could work in your favor as a hook. Remember: a college wants to look like an international airport with lots and lots of diversity.