The evolving college admissions landscape is increasingly competitive, with colleges seeing a 41% increase in early round applications from pre-pandemic levels as of fall 2023. In addition, the college admissions process is less transparent, due to test-optional admissions and the Supreme Court ruling that bars admissions offices from explicitly using race as part of the evaluation.
Marking a slight shift in focus for the survey, for the first time, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s State of College Admissions asked institutions if “Positive character attributes” factored into the admissions decision. An overwhelming 71% of the responded that these attributes have “Considerable” or “Moderate” importance. Further, about 44% of surveyed institutions consider a “Student’s interest in attending” as an important factor. Application materials, such as essays and extracurricular lists, alongside CRM tools, such as AI Chatbots, help colleges to assess these “positive character attributes” and gauge students’ demonstrated interest.
In this competitive landscape that values personalized engagement and student character, students need to consider unique approaches for standing out. Networking is emerging as a critical tool for success. The Harvard Business Review specifically highlights the long-term value of networking skills, particularly for first-generation college students. Stories below emphasize specific networking approaches students can take along with advice for maximizing networking opportunities.
Shriya Boppana’s Diverse Networking Approach
Shriya Boppana, a Carnegie Mellon University alum, presents a compelling case for the power of diverse networking strategies. Her approach was multifaceted, encompassing tours, admissions events, and strategic LinkedIn outreach. Shriya emphasizes the importance of face-to-face interactions and timely online messaging. Her strategy was about making connections as well as about understanding the cultures of her target schools. “It’s crucial to be proactive and adaptable in your networking methods,” Shriya explains. “Each platform and interaction offers a unique opportunity to present yourself and understand what different colleges offer.”
Aaditya Agrawal’s Targeted Networking Tactics
Aaditya Agrawal, a UC Berkeley student, demonstrates the effectiveness of direct and targeted networking. Focusing on his interest in the university’s engineering program, Aaditya chose to reach out directly to university representatives via email. This approach allowed him to ask specific questions and showcase his genuine interest. “Emails can seem impersonal, but when done right, they open up a world of opportunities,” Aaditya shares. His experience highlights the importance of clarity and purpose in each interaction, proving that even digital correspondence can make a significant impact.
Tips for Students to Make the Most of Networking Opportunities
- Maximize Personal Interactions: Both Shriya and Aaditya underscore the importance of making the most of every interaction, whether through organized events or direct emails.
- Leverage Unique Backgrounds and Interests: Shriya’s cultural insights and Aaditya’s focus on engineering demonstrate how personal interests can be used to connect with college representatives in a meaningful way.
- Be Bold and Authentic in Outreach: Shriya’s boldness in networking and Aaditya’s authentic communication style were key to their success.
- Focus on Long-Term Relationship Building: Networking is not a one-off activity but a long-term investment in building relationships that can pay dividends in the college admissions process.
Power of Networking in College Admissions
Shriya’s and Aaditya’s stories reveal the necessity and effectiveness of strategic networking in navigating the complexities of college admissions. Their experiences illustrate that networking is not just about enhancing chances of acceptance but also about demonstrating character and interest in a way that traditional metrics might not capture. As the college admissions landscape continues to evolve, the ability to connect and engage with key individuals becomes increasingly critical. In the end, it’s not just what you know or who you know, but how well you connect and engage with the people who can influence your academic journey.