It should not make a difference. But it does seem to work! It makes the students feel like the college really wants them. "You're a great kid." "You were chosen from thousands to come." But that shouldn't be the decision maker. I think once the glow wears off, students get a grip. But initially it feels like, "They want me. This is where I want to go!" It's a smart marketing tool for a college, no doubt.
Do you have any anecdotal stories of students not looking into something they should have and then regretting their decision?
I had a girl last year who, as a junior, only had large state schools on her list. And I asked her if she had considered other types of colleges. She said no, because that was what she wanted and because her brother went to a large state school. But now, she tells me her brother said to her that college, for him, was the loneliest place in the world, and he wished he had looked at some other schools. But the application deadlines have already passed for her now. So at this point, narrowing down your list of acceptances is key, but also try to stay open-minded. And be sure to ask that question, "Have you had a good experience at your school?"
If students are on the fence, is there anything they should be careful not to base their decision on?
If your total perception of a college is based on athletics, remember that that might be only five days out of the school year. If it's football that you love, then basing it on five Saturdays in the fall is not a good decision to make for all the many other days you're going to be in class.
Also, I think one of the worst mistakes kids make is listening to people who say, "You're going to love that school. That's just made for you." Well, how on earth do they know? Is it based on their own experience of the college 25 years earlier? Schools change, atmospheres change, and people are different. The best person to decide what is comfortable for a student is the student.
[Read College Acceptance Tips From Senior Jessica Iori.]