At the heart of this blog is a tagline from a book we all read when we were toddlers that reminds us to be straightforward and honest. Don’t beat around the bush and don’t communicate half truths. This is a universal lesson that should be applied in college application communication as well as in life.
In this day and age of the Common Application and impersonal but necessary on-line submissions, many applicants feel compelled to send letters, emails, or other more personal communication to reinforce their interest in William & Mary. However, to quote Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t help but wonder if the same communication is being sent to all of the applicant’s prospective schools. We in no way want to be in the business of distrusting applicants but we also should not be so naive as to think that the application process comes and goes without strategy on prospective students’ parts.
So, that’s where lovable Horton comes into play. The refrain of Horton Hears a Who is: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful 100%”. A lesson in five-year-old speak that applies to everyone from ages five to 95. Be honest; say what you mean and mean what you say. For applicants this means to simply state it like it is. Do not make meaningless overtures of interest if no such genuine interest exists just because there is a perceived strategy in so doing. It’s okay to be only mildly interested in a school to which you apply but do not lead an admission officer to believe that mild interest is in fact a compelling interest. Many colleges do not track interest so such overtures are not at all necessary. Those who claim W&M is their first choice but who also make identical claims to several other schools do all applicants a disservice because it makes us a little less trusting.
Yes admission is in many ways a selfish process. You have to look out for number one. I get that. But again, there are hundreds of thousands of other students going through the same tedium and anxiety and stress as you are. If you apply to a school only to see if you can get in, that takes away an admission offer from a student who is genuinely interested in that school. If you apply early decision to a school with no intent of actually going there, you have essentially asked your parents and guidance counselor to falsely sign a contract and you have done the same thing yourself making all of us a little leery of the process in its entirety. If you tell a school that waitlists you that you will attend if admitted off of the waitlist and then once admitted, decide to either not attend or enroll only to later withdraw your enrollment for a “better offer” from elsewhere, you have made the admission officer a little less trusting of similar future communications from sincerely interested applicants. Be thoughtful, be honest, be yourself. Communicate what’s real and don’t communicate what you believe you’re supposed to feel. Remember Horton and his refrain and be the 100-percent faithful elephant.
– Wendy Livingston