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Colleges get creative in encouraging last-minute applicants

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While students often fret that colleges aren't interested in them, a lot of college marketing departments are sending our personalized emails to entice students to submit an application.

With most college Regular Decision deadlines traditionally falling on January 1, many colleges are sending email messages to prospective applicants encouraging them to apply quickly, or are offering special perks to early applicants. Some are extending deadlines to encourage last-minute applications, while other colleges have extended deadlines due to the ongoing technical problems with the Common Application. Students may have landed on email lists because they visited the school, filled out a prospective student form on a website or on an SAT or ACT form, or otherwise have had communication with the college.

Hofstra University has sent out emails with an extension deadline of January 4 for students who use their Select Candidate Application or the Common Application, along with waiving any application fee for students on their Select Candidate mailing list. The email is signed by Jessica Eads, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Financial Aid, and students are given a unique login code to access their Select application.

Boston University has extended their deadline to January 3, owing the extension to problems students have had with submitting the Common Application, although they are encouraging students to submit as soon as possible.

American University's email subject line reads, "Show Us Some Love, Apply Early Decision." They are encouraging applicants to apply by January 15 under a binding contract with the promise of a decision by February 15.

Allegheny College is sending personalized emails to encourage students to enter academic and financial data into their Early Estimator customized financial aid and scholarship program. According to Allegheny's email, the Early Estimator will be removed from their website on December 31--students who complete the information now will get an early indication of merit-based awards and financial aid.

Bates College's email subject is, "Is Bates on your wish list?" Their email reminds students that SAT tests are optional and they meet 100% of calculated financial need.

Linfield College asks, "How will our small school benefit you?" This email comes with an online survey with specific questions asking students to indicate how likely they are to apply. They promise to send custom information to the student based on the survey results.

While students complete applications this week, they should stay focused on applying to "best fit" colleges they have researched and feel are a good match. While it's great to feel loved, it's easy to be sidetracked and persuaded to pay application fees to colleges that mass mail appeals to everyone on their list. Similarly, a free application should not influence a student to apply to a school they have no interest in attending. While it's great to "show love," students should show it to colleges they really want to attend.

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