Several years back, we commented on Brown University being featured in some episodes of ‘The O.C.’ One of the things we said in that post was that Brown’s admissions committee isn’t likely to look kindly on future applicants who convey the impression that they want to attend Brown just because it was on the show, or just because it is part of the Ivy League.

Admissions Consultant Dr. Cleo Leung agrees. In fact, she says, the same point still holds true for virtually any college or university.

“I think that every school wants to admit a student who genuinely wants to attend that particular institution – not just for the name that the school may carry, but for the educational opportunities and resources that the school offers,” she says. “Students really need to take the time to do the research to find out what makes the school that they are applying to special – for them. And then they need to mention that element in their application. This is where specificity is very important.

“To simply say, ‘I want to go to X University because of the great academics,’ doesn’t tell the admissions committee much. There are a lot of schools that have strong academic programs. You could go to any one of them.

“But if you mention something specific instead – for example, mentioning what you liked about a certain class or professor (if you have had a chance to sit in on a class), or a notable alum who has the same career track that you aspire to – your reasons for wanting to attend the school will be much more specific, and therefore more memorable.”

Dr. Leung warns applicants not to write about something they don’t really care about just for the sake of appearing to know the school, however. “The most important thing, I think, is to be authentic,” she says. “College admissions counselors can spot a fake a mile away.”

– Senior Consultant Dr. Cleo Leung evaluated undergraduate applicants for Harvard University.

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