A Wag of My Finger: Why You Should Fill Out the Prospect Card

(Source: gstatic.com)

What is the prospect card?

The information/inquiry/prospect card is something that you will see at any college fair, high school visit, or college marketing events without a doubt. At some of the larger fairs like those held by the National Association for College Admission Counselors (NACAC), we’ve gone digital and have allowed you to create a bar-code with all of the pertinent information that colleges request. We simply scan the bar code and you’re information is securely transferred to the institution. Another common method involves the use of preparing labels with your information so that you can slap a sticker on our cards, check for any additional info that is needed and keep it moving. Many colleges including Rochester are continually evaluating ways in which we can enhance this process for students, perhaps make it completely digital all the time and ultimately do away with the card itself. We’d like to get there sooner than later, trust me.

Why should I fill it out?

Until we get to that point of paperless and quick absorption of your information, the inquiry card for many of us is very important. Heard of demonstrated interest? It’s important to understand not all colleges emphasize demonstrated interest as an important part of their process. But everyone will highlight the importance of filling out the inquiry card completely and accurately. So, a big WAG OF MY FINGER to those of you who do not take this seriously or leave out information like your email, address, and birth date. Without any of that information, you cannot be entered into the system or be guaranteed any follow up communication from the respective institution.

It shows demonstrated interest!

At Rochester, the inquiry card records a point of contact, revealing demonstrated interest. It’s not the only way one can show demonstrated interest, but it’s a point of contact you don’t want to let slip away. It’s a very important part of evaluating an application for admission and scholarship. For many, it’s the first step to letting a University know that you are interested. For others, is a matter of showing continued interest. I say to students all the time: “It doesn’t matter if you see me at your high school, or at a college fair. Each time you fill out the card, it's recording contact at that particular date and location. I promise that you will not see two or more of the same emails or mail being delivered because you filled out the same card more than once.”

It helps counselors remember your great conversation together when they're reviewing your application.

This fall during my travels, I’ve seen an increased number of families intentionally refusing to put birth dates and address information on these inquiry cards and debating about it in front of me. Even after my attempt to educate them of the importance of filling it out correctly and completely, they nod and still leave missing fields on the cards. Failing to do so will mean that the information will not be entered into our system correctly, or will not be entered at all. I’ve also had great conversations with students and families about the educational opportunities at Rochester and the importance of demonstrated interest (filling out the card here and now) at fairs and then watch them walk away without filling out the inquiry card… BIG MISTAKE! It will likely be impossible for me to remember that we had such a good conversation when you apply, but I am guaranteed to remember the conversation and point of contact if I see that we spoke at a fair in Fairfax, VA on October 22, 2013 (not pointing to any particular fair, totally coincidental if there happened to be a fair there on that day).

I would advise you to simply take a second and ask the admission counselor or representative in front of you, "What is the value of the inquiry card? Does it play a role in demonstrated interest?" For some institutions, it may even be the start of an application, so make sure it’s filled out correctly. Understand that the additional 60 seconds or less it takes to fill out that inquiry card could be the difference between and acceptance letter or a scholarship, when all else is considered.

Here’s a look at the admit rates for students (graduating seniors for each respective year) who correctly filled out the inquiry card at Rochester over the past years.

Fall Incoming Class

Completed Inquiry Cards Collected

% Admitted










A tip of my hat to those of you who fill out the inquiry cards completely.

About the author

Damian Garcia

I'm the Regional Associate Director for the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the South. I'm an alumnus of Rochester, from Brooklyn, NY, but I was originally born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago. At Rochester, I majored in African and African-American studies, clustered in political economy and engineering design and obtained a management studies certificate in accounting and finance. I look forward to meeting and speaking with you on the road!

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