Could iCarly hold the Secret to College Admissions?

For those of you who haven’t gotten the chance to read my bio, I’m a dad. For parents like me, the opportunity to humiliate our kids is one of the greatest joys that we can experience. Through the miracle of technology, I can do so on a vastly wider scale than was possible for my parents. For instance, my eight year old son loves the show iCarly. Apparently, this is a huge secret that could permanently destroy his street “cred” if it were ever to be accidentally revealed. Consequently he feigns disinterest when our friends’ daughters insist on watching the show.

Pretending interest/disinterest, it turns out, is an important talent well beyond your elementary years. While it’s unlikely to impact your popularity in high school, the level of interest you show in a college or university has a surprising impact on admissions decisions. Surveys from the National Association for Admissions Counselling (motto – “We’re a pretty big deal even though you’ve never head of us”) show that “demonstrated interest” is an increasingly important factor in the admissions process. That means that colleges and universities, especially the most competitive ones, will look at how many times you visit, call, email, and tweet about your unmatched desire to attend their precious institutions. They will also look at how early you apply, as well as whether you bother to mention in your essay that you believe your life (and possibly existence as you know it) may come to an end (or at least be shattered in some way) if you are not admitted to their school.

This often leads to madcap situations worthy of a reality show where students attempt to show their passion for institutions. Many end up rapidly crossing that thin line from, “I’m really interested,” to, “I’m a crazy stalker.”

Much like being an iCarly fan, however, there is a dark side to demonstrated interest. Many of those schools that make the most use of demonstrated interest in admissions decisions, use it in exactly the opposite way when awarding financial aid and scholarships. In other words, if the school thinks you want to go there badly enough, then they assume you’ll still come even if they give you less money.

Fortunately, we don’t play those games at Mason. You can feel free to shamelessly admit that we are the best school EVER and that your life will only be complete if you attend. Yeah, I get that a lot.

In the end, my advice is that it’s probably best to just be honest. Speaking of honesty, my son has asked me to formally announce that he does NOT like iCarly and that I was really referring to his friend Logan from across the street…no, really. I don’t watch either. Although Sam is hilarious.

Be seeing you.


Shameless Plug: Vote for this site in the BLOGGIES

Usually all the shameless plugs are about Mason, but here’s a chance to give a little back for all the wonderful (sarcastic, obnoxious, often random and unhelpful) advice I provide – help me win a Bloggie.

Nominate this site – preferably in all categories.  I would love to be named the best Australian site, although they claim they will boot any sites that don’t match the criteria (sheesh! ).  I figure if I get all the people who read this site, and all my friends, family, and a bunch of people who I pay to stand around and tell me how GREAT my decisions are, I stand a fair chance of getting at least five or six votes.  You can put blogs in as many categories as they fit, but you have to nominate at least three different blogs somewhere on the form. I recommend the ones in my blogroll, especially Dr. Jim Old’s blog about Neuroscience for the Krasnow Institute.  Also, if you just can’t get enough of those nutty presidential candidates, check out my old college buddy Chuck Todd’s blog on the MSNBC site at  Finally, in case I didn’t mention, vote for this site.  I don’t really know what a Bloggie is, but I’m convinced I HAVE to HAVE one.  Or I’ll pout.  Believe me, you don’t want that.  Be seeing you.

the new way to make a college match?

I’ve been checking out  They seem to have great taste in schools – as evidenced by a column in their blog about Mason

Zinch provides you a chance to put down information about youself then colleges can use the system to try to make a match.  Kind of meets facebook, with colleges and universities.  This is great if you’re fishing for schools that might be looking for someone JUST LIKE YOU.

Of course, there’s always competition.  The gang that created the web’s best known scholarship service,, got bought out by, and went on to created  I wasn’t as impressed with the cappex system – somehow it just didn’t seem as fun. Maybe it’s because when we contact prospective students through Zinch it’s called “showing the love”.

Then there’s  This service is part of the mega search service, the National Research Center for College and University Admissions.  I like these guys becuase a) tons of college access they list already and b) they gave Mason a nice shout out for having one of the best admissions web sites in the country (

 So – Zinch is cool, my college options is the best networked (so far), and cappex has some big money behind it.  Let me know if you have others you like, or let us all know what you think of these.

 Of course, if you’re like most students I meet, you’re probably already getting information from a TON of schools and wondering how to narrow your list, not expand it!  I’ll put out some more suggestions on that in the next few entries. Be seeing you.

Thanks and shameless plugs return

Thanks to the dozens (hundreds?) of you who joined the chat rooms last night. It was a pleasure getting to speak with so many of you!

Thanks especially to the prospective student who suggested I insert a little more MASON into this blog. I’ve tried to keep the focus on college admissions, but a few shameless plugs now and then are what we’re all about. In the interest of saving you time, I’ll give a shot at slipping in a regular plug on whatever has me excited about Mason that day, but I’ll put the SHAMELESS PLUS warning in the title, so you can just focus on the admissions if you prefer!

My plug today – Women’s Soccer at Mason – the team had an amazing game on Sunday, basically kicking the stuffing out of Drexel University 4-0. You can check out the details at

While I’m on the topic of women’s soccer, I should also brag about one of our amazing young alumna. Diana Russini graduated just three years ago, and now will be reporting for NBC-New York. Check out her story at

Of course, Mason is Division I in athletics, and I’m a HUGE fan, so every now and then we’ll have to mix some of the sports in between the residential life and academic propaganda!

Be seeing you!

Welcome To Dean Flagel’s Blog

For many of you this is the first time stopping by the blog, so first off, welcome!  Read some of the past posts, comment on topics you want to know more about, or discuss your opinions on the topic in this post.  As far as introductions, I am Andrew Flagel and am the current Dean of Admissions and Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Development at George Mason University located just outside Washington, D.C. in Northern Virginia and I’ve been in the college admissions and higher ed world for closing in on 20 years now (read my profile for boring biographical info). 

The point of this little project is to reach out to students and parents (prospective and otherwise) and offer my views on what’s going on in the world of college admissions today both at Mason and around the country.  The comments section is wide open for feedback and I try to do a good job of responding as timely as possible, though we’ll see if this theory works come late-fall when we’re buried in thousands of applications.  For now, take a look at today’s post and if you feel like it post some feedback. 

 Thanks for reading, and I look forward to interacting with everyone.