In case you haven’t seen the New York Times blog called “The Choice: Demystifying College Admissions & Aid,” maybe you should check it out. Especially if you are applying to college (or the parent of a college applicant).

Recently an admissions officer from Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, wrote a blog entry in The Choice about what colleges really want to see on your high school transcript. It includes some solid basic advice; challenge yourself with respect to the courses you choose (don’t just take easy classes to get good grades), and know that the situations of every student and every high school can be different (so what if your neighbor who went to private school didn’t get in? You might be different). But the blog also includes a picture of an actual sheet that Holy Cross admissions officers use to boil down a student’s transcript and high school profile into just a few facts and figures. If you don’t follow any other links in this blog, at least follow this one to the student academic summary sheet.

There aren’t a lot of surprises on this sheet– but many college applicants may not expect that little box in the lower left hand corner. This box indicates all the ways that you have (or could have) made contact with the university. Did you visit campus? Did you take a tour? Did you have an interview? Did you send a thank-you note? Visiting campus may seem like a no-brainer, but how many people remember to be polite in this crazy admissions process?

You’ve studied hard for the SAT, spent hours on your essays, and paid those exorbitant application fees. Remember to send a quick thanks to your recommendation-writers, guidance counselors, interviewers, and anyone you may have contacted in the admissions office. After all, if they bother to include it on the one-page summary of your application, it has to count for something.