Be careful when doing this. You may believe you're expressing to the adcom that this program is your first choice. To the adcom, that reviews thousands of apps, it could seem like you are too eager or even desperate. You don't want to seem desperate.
If you approach the adcom in your app and interview with confidence (NOT ARROGANCE!) that you are a quality applicant, you will make a positive contribution to their school, and that you know a top school is going to admit you, you will appear to be someone the adcom needs to look at closely. There is a fine line here. You can appear cocky, and few people choose to be around cocky individuals. Show the adcom you know what you want, you've taken the time for introspection. You know your strengths, weaknesses, and you know that you have the talent and work ethic to work just as hard or harder than anyone else that will be admitted. I think confidence, and a quality application are key. Your app doesn't have to be #1. I think for anyone applying to top tier, we don't care if we're the last one admitted, we just want in.
That's my 2 cents.
I know that it is fairly routine to try and make every school you apply to *seem* like it is your first choice. However, adcoms are very weary and realize this.
If there is a school that *is* your first choice by leaps and bounds, what is the best way to express this in your application or interview? Is it impossible?
Expressing your interest and intent can help seal the deal but I just can not figure out exactly how. I am going for Fall 2009 entry so I do have time to figure it out
J Allen Morris
**I'm pretty sure I'm right, but then again, I'm just a guy with his head up his a$$.