Summer is a great time to show colleges your love. How you ask? Demonstrate your interest!
Everyone knows there are many factors that affect the admissions process. Over the past several years, “Demonstrated Interest” has become increasingly important to many colleges.
You may be asking “What is Demonstrated Interest?” and “How do I actually demonstrate interest to the colleges on my list?”
Demonstrated interest is simply how you show a college that you are interested and that they are high on your list. Since schools need to manage their enrollments every year, they like to know that there is a high possibility of a certain amount of students attending. They need to fill seats to ensure budgetary success. They also, of course, are looking for students that are a fit for their schools both academically and financially. In essence, schools want to know how high the probability will be that if you are accepted you will attend. This data is referred to as “yield”. The goal of course is to have the highest yield possible.
Since the advent of online applications that allow students to apply to many schools at once, (The Common Application and most recently The Coalition Application), schools have so many students applying that they need to have many ways to decipher how high the level of interest a student has in their school.
One method for schools to do this is by capturing data on a student’s level of interest. Not every school cares or tracks the level of interest, but a recent survey completed by NACAC (The National Association of College Admissions Counselors) found that 77% of colleges feel that a student’s level of demonstrated interest ranges anywhere from Considerably Important to at least Somewhat Important to them during the decision process.
"How does someone actually demonstrate interest in a College?”
There are several ways to demonstrate interest. The best way to show your interest is to combine several of the options below. Your approach needs to be tailored to each college as not all colleges will offer all options. In fact, some schools do not track any level of interest.
The Many Ways That Colleges Track Demonstrated Interest
College Fairs: Interaction and Inquiry Card Submissions (or scans)
Campus Visits: They typically pay attention to those visiting during Junior Year or the Summer after Junior Year
Early Applications (Weighed heavily are Early Decision Applications)
Supplemental Essays: Often referred to as the “Why Us?” Essay
Alumni or Current Student feedback
Campus Information Sessions and or Tours typically taken late spring of Junior Year and Fall of Senior Year
A second visit to campus during your Senior Year
Overnight programs or Invited-Only day programs
Contacting and communicating with your regional Admissions Representative
Email list sign-up: Visit the school’s website and complete an email information form.
Clicks on links in marketing emails from colleges
Meetings with campus faculty members either on campus or via phone
Completed profile information on the SAT/ACT registration site
Visiting college’s social media sites (Facebook, Linked-In, Instagram)
Applying early to schools with rolling admissions deadlines. You know that old saying first come, first serve…there is a reason! Schools with rolling admissions read the applications as they arrive and make determinations. Sometimes this also applies to scholarship monies.
Thank you notes and emails: If someone actually takes time out of their day to speak with you and/or meet with you, send them a note. It not only shows your interest but your manners as well.
“Can I get accepted without showing any demonstrated interest?”
Of course, particularly if you have out of this world grades and test scores or if you will be a full pay student. Those 3 thing always help! But, if you want to have the best possible opportunities and the most options, why wouldn't you include demonstrated interest in your admission strategy?
Obviously your first step will be to create a solid list of colleges so as not to waste your time on showing demonstrated interest to schools where you will not be applying. Then determine which schools on your list actually track interest. How you ask? You can use Google to find something that is referred to as the “Common Data Set.” It’s a document that each school publishes that actually describes what and how they track. Pretty cool!
An even easier way is to visit this website https://www.collegedata.com/. Type in the name of a college and click on the link for the school. It will allow you to see a table on selection factors that includes the importance of a student’s “Level of Interest”.
Only demonstrate interest if you are genuinely “interested”. It’s quality of contact that schools are looking for not quantity. In other words, don’t write or call your rep 8 times in one month. Just be yourself and ask questions that you need answers for, visit to see if you like the school and feel comfortable, and thank people for their time. Being yourself will allow your authentic interest to come shining through.
If you’d like to go delve more into this topic visit You Tube and listen to Ethan Sawyer’s Podcast (The College Essay Guy) Demonstrated Interest: How to Build Authentic Relationships with Colleges.
Next up…College Fairs: The What, When and How!