With so many applications flooding in, a number of colleges are looking for students to do more, such as “demonstrate interest” in a college to help them decide which ones to accept. Gain extra points with admissions by showing the colleges that you’re interested in them. In the mind of admission readers, students who show interest in learning about their college are more likely to enroll after they are admitted. The school’s rankings are affected by the percentage of students who enroll after being accepted—and most colleges really, really care about their rankings.
Even if you are not 100% set on a school, you should show demonstrated interest. It can only help you to let colleges know that you are serious about your intentions to attend.
Here are 10 tips from International College Counselors on ways to show demonstrate interest in a college:
- Sign up for the college’s mailing list – You may already be receiving letters or emails from the school, but you should still sign up on their website. Some schools will have a direct link on their admissions homepage to “request info”— fill this out. If you can’t find it, Google “[name of school] mailing list.”
- Interact with school representatives at virtual or in-person college fairs and record your attendance – By attending college fairs, you will have an opportunity to connect with admissions representatives. Always fill out a contact card or electronically record that you visited the table (i.e., scan your badge). Make sure to take the representative’s business card to send an email thanking them after the event.
- Attend info sessions when available – Admissions officers travel the country promoting their school and talking to prospective students. If an admissions rep from a college you are interested in comes to your school, you should definitely attend, even if you think you know all there is to know! Alternatively, they may be visiting another school in your area or hosting an event at a local hotel or other venue. To find out exactly when they will be in your area, check the college’s admissions website or see your guidance/college counselor.
- Reach out to your regional admissions representative – The school’s website may list the name and contact information of the admissions rep who covers your area. If this information is not listed, check with admissions by calling or writing a quick email. Reach out to your admissions rep with thoughtful questions that are not easily answered by the college’s website or Google. Be sure to not bother the admissions office or your rep with too many emails/contacts, and always be polite.
- Email a professor – Faculty in your prospective department can answer specific academic questions, and sometimes they can advocate on behalf of promising students.
- Make a visit to campus – If you can make it to campus, be sure to stop by the admissions office. Sit in on the information session and take the campus tour. Don’t worry if you cannot make the trip due to financial or travel constraints. Colleges and universities understand that an in-person visit is not possible for every student. In this case, make sure to take advantage of online events and virtual tours.
- Sign up for an interview – If interviews are an option (whether online or in-person), sign up. An interview is your chance to present yourself in a positive light. If you are working with an ICC counselor, ask him or her how to prepare for a college interview.
- Connect online – Most schools are utilizing social media to recruit students. Online chats and live forums offer students a unique chance to connect directly, in a familiar format, with admission representatives, current students, and sometimes, even professors.
- Make great use of the “Why XXX College” essay – In addition to the Common App essay, colleges may also ask for additional essays. A common additional essay is some variation of, “Tell us why you want to attend our institution.” Do not write a generic essay that can apply to any school. Take this opportunity to demonstrate real interest in that college (using the evidence that you’ve acquired in your research). Need help with your essay? Contact us at International College Counselors.
- Apply early – Arguably the best way to demonstrate interest is to apply before the regular deadline. If the school offers priority admission, early action, or early decision, take advantage of it. The sooner you submit your application, the better. Colleges will often note when an application is submitted; it’s never a good look to be submitting at the last minute.
You will find that some schools, like Princeton and Yale, say that demonstrated interest carries no weight with them. However, our college advisors recommend that you err on the side of interest. Filling out forms, getting emails, and attending an info session costs nothing, and after all, if you are seriously considering attending a given school, you should be genuinely interested in learning as much as you can about that school.