The Importance of Demonstrating Interest in College Admissions

A photo illustrating college advisor South Florida at International College Counselors explains the importance of demonstrating interest in college admissions.

“Demonstrated interest” is a powerful tool in the college admissions process. When one demonstrates interest in a college, it shows the admission committee that a student is genuinely interested in attending. Admission readers often see students who exhibit this interest as more likely to enroll if accepted. Because a school’s ranking can be influenced by its yield rate (the percentage of admitted students who enroll), many colleges place significant value on demonstrated interest.

Even if your student is not entirely certain about a particular school, showing demonstrated interest for college admissions can only benefit them. Here are nine strategies from International College Counselors to help students effectively demonstrate their interest:

1. Join the College’s Mailing List: This is important, and it’s not too early to sign up as a freshman or sophomore. Even if students are already receiving emails or letters from the school, go to the school’s website and sign up for their mailing list. Look for a “request info” link on the admissions homepage or search “[name of school] mailing list” on Google. When you’re on a college’s mailing list, you are likely to be invited to events and programs that are not advertised elsewhere.

2. Engage with Representatives at College Fairs: Whether virtual or in-person, college fairs offer excellent opportunities to connect with admissions representatives. Always fill out a contact card or electronically record your visit by scanning your badge. After the event, send a thank-you email to the representative. (Get their business card at the in-person fair or find their email on their school’s website if it’s a virtual fair). Gratitude goes a long way!

3. Attend Information Sessions: Admissions officers travel more than rock bands on tour. Be sure to attend when they visit your school or hold nearby receptions. Check the college’s admissions website or consult your school’s college counseling webpage to find out when they’ll be in your area.

4. Contact Your Regional Admissions Representative: The admissions office’s website usually lists the contact information for the representative assigned to your area. If not, call or email the admissions office. If needed, reach out to your rep with questions when you can’t find the answer online. Be concise and polite. If you are working with an ICC counselor, we can review your emails for clarity before you send them.

5. Visit the Campus: If possible, visit the campus. Attend an information session and take an official campus tour. If an in-person visit isn’t feasible due to financial or travel constraints, it is a must to participate in online events and virtual tours.

6. Sign Up for an Interview: If the college offers interviews, whether online or in-person, students can take advantage of this opportunity to present themselves positively. Consult your ICC counselor on how to prepare effectively.

7. Connect Through Social Media: Many schools use social media to interact with prospective students. Join online chats and live forums to connect with admission representatives, current students, and sometimes professors. Follow the admissions offices on X, Instagram, and/or Facebook.

8. Read the Emails They Send You: Many colleges now track whether you open the emails they send you, how long you spend reading those emails, and whether you open links in those emails. If it’s a college you care about, take the time to use those emails to learn more about the school and its programs. This will help you with #9 below. Beyond that, we have heard from several colleges that students’ applications were turned down for lack of engagement with the college’s communications, including reminders about missing application items.

9. Leverage the “Why Our College” Essay: In addition to the main application essay, many colleges ask for an additional essay about why a student wants to attend their institution in particular. Tailor this essay specifically to each school by using insights gleaned from research to demonstrate genuine interest. Hint: Saying you love their football team, their “beautiful campus,” or their “amazing professors” won’t cut it. If you need help with your essays, consider using our writing support services at Edit the Work.

10. Apply Early: Applying before the Regular Decision (RD) deadline is one of the most effective ways to show interest. Take advantage of Priority Admission, Early Action, or Early Decision options if available. Learn more about your different options here. If it’s a college with a Rolling deadline, applying early (September/October) is always a good idea, as there’s more space available at that time of year. Learning some of your admission decisions early (in December, January, or February) can take some of the stress out of the process, which can stretch into April of senior year.

While some prestigious schools like Columbia and Yale claim that demonstrated interest does not influence their decisions, it is generally beneficial to show interest wherever possible. Engaging with schools by filling out forms, reading their emails, and attending info sessions costs nothing and helps students learn more about institutions they might seriously consider attending.

By strategically demonstrating interest, a student can significantly enhance their chances of making a positive impression on admissions committees and ultimately gaining acceptance to the colleges of their choice.

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