College recruitment season is still going in full force, at least for a few more weeks. Admission representatives visit thousands of high schools throughout the United States, attend college fairs, and present to parents at special events both on and off-campus. This is a great time for students to learn about prospective colleges, and attendance and interactions at these events may be tracked by these schools. Students who already have a college list can show colleges they are truly excited through taking advantage of these visit and event opportunities. Many times, this will be a factor in the admission decision.
What is demonstrated interest?
Demonstrated interest is the degree to which a student shows the college that she is interested in attending (simple enough). Colleges track interactions, such as tour attendance, conversations with admission representatives, engagement with social media pages, etc. and use this information in making admission decisions. These student behaviors can be quantified and often colleges plug this in to magic algorithms or predictive models. The college’s goal is to admit students that are truly excited about the college and will say “yes” if they are admitted.
Where is it important?
Demonstrated interest is generally most important at smaller schools, private colleges and/or liberal arts colleges. Understandably, a college with a smaller student body or fewer majors to choose from wants to make sure that applicants and entering students know what is offered and will fit in on that campus. It can also be important at colleges that are trying to improve their reputations and admission numbers.
On the flip side, large public universities have hundreds of majors and clubs – everyone can find their niche – so interest typically is not as important at these colleges. A good chunk of Ivies also do not care if students visit/email/stalk their offices because of the sheer volume of kids hoping to get in.
How can students demonstrate their interest and ensure they are on their chosen college’s radar?
• Attend college fairs, such as the large NACAC fairs in the fall or regional college fairs in the spring. These are huge events and good opportunities for engaging with many colleges all at once.Students should bring a resume, and be sure to sign up for the mailing list!
• Go to college-specific receptions, usually held at local restaurants or hotels in the summer or fall. Learn about this on the school’s website or through the college’s mailing list.
• Do a campus tour, and be sure to sign in once on campus to make it official!
• Attend presentations at the high school, if offered. Students should check-in with the counseling office to see who’s coming.
• Set up an interview with the designated admissions representative or alumni, if offered. (Seniors only)
• Apply early. Even if a student doesn’t select early action or early decision, the simple act of submitting an application well before the deadline is an indicator of that student’s interest in the college. (And a positive sign that the student organized and can manage deadlines!)
• Complete any optional essays and supplemental information in the application.
Interacting with colleges in a few of the ways listed above gives students the information they need to determine whether that college will be a good fit for their personality, career goals and interests. Likewise, it tells the college that you are excited about that institution and is a positive indicator that the student may say yes if offered admission.