How does a student “demonstrate interest” in a college? Like revealing any sort of love, it involves more than just a single expression. Something as simple as reading a college’s inquiring email, or clicking on a school’s link can be the first step in revealing that interest. But, that’s merely the tip of the iceberg, and expressing sincere interest nearly always involves more, just like in a relationship with another person.
In a recent Forbes article, contributor Aviva Legatt explored this topic, examining both the increased use of Big Data in college admissions (and the surrounding privacy issues), and ways students can go beyond clicking a link to show interest in a college. Legatt notes that the level to which colleges rely on “demonstrated interest” varies from institution to institution. Ultimately, it never hurts to show love: “[T]ake steps to build authentic connections with admissions officers professors, university administrators, current students, and alumni.”
Beyond the email click, how can students show interest? Legatt provides a list of 15 possibilities, including registering for a webinar and taking advantage of an on- or off-campus interview. Students can make connections while on a campus tour, making sure to ask thoughtful questions and following up with a thank-you email. Many universities require a “Why This School?” essay, an effective way for students to show their love. A successful essay of this type will go beyond clichés like describing the stunning campus and awesome dorms by incorporating meaningful moments, like mentioning a physics professor with whom the applicant would love to study, or an honors-level history course that sounds fascinating! Students can attend college fairs and reach out to admissions representatives with questions not easily answered by a quick perusal of the university’s website or viewbook.
So, how do you show your love for a university? How do you let them know that they are your top choice and that you envision yourself strolling the campus on a crisp fall afternoon? Begin with simple steps – open that email — and, yes, click on embedded links to learn more — and visit the website… But advance from there. Take the time to get to know the school, fall in love with it even more, and share that interest in more meaningful ways when you complete your application and send an update letter before an admission decision is made.
For several decades, we have tracked the growing importance of students' demonstrated interest. We've spoken to deans of admission and their staff. As a result, we've accumulated some of the most effective strategies to guide students to demonstrate their interest, get to know a college better, recognize the best college matches, and -- most importantly — improve their chances for admission. Can we be your guide?