10 Ways to Demonstrate Interest in a College

Applying to College, Building Your College List, College Visits

Once you’ve determined that one or more of the colleges you are applying to consider demonstrated interest in admissions, how do you make sure they know you really want to go there? It’s easy – below are some of the ways I recommend!

(Psst! Some of the things in this list will only be possible in virtual format during the pandemic – registration and attendance at online presentations is still tracked and still matters for demonstrated interest!)

1. Get on the mailing list – and READ the emails
This can be done any time during high school – simply visit the college’s website and sign up. You can also stop by their table at a college fair or fill out a card if the representative visits your high school. When they send you email, OPEN IT. Click on the links. Colleges utilize technologies behind the scenes to see which applicants are actually reading their emails. Ignoring them can work against you! (Also, read this post on managing the influx of email that will follow.)

2. Attend the presentations
Colleges often keep track of who came out to see them during their high school visits. Many colleges also hold public info nights in major cities. Make an effort to attend these – and register, so they know you were there. Try to ask thoughtful questions, and take time to introduce yourself to the representative – the folks who visit high schools are often the regional admissions officers who also read the applications, so you want them to have a positive recollection of you.

3. Visit the table at a college fair
College fairs are an excellent place to learn about lots of colleges all at once, and the regional admissions officer will often staff the table. Take the time to chat with the colleges you have your eye on – it’s a wonderful way to get questions answered by the people who know the college best, while also making a good impression. And be sure to fill out a contact card!

4. Visit campus (may not be possible during the pandemic!)
Taking the time to visit campus is one of the strongest signals you can send to show a college you are interested, not to mention the best way to learn about the college up close and personal. When you visit, sign up for the official tour, ask to sit in on a class and consider staying overnight in the dorms if this is offered.

5. Call or email the admissions office
This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to show a college you are interested. Admissions officers are extremely friendly people (I can say this for certain because I call them all the time!) and they love to talk to prospective students. It’s important that the questions you ask are things that can’t be found on the website – otherwise it will seem that you haven’t bothered to do your research.

6. Conduct an interview
Many private colleges (and a few publics) offer prospective students the opportunity for an interview as part of the application process. These help the student learn more about the college, and also help the college learn more about the student. They can be conducted during a campus visit (usually by an admissions officer) or off-campus near the student’s home (usually by an alum). Check each college’s website to see what they offer.

7. Send a thank you note
After you’ve had an interview or sat in on a class, it’s helpful – and extremely classy – to send a handwritten thank you note or an email at the very least. You don’t have to go overboard; just a simple note will show that you appreciate their time and effort.

8. Connect and engage on social media
More and more, colleges are looking at applicant’s online presence to determine their level of interest. So go ahead, follow them on Instagram, and comment on their posts. Follow them on Twitter, and retweet what you like. Make sure to mention your top choice schools in your own posts and Tweets. And never, ever badmouth any college in any online forum.

9. Write strong supplements
The school-specific supplements are one of the most important places to demonstrate that you’d be a great fit at a particular college. Many colleges will ask directly: “Why Do You Want to Go Here?” Others will construct questions that reference their school’s mission or strengths. The purpose is the same – to gauge how well an applicant will fit at the school. Take the time to do your research and let your knowledge of the school shine through.

10. Apply early
Applying Early Decision is the strongest way to show a college that they are your number one choice. This is why most colleges accept ED applicants as a much higher rate than Regular Decision applicants – they love students who are “sure-bets.” Early Decision is not for everyone though, so if you aren’t ready to commit to just one school early in the game, applying Early Action still shows a strong level of interest. At the very least, get your application in well before the Regular Decision deadline to show the college you care enough not to wait until the last minute.

If you aren’t able to do all of these things, don’t fret. Colleges know the limitations that students face and won’t hold it against you. But many of the items above – emailing, for example, can be done by anyone who takes the time and effort. So do what you can, and don’t sweat what you can’t.

Read my post here to learn how to determine whether or not your colleges track demonstrated interest.

If you decide to sign up for one of our programs, we will tell you exactly which of your colleges track demonstrated interest and help you use this strategy to your best advantage. Schedule your free 15 minute consultation to learn more!

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