5 Ways to Show Demonstrated Interest for Your College Application

 

Academic performance indicators like GPA and test scores are consistently the top factors when colleges decide how to assess students applying for admission. In recent years, however, an applicant’s “demonstrated interest” has become increasingly important as colleges seek to accept students who will ultimately end up enrolling in the college, instead of choosing somewhere else.

So, what is demonstrated interest you ask?

Demonstrated interest is the degree to which you show a college that you are interested in attending their school. As a factor in choosing whether to admit a student, demonstrated interest can range from “slightly important” to “highly important”, and some colleges don’t consider it all (including a Top 25 university I’ve worked for). Demonstrated interest matters to colleges because there are a limited number of seats for the incoming class and admissions committees and department heads are under intense pressure to make sure they fill those seats to capacity as they compete to attract top tier students. Colleges also consider demonstrated interest because, as NACAC states in their 2018 State of College Admission Report, it provides “insight regarding personal qualities and interest of students, as well as more details regarding academic performance.”

How do you demonstrate interest?

There are a number of ways you can show colleges you’re interested in attending their school ranging from email admissions reps to taking an overnight trip to visit campus. Here are five practical ways you can demonstrate interest in the college you’re applying to:

  1. Apply Early

  2. Attend a summer program

  3. Sit in on a Class

  4. Attend Information Sessions

  5. Contact Admissions Reps

1. Apply Early

Most colleges have early decision (ED) cycles that are binding for students offered admission and a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Colleges also have early action admissions cycles which are nonbinding as students receive an early notification of their admission, but don’t have to accept the offer until the regular notification deadline which is usually in Spring. Applying Early Decision or Early Action can show demonstrated interest as it signals to the college that applying to their school and getting an admissions decision is a priority of yours. It also shows that you’ve consider the colleges requirements well ahead of time and prepared, and more importantly with Early Decision admissions, that you’re willing to commit to attending.

2. Attend a Summer Program

Lots of colleges offer academic programs during the summer for high school students. I’ve heard of nurse camps for those interested in the medical field, engineering days for potential engineering students as well as more extensive weeks-long or summer-long programs that offer high school or college credit for those completing the necessary coursework. Attending a program like this at your school of choice will demonstrate your dedication to finding out more about what it’s like to attend the college.

3. Sit in on a Class

Photo by  Kyle Sterk  on  Unsplash

Photo by Kyle Sterk on Unsplash

Some colleges offer the opportunity for prospective students to sit in on a freshman class to get a sense of the learning environment. If you’re able, I recommend taking advantage of or asking for a chance to sit in on one or two classes as a way means to establish your desire to understand what its like to attend the university.

4. Attend Information Sessions

In both the Fall and Spring, most colleges hold informational sessions or seminars for prospective students to learn more about the school. These events can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Attending an informational session or two held by the college will give you more information by which to decided which schools to apply to and further demonstrate your interested in enrolling at the college.

5. Contact Admissions Reps

This is an easy one that can take as little at 10 minutes and it doesn’t involve you leaving your house. One of the cheapest and quickest ways to demonstrate interest in a school is to contact and communicate with the school’s admissions team, specifically the admissions rep for your region or area. Early in the admissions cycle (spring of junior year), I recommend applicants begin establishing a relationship with their admissions rep. This provides the applicant both with the chance to get info about the application process that may not be clear on the school’s website and build rapport with the people who know best what it takes to get into the school. When it comes time to read applications, the admissions rep will be familiar with your name, stats, and have a better sense of who you are as a student and person. It’s also harder to say no to someone you like and know.


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