Updated: May 3
It's been a long day: an 8:00 am math class, a pop quiz in history, and when you finally return home for some peace and quiet you find a stack of college propaganda and an inbox full of college emails. We get it. It's overwhelming and feels like spam, but these communications are important. When it comes to making admission decisions and two applications are nearly identical, sometimes the deciding factor is which applicant has made it more clear that they are interested in attending the institution. Almost all interactions a student has with a college are recorded, and this is known as Demonstrated Interest.
The easiest way to demonstrate interest is to open those pesky emails sent by institutions to which the student plans to apply (ignore the ones from schools that aren't of interest-in fact, you can ask them to remove you from their email list). When we recommend opening these emails, we aren't encouraging you to simply mark the email as read, rather we are suggesting that students take the time to read through the content, click on relevant links included throughout the email, and actually spend time becoming familiar with the school. When colleges send prospective student emails, they include trackable links specifically made for each email address. Clicking these links allows colleges to know which links were clicked, which pages were subsequently viewed on their website, and how much time was spent on each web page.
While this might sound off-putting, this knowledge can actually allow students to take the time to conscientiously view specific pages. Now is when we can start to tilt the game of gathering student data in your favor. If you are an athlete, spend some time exploring all webpages associated with your sport of interest. Students interested in scholarship opportunities and financial aid should take the time to explore the options available on the institution's website. If you are interested in a particular major or area of study, explore that department, the professors, and the research being conducted. Not only does this show active interest in your college experience, but it also will help you determine which schools are truly a good fit!
Insider Scoop: Other Tips to Demonstrate Interest
Submit student inquiry forms
Attend live/virtual information sessions
Attend live/virtual campus tours
Attend/engage in student panels
Communicate effectively with the office of admission (via phone or email)
Participate in "optional" interviews
Respond to "optional" writing supplements
Be articulate in the "why us?" supplemental essay responses
And always remember, it is important to be polite, ask thoughtful questions (ideally about information that can't easily be found on their website or via a quick Google search), and thank the college representative for their time!
Good luck (but I know you won't need it),
Independent College Counselor
Co-Founder of Virtual College Counselors