Demonstrating Interest

Spring break is the traditional time for college tours and there is nothing better than walking around a campus, sitting in an actual class, listening to students in the cafeteria and speaking with professors to give a prospective student a real sense of what that college is all about.  But to today’s college admissions landscape, the campus visit is also the most important way to show “demonstrated interest.” 

These days, more and more colleges are placing greater weight on “demonstrated interest” as they review applications.  Colleges want to see and hear why  a prospective student wants to attend. An applicant must prove why a particular college is such a good fit for him/her so students must 'demonstrate' their 'interest' in a personal way.

So how exactly can students show their interest?

Demonstrating interest:  The insights, impressions, recollections a student feels on a college visit are crucial to expressing substantive interest.  The more personal details a student includes in an essay or email, the more genuine that student's interest becomes. It's almost as if the prospective student needs to gather firm evidence to make a solid case to support his/her desire to attend. The application alone is not enough anymore.

But demonstrated interest can also include joining the mailing list on the college's website, ‘liking’ a college on Facebook, or reading student (or Admissions) blogs on the school website.  The more engaged a prospective student becomes with a college, the better.  Of course, the ultimate best way to show how much a student wants to attend a given school is to apply Early Decision.

A recent Forbes article reports that colleges are using data mining including tracking email open rates, link clicks, website visits, and social media engagement to gauge interest on the part of prospective students.  Colleges use these data to track the applicant’s enthusiasm about a particular school.  For many colleges, particularly smaller ones, demonstrated interest can be a predictor of yield - the likelihood that students will attend the college if they are accepted.

“As the admissions process becomes more digital, it makes sense that data analytics would play an increasing role in the admissions office determining the depth of a student’s interest,” says Peter Zimmermann, a past Stanford admissions official quoted in the article.  Yet, many colleges don’t like to bring attention to how much data analysis they’re really doing. 

“Because colleges are not transparent about their use of data mining,” the piece goes on to say, “applicants may want to err on the side of caution. Demonstrate your interest to the college through all avenues; you never know how or when they are tracking your interest but they very well could be.”