As you begin your college search, your college visits, and start thinking about college applications, you’re likely to hear about demonstrated interest. Usually that means that you show (demonstrate) the college your (genuine) interest in them.
Do Colleges Care?
There are 3 possible ways to consider this:
- Colleges don’t care at all
- Colleges want to know if you are interested
- Colleges track your every contact with them
All three are known to be true, but in very few cases can you be sure what that means. You will likely hear some guidance counselors and college reps belittle the necessity of this. “Oh, don’t worry; we don’t keep track of your visits or your interest; it’s not important to us at all!” In reality, I know of one school, the University of Dayton, that plainly states, “We track every connection you make with us!” Frankly, I thought they were joking, but they were not. So, how do you decide where to put your effort?
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Some universities get thousands more applications than they could ever admit or want, so they really don’t care if you’ve visited or shown your level of interest. They just want to admit people via the best grades and best scores per declared major. It would be a total waste of their time to be concerned with your true interest.
On the other hand, many colleges sincerely want to admit students who are a very good fit for their institution, just as you want to apply only to colleges that are a good fit for you! Many colleges also want to put their limited recruiting resources into the applicants who are genuine about their applications!
How Can You Demonstrate Interest?
So, what are the ways for a college to learn if an applicant is serious or is just “throwing spaghetti at the wall (to see if it will stick)”?
Well, one way is to note when a student has visited. Very few people make a formal visit to a campus if they just happen to be in the area, so a visit is a pretty good indicator of a student’s interest. But, is it fair to only consider a visit to be demonstrated interest? Of course not! Colleges are well aware that parents and students don’t have time or money to travel all across the country to visit. So, there are many other ways to anticipate a student’s sincere interest!
Ways to Engage
Here are a few:
a) if the student has taken the time to complete an inquiry (by internet or postcard)
b) if the student has written an email or made a phone call to the admissions office
c) if the student has met with an admissions representative at their high school
d) if the student has talked with an admissions representative at a college fair
e) if the student has engaged through Facebook, a text survey question, or any other technical connection.
Another Authority on the Subject
Dr. Ken Barnds of Augustana College has a lot to say on the topic, published recently in Huffington Post. I suggest you read his blog to hear an admissions administrator’s take on demonstrated interest!