Rachel Hertzberg
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Admissions Insight
School Selection
11th Grade Junior Year
12th Grade Senior Year

Demonstrated interest is a term that has gained a lot of popularity in the competitive college process. Simply put, demonstrated interest consists of any interaction you have with the college outside of the official application requirements. Demonstrated interest shows that you are curious about the school and have the motivation to investigate more. You want to present yourself a serious candidate for admission, not someone just applying on a whim. As a high schooler, you spend most of your time trying to get colleges to like you—but you will have to remember to show that you are interested in them as well.

Especially at selective schools, colleges want to keep their acceptance numbers as low as possible. This means that they don’t want to waste their time or resources accepting students who have no intention of enrolling. You need to stand out of the crowd and let schools know that you are invested in your application, and excited to attend this particular college. Demonstrated interest alone won’t make or break your application, but it can help make the difference between two qualified students. There are many ways you can demonstrate interest, and this article will highlight just a few. You will have to determine which methods make the most sense for your situation.

College visits:

Visiting campus will give you a feel for the school’s culture and student body, and also is one of the most significant ways you can let a college know you are interested. Most commonly, highs school students visit colleges during the spring of junior year or fall of senior year. Since this might require significant traveling, it might be easier to visit local schools, and schedule visits to schools in other areas during your spring, summer, or fall vacation. It’s best to visit a college while classes are in session, in order to get a realistic sense of campus life. If that isn’t possible for you, don’t worry. You can still schedule tours at many schools during the summer and demonstrate interest that way.

Depending on when and where you are visiting, there will be several options for activities. You should take a tour of the campus and prepare questions to ask your guide. This is an opportunity to speak with a student and get an inside look at the school. You should also look into sitting in on a class that aligns with your interest area, scheduling an interview with an admissions officer, or attending any panels or talks that the college may have planned. Do your research ahead of time and come prepared to make a great first impression. Admissions offices do keep track of your attendance at all of these types of events.

College Fairs:

Your first college fair can be pretty overwhelming. You will enter a large room full of representatives from various schools. It will probably be noisy and crowded. Don’t panic! With a little confidence and lots of preparation, attending college fairs will help you learn more about colleges and make a genuine connection with admissions representatives. You will most likely be able to access a list ahead of time to find out what schools will be at the fair. From this list, decide which you are most interested in, and make it your goal to visit each of these booths. This will help you feel more organized and efficient.

At each booth you visit, you will want to introduce yourself to the admissions representative. Offer a handshake and then clearly state your name, grade, high school, and a little bit about what draws you to this college. Sign up for their email list so you can keep track of any future information—this will also demonstrate interest and get you on the college’s radar. Even small things like email list sign ups do show that you are engaged with the process.

As with the college visit, you should prepare questions beforehand. Do you want to know more about the school’s debate club or its new theater facilities? Was there something on the admissions website that confused you? This is your chance to get those nitty-gritty questions answered. It also gives the college’s representative a better idea of your personality and passions. Don’t forget to take brochures and other materials to read later, and help you remember what you learned at the fair.

Off campus interviews:

If you’re not able to visit a campus in person but still want to show your interest in the school, set up an interview off campus. Schools with large alumni networks will generally offer interviews in many major cities. All interviews can be anxiety-provoking, but remember that your interviewer isn’t here to make judgments of you or ask impossible questions. Generally, your interviewer will be alumni or a member of the school community who is excited to meet you and find out more about you. Treat your interview like a conversation, and try to show off your accomplishments and personality. As always, you should come to your interview prepared with some questions to ask at the end. Tailor these questions for a  specific situation. For example, you can ask your interviewer what the institution was like when they attended, or how their educational experience shaped their later career path.

Like many qualitative measures, demonstrated interest can be tricky to understand at first. But as long as you are truly applying to schools that are a good fit and that you would be pleased to attend, there’s no need to be concerned about it. Demonstrated interest is another way to help your personal qualities shine during the application process. Don’t be afraid to get out there!

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