Quality vs. Quantity: Showing a quality “demonstrated interest” on your college application

Post By: COYD Staff

college admission strategiesEarlier this week we talked about demonstrated interest and why colleges are increasingly considering it an important factor in the admissions process. We also discussed how different schools preferred different ways that their applicants show demonstrated interest. Today we are going to discuss how to show quality interest for each of the 6 ways to show demonstrated interest that we discussed last week. Like I said before, it’s better to do half of them very well than all of them half as well. Before reading this post, I would highly recommend taking a look at Tuesday’s post so that you can fully understand why and how demonstrated interest can help you with your chances of getting into the college of your dreams.

1. Campus Visits

Campus visits can both directly and indirectly show demonstrated interest in the school. When you visit the campus, make sure to visit the admissions office and/or meet a faculty member. Make sure to call ahead before you visit so you can meet as many people and do as many things as possible when you are there. This is a direct way to show demonstrated interest.

Another, indirect way is to use your experience of visiting the college in your essay and interview. The more detailed and specific you get, the more the admissions officer knows that you KNOW the college and you have actively researched the university before making the decision to apply.

For more information on how to get the most out of your campus visit, go to the post titled What to do when you are on a college visit.

2. Interviews

If you are not prepared for an interview and you don’t know specific details about a school, you probably don’t want to do an interview. I would highly recommend an interview only if you think you can show enthusiasm and passion for the school. Face to face interviews can show a student’s sincerity and, on the flip side, his/her insincerity. If you don’t clearly know why you want to attend a college, I would not recommend an interview.

In August, we did a series on College Interviews. If you are interested in scheduling a college interview, go to this series to learn how you can have the most effective interview.

3. Applying Early

Obviously, this is a great way to show demonstrated interest. Early decision is probably the best way because early decision binds you to that one school to which you applied. However, I would not recommend early decision or early action if you are not prepared to apply early. Though the acceptance rates are higher in early decision/early action, the applicant pool is usually more competitive. If you need your senior year’s grades to make up for any lower grades during the rest of your high school career, utilize that last semester and apply regular decision. To see the pros and cons of applying early, click here for more information.

4. Content of essays

Like a college interview, when you show demonstrated interest, the more details the better. The Why Did you Choose to Apply to this college is a common essay question on many college applications. For tips on how to tackle this question, click here for that post.

5. Face-time with representatives at a college fair

Usually students attend college fairs early on in the admissions process. Use this time to ask specific questions and develop an initial repoire with the representative. The representatives at the college fair are usually there to meet many students so be aware of your surroundings. You should know when to say goodbye and let the next student have their turn. Also, be confident when you approach them and prepare 1-2 questions to ask them before you approach them at their booth.

6. Sending a thank-you note after an interview

Keep it short and professional with a bit of a personal touch. Yes, those words seem contradictory, but striking a balance between professional and personal for any short thank you note is the key to its effectiveness. Most likely your college interview will be more personal than a job interview. In the interview, try to find out something personal about the interviewer, like a trip they are going to take or an event they are going to attend, and mention that in your note. Remembering that detail and mentioning it in the note will create a longer lasting impression than a generic thank you note.

Also, the appearance of the note is important. Don’t scribble something on a yellow pad, tear it off and send it in an ugly white envelope. Be smart about your note, or else don’t send one at all. I would recommend the “better safe than sorry” approach. For example, you might have a jokester as an interviewer. That doesn’t give you the full liberty to send an outrageous card to the interviewer. Some interviewers will like the funny card. Others might not, even though they joked around in the interview. If you have any doubt that the interviewer might be offended by the card, don’t send it.

As a rule of thumb, for all of these ways to show demonstrated interest you must be prepared, be sincere, and put yourself in the shoes of the admissions officer. If someone was trying to demonstrate their interest in you, how would you want them to show it?


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