There is so much attention given to the agonizing process of waiting and wondering “will I be offered admission to my top college" once students submit their application that we forget once the acceptances are sent out, the shoe is now on the other foot. It then becomes the colleges' turn to wait and wonder: “will the student accept our admissions offer?”.
I find it ironic that this is going on during prom invite season, when the same sort of scenario is being played out and teens all over are wondering: “how do I know if I ask this person, that they will want to go with me?".
While some people know for sure the person they’re asking wants to go with them, there are others who look for clues and any indications of interest that will help them feel more secure that the answer will be a resounding YES!
Well, guess what? Colleges do the same thing!
In the world of college admissions, this is called demonstrated interest.
It’s like employing the strategy of having your best friend ask your intended date “If John asks you to prom, will you go?” And there are many ways for colleges to ask you this question, as discussed in this video.
There are colleges that are very up front about how important this is to them and that they welcome and encourage demonstrated interest.
But other colleges are much more stealth in their approach. They’re like the person who looks for clues that you’ll say yes to the prom – checking your social media for mentions of them or asking friends of friends if they’ve talked about you.
It’s important to know that large universities like the University of California system, or large state universities like University of Michigan that seem to big to notice actually employ companies that track whether you’ve opened an email they’ve sent you or stopped by to visit their booth at a college fair. In fact, that’s one more reason why checking every college on the UC or Cal State application can work against you.
Colleges also notice if you live nearby and haven’t toured their college or visited with the admissions office by the time you apply.
The great news is that some of the best ways to demonstrate interest are also the best ways to learn more about the college to see if it is somewhere you’d be “interested” in applying to:
1. Email the college for more information. If it’s a college you’re interested in learning more about, it definitely makes sense you’d want to find out more about them, right? So if you aren’t able to visit and they aren’t planning to visit your high school, contact them.
2. Tour your local colleges. Especially if it’s early in the process. You may not want to stay close to home, but visiting your local colleges are a cost-effective way to learn more about what you like and don’t like in a college and if it ends up being on your list to apply to, you’re set!
3. Opt-in for receiving information from colleges on the PSAT – and then click on the emails of the colleges that sound interesting! If the email load gets too overwhelming, use one email address for the PSAT and create another one for the colleges you’re more interesting in following up with.
The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to articulate on your application what you like about the college and why you want to go there. You’re telling them that you love them. And showing your demonstrated interest lets the colleges know that you really mean it!