Demonstrated interest. If you have been researching college admissions, chances are you’ve come across this term. Most schools add at least some weight to this application element. But what is it?
Colleges and universities are run like businesses: they must admit a certain number of students and take in a certain amount of tuition in order to run successfully. They don’t like to admit it, but institutions are first and foremost tuition driven. In an effort to increase their odds of making annual tuition goals, admissions officers look for students with demonstrated interest. Quite simply, these students are more likely to attend if offered a spot on campus.
This is more true than ever in today’s society, where schools are increasingly pushed to have strong rankings. And one important element in the ranking system is yield - or the number of students who decide to attend an institution once they have been offered admission. This number shows desirability to future applicants.
So, when you look at it from a business perspective, it makes sense that schools are more likely to admit students who have demonstrated interest over those who have not.
According to the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), 20% of schools consider demonstrated interest to be “very important” - the highest ranking in the survey. And 54% strongly value demonstrated interest, which is higher than letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and class rank.
Unfortunately for you, international applicant, U.S. students have an advantagein this area: proximity. Why? Because two common forms of demonstrated interest are the campus tour and the admissions interview. For obvious reasons, many international students are unable to engage in these activities.
But here are some things you CAN do…
1. Email your admissions officer. With very little sleuth-work, you should be able to find the admissions representative that covers your region. Email that person. Introduce yourself, explain your interest in the school, and ask some questions about academic programs or admissions processes. Do your research first so that you can show off what you already know about the institution. Also, keep it brief. Admissions officers don’t have time to read a novel. Once you get a response, follow up immediately with a thank you letter.
2. Sign up for school information. All university websites have a quick subscription page where you exchange your name and email for general school information. Do this. You will probably inundated with correspondence from the school, but make sure you open every one of their emails. Universities have ways of tracking whether their emails have been opened or not, and your “demonstrated interest” loses sincerity if you don’t bother to read them. To avoid being overwhelmed with university junk mail, consider opening an email account specifically for this process.
3. Follow universities on social media. Most schools have Facebook pages, twitter accounts, Reddit subreddits, etc. in order to engage with prospective students. Use this opportunity to learn more about a school and/or ask questions. It should go without saying, but be professional. Don’t be like this year’s Harvard admits who were caught posting inappropriate material and had their admissions rescinded. On that note, clean up your own social media accounts or open a new ones specifically for professional purposes.
4. Use your application essay(s) to your advantage. Your essay(s) and/or personal statements are ideal places to demonstrate interest. When admissions officers are reading your applications, you have their undivided attention. Work it.
5. Try to get an interview with a school representative. Although it (most likely) won’t be in person, some schools offer online interviews. Even if this isn’t a possibility, requesting one demonstrates interest.
So there you have it. Demonstrated interest is important. Luckily, displaying it as an international student isn’t too time consuming, and you’ll probably learn a lot about your schools along the way.