You wouldn’t just walk through the halls and ask any random person to prom, would you? Probably not. And if you did, your chances at rejection would be pretty good. After all: Why should a hottie in the hall take a chance on you if you haven’t shown any interest?
Now think about that in terms of picking a college. Chances are, at least one admissions committee will have to pick between you and another student. But why should a hot college take a chance on you if you haven’t shown any interest in it?
Sure, you may have looked at a college’s Facebook page or visited campus to see a friend from high school. But until you’ve done some official communicating, a college has no idea you’re into it.
That’s why it’s important to show “demonstrated interest.”
What is demonstrated interest?
Nearly any kind of action that you initiate with a college counts as demonstrated interest. That includes sending back a reply card, calling admissions with a question, doing a campus visit or two or even attending a college fair and chatting with the rep.
Don’t be a stealth college admission application!
Admissions reps have a name for students who make no effort to communicate with a college, but then send their application to the school: “stealth applications.”
“So many kids come for a campus visit and stay the night with a friend from high school in the dorm, which is a great thing to do,” says Rick Clark, director or undergraduate admissions at Georgia Tech (admission.gatech.edu). “But take the time to swing by the admissions office and fill out a card. It can’t hurt them, but it can help them.”
Will showing interest help you get in?
It can. Admissions reps want to extend an offer to a student who will actually accept it. And if you’re tied with another student on everything else, demonstrating interest can swing the vote in your favor.
Why else is showing interest a good thing?
By responding to a college’s mail or interacting with an admissions rep at a college fair, you’re doing research to find your best college match. So even if your interaction results in a decision not to attend, you still benefit.
“If you can’t envision yourself there, it’s not worth going, no matter how prestigious the school may be,” Clark says.
Should you show your interest creatively?
Woody O’Cain, vice president for enrollment at Erskine College (erskine.edu) in Due West, S.C., has seen students show their interest in a college in many unique ways: videos of students talking about why they want to attend; food sent to admissions reps; a “top 10” list about why they should be admitted from the wait list.
“One student very cleverly used Photoshop to put a specific college T-shirt on her baby picture with the caption, ‘I’ve been dreaming of coming to your school for a long, long time…,’” O’Cain says.
Generally, those kind of admissions ploys are frowned upon. Especially at super-selective schools.
Impress admissions with your high school grades, activities and test scores instead. But O’Cain has a different opinion:
“I’ve been of the mindset that I would never criticize a student in their attempt to become part of my college community.”
6 ways to show a college you care
Interview with an alumni or rep on campus.
Take an official campus tour.
Attend a college fair or other information session sponsored by the college.
Respond to the college’s mail, or fill out reply cards requesting information.
Arrange to stay overnight on campus through the admissions office.
Chat with the student or admissions rep who calls or e-mails you.