As college admit rates fall at most top colleges, and the number of applicants rise, it is more important than ever for students to take control of factors that they can control in the admission process. One aspect that is increasingly important is demonstrated interest.
When you begin to narrow down your college list, you should note factors of greatest importance to each college in making admission decisions. Most schools indicate whether or not they take demonstrated interest into consideration on their website. If interest weighs heavily in importance, place the school at the top of your list to visit and show interest in multiple ways. Make the effort to ask (intelligent) questions, register for a campus visit, take a virtual tour, get familiar with your admissions representative and attend one of their college-sponsored regional events near you. These actions show that you are a sharp, pro-active and thoughtful individual.
Other ways to demonstrate interest include visiting the school at a college fair, opening and perusing each email sent to you and following a college on social media. Although time-consuming to express interest in each one of these ways, taking the time to do what you can do will likely impact your admission decision.
When interacting with an admissions rep in person, via phone or email, it is important to ask specific questions. Avoid asking a question, if the answer can be found easily on a school’s website. Also, ask questions unique to you. If you are interested in pursuing a double-major, ask the admissions counselor how doing so would impact your workload and inquire about resources within the university dedicated to guiding students with multiple interests. Start a conversation that proves that you have done prior research on a specific program. The interaction is likely to be far more rewarding and productive, if you prepare!
Signing up for an interview with an admissions representative or alumnus can further prove your sincere interest. A quick Google search or information on your applicant portal can inform you about whether applicant interviews are offered by the university and if they are offered on campus, via Skype or in your local area. Interviews give you a unique ability to interact with a college rep one-on-one. Make the most of this opportunity! I advise each student to prepare for the interview by deciding what personal attributes you want most to show and prepare responses that convey those qualities without explicitly stating so. For example, if you are asked about your favorite extracurricular activity and your response is soccer, be sure to elaborate how the activity has shaped your high school experience, weaving into the response information that clearly shows qualities you want the interviewer to take away (e.g. leadership or team-building). Although you can’t predict or control each aspect of an interview, be sure you are punctual, polite and polished.
While on campus for a tour or later for an interview, be sure to get the most out of your college visit by planning to do these four things, which will help you decide if a college is the best fit for you.