College Applications and Demonstrated Interest: Twitter, Facebook & Instagram: A Whole New World!
High school seniors, you are in the midst of college application season. You are requesting recommendation letters, finishing personal statements and sending in early applications. Bravo. This is a tough process and you are to be commended for being starting early.
Just add one more thing to your to do list this fall: to ensure that your target schools remain interested in you, you might need to demonstrate interest in those schools.
The Common Application has made it easy for many colleges to get more applicants than they can reasonably handle or admit. To winnow down the applicant pool, some schools track how often and how well students interact with the college. This interaction is known as demonstrated interest. Those colleges then focus their attention on those applicants who have expressed the most sincere interest in their school.
You may argue over whether this is fair to students, but schools are using demonstrated interest as an admissions tool and you should be aware that they are doing so.
There are many old school ways to demonstrate interest: call or go to the website and ask the admissions office to mail their materials to you; visit the school’s table at a high school college fair and scan their QR Code with your cell phone or fill out the school’s information; visit campus for a tour or interview and be sure to sign in with the admissions office; write a handwritten thank you note after meeting an admissions officer, student tour guide or professor. If you attend any event, be sure to sign in with the admissions office or fill out an information card for the school.
There are also “optional” ways to demonstrate interest. In this case, optional really means: “if you care enough about our school, this step is required”. If a school says certain test scores, recommendations or personal statements are optional, translate the word “optional” to mean required. Just do it.
Technology makes it easy to express interest while getting up to date information: follow the admissions office on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Scan the school’s QR Code with your cell phone. Give the Admissions Office your email and cell phone number. In addition to demonstrating interest, you will be able to see, in real time, when the admissions office opens applications, visits high schools and sends out decisions. The school will be able to email and text you directly. You will be instantly reachable and the school will put this information to use right away on your application.
Some schools are very clear that they do not want calls, letters or extra demonstrations of interest. Read each college’s materials and website carefully and comply with their wishes. Do not send extra information that they explicitly state that they do not want.
Some schools track your interest, but state that it has no effect on admissions decisions, normally.
Other schools want to see demonstrated interest: Rhodes College, in an interview in Inside Higher Ed described writing to students who had applied, without showing any other interest and telling them that if they did a Skype interview or visited the campus, they would be admitted on the spot. In 2013, 17 of approximately 400 students responded, enabling Rhodes to focus on the 17 students who were interested.
According to Jodi Walder-Biesanz, founder of Portland, Oregon-based College Admission Coach LLC “One way to look up whether or not a college considers demonstrated interest: go to collegedata.com. Type the name of the school in the search bar. Click on the school name in the results. Click on the “Admission” tab. Scroll down to the heading “Selection of Students”. Look at the line “Level of Applicant’s Interest” in order to understand whether or not demonstrated interest is a factor at that school.”
Don’t spend too much time worrying about demonstrating interest; just pay attention to details and you will be right on target. Follow all application instructions to a T. Write a polished personal statement. Write thank you notes after interviews, follow admissions offices on social media and visit schools that you really want to attend. Above all, if you are genuinely intersected, keep in mind that a well written, proofread application, submitted early, is the best expression of interest.