Can showing a college how much you want to attend help your chances? Yes. For some colleges, it can seriously boost your odds.
Most admissions offices give some weight to "demonstrated interest," according to the National Association of College Admission Counseling. And many colleges give it considerable weight.
What Colleges Mean by "Demonstrated Interest"
Most colleges want to know how likely you are to attend if admitted. They gauge this likelihood by tracking your contact with the college and assessing the sincerity of your interest. The degree to which you "demonstrate" your interest can be a key admission factor for colleges that look beyond your grades and scores.
Bear in mind that demonstrated interest is less of a factor for highly selective colleges, who assume all applicants are highly interested in attending.
How to Show Your Interest
Make your interest very apparent in your visits, essays, and communications with admissions staff. Here are some specific ways to do this.
- Build a track record of consistent contact. From college fairs to campus visits to personal interviews, take each opportunity to talk with the college representative. Be sure to complete the contact card so the college sees how often you reached out. And send a thank-you note afterwards.
- Make your case in supplemental application essays. Many supplemental essay prompts ask you to explain why you want to attend that college. Even if the prompt doesn't do this, work your reasons into your answer.
- Show you've really researched the college. In your questions and essays, make it clear you took time to find out the basics about the college. For example, refer to something you read in the college's mission, faculty bios, or student newspaper.
- Apply early. Applying early, especially for an early decision, shows the college that you consider it a top choice. Just be sure to show your interest in other ways too, so they know you are serious about attending.
Tips for Making a Strong Case
- Connect with other college staff. For example, if a professor is impressed with your level of interest, he or she may let the admission office know. The same goes for people in charge of other programs such as sports, music, the student newspaper, ROTC, etc.
- Connect through social media. Many admission departments maintain blogs and Facebook pages. Become a follower, and ask serious questions that show your interest.
- List a favorite college first on the FAFSA. Some colleges want to know where they appear on the list of colleges you provide when you apply for financial aid using the FAFSA. If you have an absolute top choice, list it first. Otherwise list your colleges in alphabetical order so no college is a clear first choice.
- Don't bug admissions staff or use gimmicks. When you contact the college, ask serious questions that can't be answered on the college website. Don't send "props" with your application, such as a shoe to help you get "a foot in the door."
- Use College Match to look up a college and see how much weight it gives to the level of the applicant's interest. Look under the Admissions tab for "Selection of Students."
- Take a look at What Matters Most to Colleges to see other key factors in college admission.
- See Make Your College Applications Stand Out for more ways to show admission officers that you are right for their college.