Founder & College Consultant
Access Success LLC
During the pre-COVID-19 era, colleges and universities tracked a prospective applicant's interest in their school a few different ways. Every school has its own database that tracks a student's interaction with the school. For example, colleges track whether or not you've visited the campus, when, and how often. They also track the events you registered for and attended, such as an open house, an admission information session, or an official campus tour. Admission representatives keep tabs on who they meet with at local college fairs and when visiting high schools. All this contributes to “demonstrated interest,” which could help tip the scales in your favor when it comes time to apply to colleges
When campuses closed because of COVID-19, these ways of tracking student interest became unattainable, so colleges compensated by tracking website traffic even more. They can see who's accessed their website, how often, and what pages students have visited. And while admission offices have always tracked whether or not you're opening their emails and how often—as well as whether or not you follow them on social media—these avenues are now more important since other forms of tracking interest haven’t been available in the past year.
My recommendation for demonstrating your interest in a college these days is to visit the school's website and take advantage of virtual tours and webinars. Follow the school on Facebook, Instagram, or other social platforms. Open every email you receive—multiple times! Stay in contact with your admission counselor via email. And as some schools are beginning to re-open their campuses to prospective students for in-person tours, physically visit the school and meet with an admission officer, a coach, or a professor. All of these things will go a long way in showing a college or university that you're truly interested in what they have to offer.
For more expert advice on getting into college, check out our College Admission—Ask the Experts section.