If you’ve read about tactics for improving your odds in college admission, you may have heard the phrase “demonstrated interest.” What it means is your level of engagement and sincerity when researching and interacting with a school you may apply to. A college’s representatives specifically look out for this as they gauge a prospect’s likelihood of actually enrolling if accepted. There are several ways to capitalize on demonstrated interest and multiple opportunities to do so. Here are just a few.
The first thing you can do to show your interest in a college and stand out from the flurry of students is to apply early. In addition to the normal window of time for admission, there’s also an early application period. Part of this window includes Early Decision and Early Action. When you apply for Early Decision, this automatically means you will accept and enroll should you be offered admission. This is very telling, as you are essentially assuring a particular school that they are your first choice. On the other hand, Early Action is non-binding, meaning you are not committed to a particular college by applying early.
Another way to demonstrate your interest is to tour the university. This may sound obvious, but it’s not always practical when a school is across the country or perhaps across the globe. However, it's absolutely worth it if you're able. Ask the college if they offer visit scholarships or fly-in programs, which can help with costs. Visiting a campus and picturing yourself there is a big investment of time on your part, which brings me to my next point…
When an appealing school isn't within easy travel distance and you can only devote yourself to visiting your top picks, an alternative is to attend a local college fair or information session. Most schools (if not all) hold various events throughout the country and school year. Seeking out a particular school at a fair shows admission representatives that you've planned to speak to them and have made an effort to show your interest in their institution.
At a college fair, campus visit, or any other event, you'll want to make yourself visible and memorable to a school representative or admission officer by engaging with them in conversation. While they're certainly able to answer your generic questions about their course offerings, campus, the local community, etc., they will gladly answer more personalized questions regarding how a particular program may be a good fit for you and how well you would fit in on campus.
Each of these tactics will help you stand out to college representatives and admission officers. Consider that admission committees read application essays for eight to 10 hours per day during application season. Your biggest advantage is to be memorable, so set yourself apart from the paper by demonstrating your interest in their institution.
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