Finding a college is a bit like finding a date to homecoming. You are both trying to get to know each other and size up your chances. Scoping each other out online, liking a post on Instagram, talking to friends, going on a “group date” (aka a college tour). You want to apply to colleges that you like and where you have a reasonable chance of being admitted. Colleges want to admit students who have shown they are interested enrolling. Demonstrating interest tells the college you may want to enroll at their school, which can make you a more attractive applicant. So how do you demonstrate interest?
Visit the school website and create a prospective student account. Your student account is the first indication to the university that you are interested. And it will likely be where you receive communications and updates if you decide to apply. You can also do things like follow the college on Instagram or Facebook, like or comment on their posts, chat online with students or admissions staff, etc.
Admissions reps spend the fall traveling the country to visit high schools and promote their college. Check your school calendar for dates/times of college visits. Mark these on your calendar. Research the college before you go to the meeting. Have 5 questions to ask the college representative.
Check for college fairs in your area. Some college fairs have hundreds of college representatives attending. It’s a great chance to explore lots of colleges in one place. Some of the most popular college fairs are:
- NACAC college fairs. These large college fairs occur in both fall and spring.
- Colleges That Change Lives. These fairs showcase small liberal arts colleges (based on the book Colleges That Change Lives.)
Ask your counselor about other college fairs in your area and attend with your parents if possible. They have questions too!
If you talk with a representative from a college on your list, send them a follow-up email. You can start with “Hi! We met at XYZ event. Thank you for answering my questions! There’s one thing I forgot to ask…” This reminds the admission rep of who you are and what you’re interested in. They may remember that when reading your application.
Visit the College
This is probably the pinnacle of demonstrating interest. If possible, visit the colleges that are high on your list. It can be for a tour or an open house – but be sure the school knows you are there (don’t just drive through on a Sunday afternoon). Visiting a college earns you many “points” for demonstrated interest because it shows you are seriously considering that college. Plus, visiting will give you a strong sense of whether the college is the right fit.
All of these points of contact – from creating an online account to visiting the school – tell the college that you want to apply and enroll. This is demonstrated interest. Some colleges even take this into account when they are making their decision and may be more likely (by a small margin) to admit someone who has “demonstrated interest”.
For each college you plan to apply to, take some of the steps above to show your interest. In GuidedPath:
- Set up tasks to remind you of college fairs, college visits, or other upcoming events.
- Use the discussions feature to record your notes on each college.