On Demonstrating Interest to Colleges

Demonstrated Interest, Interest Quotient, IQ in Admissions
It’s safe to assume that all colleges, with the exception of Harvard, are a little bit insecure and want to know that applicants will attend if admitted.

Is it important for applicants to demonstrate interest to colleges? You bet it is! Is there a right way and a wrong way to go about demonstrating interest? Yes. Do most applicants — who happen to be aware of the importance of Demonstrated Interest — go about demonstrating their love for schools in ways that don’t serve their cases for admission? Yes. In fact, an article up on “Forbes” which outlines the importance of Demonstrated Interest, presents some fallacies that we wish to correct.

In the piece up on “Forbes” by Nina Berler entitled “In College Admissions, Is It Important To Show Your Love?,” Berler writes how some schools — like Carnegie Mellon University — openly tout how they don’t factor in a student’s interest. As Berler explains, “Last summer, Carnegie Mellon made its policy on demonstrated interest very clear when it announced: ‘We do not consider demonstrated interest in our admission paradigm . . . we do not consider a campus visit or communication with the Office of Admission or other members of the Carnegie Mellon community when making admission decisions.'”

Assume All Colleges Care About Demonstrated Interest, Except Harvard

But why oh why is Berler taking these schools at their word? Many schools also tout that they’re need-blind, that they don’t factor in a student’s ability to pay when weighing their case for admission. Then why oh why do so many of these schools ask students if they’ll need financial aid on the very application that admissions officers can read with their own two eyes? Colleges aren’t always telling the truth. As a rule of thumb, assume that every college — with the exception of Harvard — cares about Demonstrated Interest. Every college has a little bit of insecurity. Every college wants to know that a student will actually matriculate if admitted. At Harvard, it’s safe to assume admissions officers strongly suspect you’ll come if admitted.

Not All Contact is Good Contact in Highly Selective College Admissions

And while Berler’s piece is otherwise well argued, she writes these examples as ways to demonstrate interest to colleges: “Filling out a card in the admissions office; Registering for a campus tour; Responding to or sending an email; Interacting with a college on social media; Submitting supplementary materials, links or videos.” She’s right about filling out the card at the admissions office and registering for a a tour (and information session too!). Submitting a good email can help but not just any email will do. Submitting links or videos? No, that’s not necessary; there’s an expression in highly selective college admissions that goes, “The thicker the file, the thicker the applicant.” And interacting with a school on social media? Writing comments to a post by a school’s admissions office on Facebook isn’t exactly going to improve your case for admission, sorry!

Make Effective Use of All Real Estate in Why College Essays

One of the very best and most effective ways to demonstrate interest is when a school — as they so often do — asks a version of: Why do you want to go here? Whether it’s a 650-word or 300-word essay, each sentence should be filled with specifics on the school and how you’re going to contribute to that school. If a sentence can apply to any school in America (e.g., “I value a strong liberal arts education.”), strike it from the record and make better use of the real estate you are given to demonstrate your genuine interest in that college. That school won’t believe you want to go there because of their liberal arts education when just about every elite university offers a liberal arts education. It’s obvious fluff and fluff should always be avoided.

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