If you’ve read about tactics for improving your odds at college admissions, you may have heard the phrase “demonstrated interest.” What “demonstrated interest” means is your level of engagement and sincerity when researching and interacting with a school you may apply to. A school’s representatives specifically watch for this, as they are trying to gauge a prospect’s likelihood of actually enrolling if accepted. There are several ways to capitalize on demonstrated interest, and multiple opportunities.
The first thing that you can do to stand out from the typical flurry of admissions is to apply early. In addition to the normal window of time for admissions, there’s also an early-application period. Part of this window includes Early Decision and Early Action. When one applies for Early Decision, this automatically means that you will accept and enroll should admission be offered to you. This is very telling, as you are essentially assuring a particular school that they are your first choice. 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. Visiting a campus and picturing yourself there is an investment of time on your part, which brings me to the next point.
When an appealing school is not within easy traveling distance and you can only devote yourself to visiting your top institutions, something you can do is attend a local college fair or information session. Most schools, if not all, hold various events throughout the country and the school year. Seeking out a particular school at a fair shows the representatives that you have planned to speak to them.
One other thing you can do to make yourself visible and memorable to a school representative or admissions officer is to engage with them in conversation. While they are certainly able to answer your generic questions about their course offerings, their campus, their local community, etc., they will gladly answer your more personalized questions regarding how a particular program may be a good fit for you, or any other questions you may have regarding their school and how you would do well there.
Each of these tactics will help you stand out to the representatives and admissions officers. Your biggest advantage is to be memorable. Consider that officers read application essays for between 8-10 hours per day during application season; set yourself apart from the paper.