How to Demonstrate Interest in a College

According to a NACAC study, about 50% of colleges claim that a student's demonstrated interest in the school is either highly or moderately important in the admissions process. But how exactly do you demonstrate interest? The list below presents some ways to tell a school that your interest is more than superficial.

Key Takeaways

  • Visiting a college's campus and doing an interview help you know the school better and are one of the best ways to demonstrate your interest in a school.
  • If asked to write a "Why our school?" type of supplemental essay, do your research and be specific. A generic response won't impress.
  • Applying Early Decision to a school is a strong way to demonstrate your interest and improve your chances of admission, but make sure the school is your clear first choice.
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Supplemental Essays

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Many colleges have an essay question that asks why you want to attend their school, and a lot of colleges that use The Common Application have a college-specific supplement. This is a great place to show your interest. Make sure your essay isn't generic. It should address the specific and unique features of the college that most appeal to you. Show that you've researched the college well and that you're a good match for the school, and be careful to avoid common supplemental essay mistakes.

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Campus Visits

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Most colleges keep track of who visits campus, and the campus visit is important for two reasons: not only does it demonstrate your interest, it also helps you get a better feel for the college. Campus visits help you choose a school, craft a focused essay, and perform well in an interview.

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College Interviews

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The interview is a great place to demonstrate your interest. Be sure to research the college well before the interview, and then use the interview to demonstrate your interest through both the questions you ask and those you answer so that you're well prepared and can avoid interview mistakes. If the interview is optional, you should probably plan to do it regardless.

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College Fairs

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If a college fair is in your area, stop by the booths of the colleges you are most interested in attending. Introduce yourself to the college representative and be sure to leave your name and contact information. You'll get on the college's mailing list, and many schools keep track of the fact that you visited the booth. Also, be sure to pick up the college rep's business card.

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Contacting Your Admissions Representative

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You don't want to pester the admissions office, but if you have a question or two about the college, call or email your admissions representative. Plan your call and craft your email carefully — you'll want to make a good impression. An email filled with grammatical errors and text-speak isn't going to work in your favor.

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Sending a Thank You Note

Hand Written Thank You Note
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If you chatted with a college representative at a fair, send an email message the next day to thank him or her for taking the time to talk with you. In the message, note one or two features of the college that appeal to you. Similarly, if you meet with a regional representative or interview on campus, send a follow-up thank you. You'll be demonstrating your interest as well as showing that you are a considerate person.

If you really want to impress, send an actual snail-mail note of appreciation.

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Requesting College Information

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You're likely to get a lot of college brochures without asking for them. Colleges work hard to get mailing lists of high school students who show promise. Don't rely on this passive approach to getting print materials, and don't depend entirely on a college's website for information. A short and polite email message requesting college information and application materials shows that you are actively interested in the school. It's flattering when a college reaches out to you, and it demonstrates interest on your part when you reach out to the college.

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Applying Early

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There is perhaps no better way to demonstrate interest than to apply to a college through an early decision program. This is for the simple reason that you can apply to just one school through early decision, and if accepted your decision is binding. Early decision should be used only if you are 100% sure that the college is your top choice. Realize that not all colleges offer early decision.

Early action also shows your interest, and through this admissions program, you are not bound to a single school. Early action does not demonstrate as high of a level of interest as early decision, but it does show that you care enough to get your application submitted early in the admissions cycle.

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A Final Word on Demonstrating Your Interest

Realize that there are many bad ways to demonstrate interest in a college. If your actions involve constantly writing to or calling your admissions representative, you may be doing more harm than good. Don't have your parents call the college, and don't send materials the school didn't ask for. You don't want your efforts to demonstrate your interest to make you appear desperate or like a stalker. Also, make sure your interest is sincere. Definitely don't apply to a school early decision if it isn't your first choice.

In general, it's easy to demonstrate your interest in a school that you are truly interested in attending. Chances are you want to visit the campus and do an interview, and you should put time and care into customizing all of your supplemental application essays.

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Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "How to Demonstrate Interest in a College." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Grove, Allen. (2023, April 5). How to Demonstrate Interest in a College. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "How to Demonstrate Interest in a College." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).