While students can’t go back and change their grades or test scores there is a very powerful element of the college admissions process called “demonstrated interest” that they can leverage. Demonstrated interest can be achieved by attending an information session on campus or sending a thank you letter after an admissions interview. While the importance of demonstrated interested varies between schools, recent trends show that it is becoming an increasingly important part of the college application process.
A report put out by the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that the percentage of colleges rating demonstrated interest as a “considerably important factor” increased from 7 percent to 21 percent from 2003 to 2006. It’s held steady at about 20 percent since that time. In 2008, the last year data were available, that 20 percent made demonstrated interest more important than class rank and the interview.
Schools want students who show a genuine interest in them. Admissions officials know that students apply to several schools and they like to admit students that want to attend their respective schools. For many of these schools demonstrated interest can separate the pretenders from the contenders.
Unfortunately, many of the most selective schools in the country have extraordinary high yields (the percentage of admitted students that attend the college) and as a result don’t value demonstrated interest as much. However, I have witnessed demonstrated interest working at one of the most selective schools in the country. The student was interested in chemistry and so he contacted a professor who taught an interesting chemistry course. The student was able to meet the professor and after the meeting the professor offered the student a summer internship as well as a potential letter of recommendation. Needless to say, the student was accepted into this elite institution and was able to have an amazing summer experience working in a college level chemistry lab.
Get creative and reach out to professors at the schools you want to attend. It can only help you in your quest to find the right college and might even give you a leg up on admissions.
27 Sep 2010 1:51 PM