We all know that admissions officials at colleges are the gatekeepers to entry for hopeful teens.
Of course they’re going to be looking for an impressive GPA, good test scores and glowing letters of recommendation from each student. But there are other things your teen can do to stand out that other students might not be doing.
With thousands of students clamoring to get in, what’s a student to do to get noticed?
The application process isn’t just an unknown for your teenager – it’s risky for schools, too. When colleges decide which students they’re sending offers of admissions to in order to fill up the freshman class, they typically want to have some certainty that the students they’re admitting are actually going to accept. They’ve got quotas to fill.
Demonstrated interest is used to make decisions for admissions.
What is ‘demonstrated interest?’
Demonstrated interest is the term used for the number of documented “touches” a student has with a particular college. Essentially, many admissions offices open a file for a prospective students upon them reaching out for the first time in some way. That’s how they “demonstrate” that they’re interested in attending the school. Each time a student connects with the school, that’s recorded.
Admissions officers look very fondly upon students who have connected with the college to show interest in the past. This helps them decide where to focus recruitment efforts. It signals to them who really wants to attend their school over the others that students are also applying to.
How can my teen show demonstrated interest in a college?
In order for the college to open a file in your teen’s name to track interest, make sure each contact is documented. Information cards are often the best way to do this; most admissions reps will have these.
Here’s how your teenager can demonstrate interest in specific colleges:
Attend an Admissions Presentation
Most high schools will have college representatives present information about their school, admissions requirements, etc. during the school year. Your teenager should approach any colleges she’s interested in attending in order to ask pertinent questions and complete an information card for the rep to bring back to the school.
Attend College Fairs
College fairs are so important for your teen to attend to learn about schools that might interest her. While there, she should introduce herself to the admissions rep at the booths of the colleges she’s considering and complete an information form there.
In my opinion, the very best way to get a sense of what a college is all about and to demonstrate great interest is to plan a visit and a tour of college campuses. Your teenager’s making an effort to plan and travel to that location – it looks good. The tour guide and admissions office will note your teen’s involvement here.
Interview with an Admissions Representative
While visiting a campus, encourage your teenager to take advantage of the time by asking for an interview with an admissions official. Few students take the initiative to do this, and so it definitely stands out as an above-and-beyond touchpoint to the college.
Send Thank You Notes
Nowadays it’s a rarity for folks to send or receive thank you cards. Any time your teenager meets with an official who represents a college, it’s to her advantage to follow up with a thank you card or letter to show appreciation for the meeting and enthusiasm for the possibility of attending the school. An email’s OK, too (just a little less impressive).
Just be careful about waxing poetic and being overly enthusiastic in that communication to prevent the eye-rolling of the admissions officer.
Applying early to a college through Early Action or, even better, Early Decision, shows that you consider it a top choice and that you have a high probability of attending. This can be very beneficial, just as long as your teen has a clear preference for one school over others.
If two students have identical applications, it makes sense that showing interest in a school will help one student get in over the other. Making sure your teenager shows each college that she’s serious about attending will go a long way toward outshining the competition who hasn’t taken these steps!
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Let’s continue the conversation! What tips do you have to make the most out of college visits? Leave a comment below.