Demonstrated Interest: A Primer
By Thomas Broderick
Believe it or not, getting into your dream college has a lot in common with getting your future dream job. Yes, both have the word ‘dream’ in the title, but the similarities go deeper than that. You see, the people who get into their dream college/get their dream job show demonstrated interest. In other words, they do more than the bare minimum – applying.
In this article, we’ll take a look at demonstrated interested: what it is and how to use it to your advantage during next year’s college admission season.
So, What Is Demonstrated Interest?
As the name suggests, demonstrated interest is when you go the extra mile to show a college that it’s your first choice. The trick, however, is doing so without becoming annoying and making the college admission counselor think less of you. We’ll discuss how to not be annoying in a bit.
And you don’t want that happening, do you?
Your goal, on the other hand, is to leave a positive impression on the admission department before (or during) the time when they consider your application portfolio. How do you do that? Let’s find out.
What Does Demonstrated Interest Look Like?
Let’s start with an easy one.
Take the Tour
Taking the tour is one of the easiest things you can do to show demonstrated interest. No, you likely won’t come into contact with any higher-ups in the admission department, but the experience can benefit you in a few ways.
- Your Personal Essay: The personal essay is a great way to bring up the fact you took the tour and “just fell in love” with the campus and what the student tour guide told you about the academic and social experience.
- Write a Thank You Note: When you get back home from your tour, consider writing a brief thank you note to the head of the admission department. Talk about “how helpful” the guide was and that “your school is now one of my top picks.” In other words, it never hurts to butter them up.
If you can’t take the tour for whatever reason, it always pays to send a note to one of the admissions counselors. Ask a question or two and tell them a bit about yourself. Like any good cover letter, don’t let it go over 250 words.
Not many colleges perform interviews these days, especially for undergraduates. If they do, that is an opportunity you need to jump on (if you can). If the school is hundreds or thousands of miles away, it doesn’t make sense to commit time and money to make the trip, especially if you’re on a budget. But if it’s a day trip in the car, don’t miss this critical opportunity. Here’s some specific advice, much of it applicable to the jobs interviews a few years in your future:
- Dress for the school you want: When you go to your interview, it pays to dress up. How dressed up? Without going into too much detail, Google ‘business casual.’ That seems to be the sweet spot.
- Have some questions ready: In all interviews, there always comes a point when the interviewer turns the tables and asks, “do you have any questions for me?” To leave an impression, you need to have a question or two up your sleeve. Fortunately for you, you can think up questions in advance, and if one should come to mind during the interview, that’s even better. Your questions show demonstrated interest and leave an impression in your interviewer’s mind. And who knows, your interviewer may be the person who has the final say over your application.
How to Not Be Annoying
This is going to be a relatively short section despite the topic’s importance. Again, let’s take a page out of the “how to get a job” playbook:
- Be yourself: A truism if there ever was one, but be yourself is still the best advice there is. However, a better way to put it would be ‘be genuine.’ Sounds nicer, doesn’t it? In other words, the effort it takes to try to be someone else is exhausting, and if you mess it up, the person on the other end loses trust in you.
- Don’t lie: Applying to college isn’t applying for a security clearance; plenty of people have fibbed about their accomplishments, like how long they participated in an extracurricular activity and gotten away with it. HOWEVER, lying is annoying and demonstrates an immaturity that no college admission counselor wants to see.
- Avoid the Temptation to Pester: First off, there’s a big difference between pestering and asking relevant questions. For example, if a college says they will let you know when all of your application materials arrive and then you hear nothing, by all means, write them emails until you get a reply. But beyond that, avoid contacting admission counselors, especially if you think of something that would ‘enhance’ your application.
- Your application is your one and only opportunity to shine. Sorry. That’s the way it is.
Demonstrated interest shows initiative and if done right, proves to a school that you’re committed. As long as you’re not annoying, whatever you do is sure to have a positive effect.