Demonstrating Interest in 2021
We’ve all done quite a bit of adapting in this past year. How you think about “demonstrating interest” to colleges is no different: in this post, we’ll take you through some ways that colleges have become more innovative in interacting with prospective applicants online, and give you some tips about making the most of these opportunities.
First, though, we should clarify what “demonstrated interest” means, since it can be a bit of a vague term in college admissions. Basically, demonstrated interest refers to any way you let a college know they are a priority for you. This can take many forms. Pre-COVID, you might have visited campus, or you might have attended a session with an admissions officer when they visited your school or city. These days, it’s more likely to be attending an online session or emailing your regional admissions representative with two or three well-informed questions. There are also some more unique ways of interacting, which we will get to in a second.
Before we do that, we can’t stress enough that the most important way to express demonstrated interest is to write a well-researched, enthusiastic “Why Us?” essay for the college in question. We hear this again and again from admissions representatives. When writing a “Why Us?” essay, make sure you’ve done your homework—from attending info sessions, to searching online through relevant department websites, to keeping track of a college’s social media, there are many ways to insure your “Why Us?” essay will stand out by showing your authentic interest. Check out our post on maximizing at-home college research here.
That being said, there are some other opportunities to keep in mind this year. These vary by college, so you’ll need to take a look at any school of interest’s Admissions Office home page to make sure. But it’s crucial to consider that, in years past, college admissions representatives would travel the country in advance of the admissions season, in part to inform students about their programs, but also in part to get a feel for students who are strongly interested in applying. This year, they are for the most part missing those points of connection. This means that admissions officers are (typically) more open than ever to your emailing them with informed questions. After a knock-it-out-of-the-park “Why Us?” essay, this is perhaps the best way to demonstrate interest. Keep a lookout for admissions officers who directly offer signups for a one-on-one Zoom session. Just make sure you’ve done solid research on the school before signing up!
Once you have a general sense of your priority schools, it will also pay off to keep a close eye on other opportunities they might offer for online interaction. Many schools are hosting live Q and A sessions, many will connect you with students studying in your area(s) of interest, and the inimitable Jeff Schiffman, Director of Admission at Tulane, will even work out with you! In other words, make sure you take a thorough look at any of the offerings at schools of interest—they are certainly hoping you will!