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Demonstrating Interest

Admissions offices often track your interactions with them in order to understand how excited (or not) you are to attend their college. While there is such a thing as too much contact, it often helps your chances of being admitted when you strategically interact with each school to show you care. Demonstrating interest is just your way of saying to a college or university, “I really would like to be student at your school.”

Here are a few ways to demonstrate interest to a college during sophomore, junior, or senior year:

  • Join the admissions mailing list – Even if you are already receiving snail mail or emails from schools (likely a result of your participation in the PSAT), take two minutes to go to the school’s admissions website or call the admissions office to add your name to the list.
  • Complete a contact card at a college fair – Many schools, local organizations, and communities host college fairs where they invite dozens-–if not hundreds-–of colleges to set up tables and talk with students and families interested in their institution.  Be sure to complete a contact card at the table so that the school has a record of you stopping by and grab a business card of the representative at the table so you can follow up to thank him/her after the event.
  • Meet with college representatives – Most admissions officers travel in the fall to promote their institutions by hosting information sessions in high schools around the country.  Check with your guidance/college counselor or call the admissions office to see if a representative from your college of interest may be visiting your high school, visiting another school in your area, or hosting an event at a local hotel or community center that you can attend. 
  • Correspond with an admissions counselor – Most colleges list on their admissions websites the staff assignments for the geographic territories that they cover, as well as their contact information.  If the information is not readily available on the website, feel free to call the admissions office to find out the name and email address of the person who will be reading your application.  Asking specific questions about things like academic programs, campus life, or the application process help you to collect pertinent information while communicating your interest to the admissions professional.  Be careful not to overuse this option, however-–the quality of your interactions is more important than the quantity!
  • Email a professor – Often overlooked as a way to demonstrate interest in a school, reaching out to academic faculty in your areas of interest is a nice way to learn more about the curricular offerings while also indicating to the college that you are serious about pursuing your academics at their institution.  In fact, asking for the contact information for a specific professor or department chair is a great question to ask an admissions counselor (see section above).  In some cases, faculty members share feedback with the admissions office about students about whom they are particularly excited or might even sit on admissions committees to provide input on decisions.
  • Visit campus – The best way to determine if you see yourself on a campus is to physically experience the campus.  Visiting schools (College Checklist courtesy of helps you to move beyond the glossy admissions brochures and fancy websites to get a real feel for the campus and its student body.  Colleges understand that it is challenging for students to make the financial commitment to travel to campus so you will certainly not be penalized if you can’t make an in-person visit. But you should be proactive about identifying fly-in programs or travel stipends for prospective applicants or admitted students offered by colleges on your list.  In addition to checking in with your school counselor about opportunities that they may hear about, don’t be afraid to call the admissions office and inquire about financial support for visits if you don’t see anything listed on their website.
  • Interview – Although it may officially be deemed “optional,” if a college offers the opportunity for an applicant to interview, you should take it!   Whether it takes place on campus with an admissions representative, in your community with a local alum, or via Skype, interviews are a wonderful way to make a personal connection with someone affiliated with the institution and share information about yourself that may not be captured on the application.  In fact, if an applicant does not take advantage of an opportunity to interview, their sincere interest in the school is likely to be called into question. 
  • Participate in online chats hosted by the college – In the digital age, many schools are turning to the internet to help with their recruitment efforts by hosting online chats for prospective students.  Usually these sessions offer students a chance to ask questions directly of admissions officers, current students, and even faculty members. 
  • Apply early Although discussed more in-depth in another section, applying by the early action  deadline helps colleges feel confident that you are genuinely interested in their school. Similarly, if a school offers a priority or rolling application deadline, the sooner you can submit your application, the better.