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Why And How: Demonstrating Interest To A College

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

As more people gain access to an undergraduate education, universities have received a record high number of applications. Amongst this crowd of prospective students, it becomes extremely important for one to stand out and demonstrate an interest in the colleges they truly want to attend. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling report, 60% of colleges track student interest and 20% of colleges assign “considerable importance” to demonstrated interest during admissions. Hence, while some colleges, such as MIT, may not give demonstrated interest any importance, it is helpful to demonstrate an interest in other colleges such as Syracuse University, Boston University and UMass Amherst, who consider it important in their admissions process.

Connect on Social Media

The best place to start would be to follow your favourite universities on their social media pages, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also sign up on their mailing list to receive relevant emails from the colleges. These emails often contain updates about upcoming sessions as well as important information related to admissions like the application timelines, courses they offer, student and campus life.

College Visits

If you live nearby or have the opportunity to travel to their campus, it is always a good idea to pay a visit. Before you decide to go, be sure to read through the college’s website to register for any campus tours or other in-person sessions happening during the time you are visiting. You can also reach out to their admissions representative and schedule a meeting. In-person interactions with college staff and students are always helpful in establishing your presence to the college.

If you aren’t able to visit the campus in person, do not worry! If there is one good thing that came out of the pandemic, it is that online webinars, events and other online interactions have become equally important in demonstrating interest. There are virtual tours, information sessions and interactive webinars, as well as student panels. For example, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama hosted an Information Week that had online sessions spanning over a week, containing information about all the majors and specializations they offered, as well as other admission tips and specific visa, travel and accommodation information for international students. These sessions featured faculty, current students, alumni and admissions staff, and allowed students from all over the world to connect with them through the online platform.

Email your Admissions Counsellor

If you are an international student, it is a good idea to email the international admissions counsellor who recruits in your city or country. This information can typically be found on the college website. However, it is crucial to make sure that you are emailing them about something important, which means that you have questions that you can’t find an answer to on their website or another purpose for which you are writing to them. A strong purpose or question shows the admissions representative that you have done your research, and thought about why you are interested in this college and therefore, why you are approaching them. Furthermore, it is essential that the email is properly formatted - it has a clear subject line, a respectful address (title followed by their name), and a formal & clear body. Make sure you write in your authentic voice and do not copy-paste a template. Also, it can be helpful to attach your resume to the email and provide your email & social media towards the end.

The aforementioned ways to demonstrate an interest in a college are pre-application processes, meaning that they are to be done before you apply to a college. However, there are also ways to show your deep interest through the actual admissions process. One of the major ways to do this is to apply early through Early Action or Early Decision cycles. In 2018, Columbia University filled up 46.8% of their class within the early admissions cycle itself, while UPenn filled up 53.7% and Brown University filled up 37.4%. This is because applying early shows the college that they are your top priority and you are extremely keen on studying there. But since applying early often means that you will accept admission if the college makes you an offer, it becomes necessary for students to spend time thinking about their college priority list before they apply, in order to ensure that you are sure about which college you intend to attend and therefore, apply early to.

However, with more and more students applying early, another aspect of the application process that becomes important in demonstrating interest is the “Why This College? Why This Major?” essay. These essays become easier to write when students have really explored different aspects of the college - the faculty, the campus, virtual sessions and events, the courses and the culture of the university. When writing these essays, think about how this university will help you thrive as an individual and how their contribution to your learning is not just valuable but essential in your journey. Being specific and directed towards the college and highlighting what is unique about them compared to other colleges, as well as making a deeply personal connection, can really help your essay stand out.

So if you are a prospective student, think about which colleges you want to attend and spend time deliberating on why you want to go there. Think beyond the ranks and gold-studded names, and find the true cause of why a university connects with you. This will make it easier for you to demonstrate interest before and during the application process.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, work with your counselor to understand this more.

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