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Elite Colleges Value Demonstrated Interest

Among the distinguishing characteristics of the selection process of elite colleges is that some of them want to love you… and some of them want to be loved by you.  The best approach is to work with your IvySelect consultant to express your love through “demonstrated interest”.

Demonstrated interest is a term used by college admissions officials to describe what an applicant does that conveys their desire to attend the college. Several types of activities may be tracked and weighed to measure interest. As an applicant, you should assume that every interaction that you have with a targeted college adds to your score.

Highly selective colleges don’t necessarily consider interest as a factor in admissions. They feel that they don’t need to because they receive so many qualified applicants. However, most top-tier colleges do consider interest because they have found that interested applicants fit better and become superior students.

A second factor favoring the consideration of interest by elite colleges is their need to maintain a high “yield”, the percentage of admitted students who ultimately enroll in their school. Students admitted by one elite school are usually also admitted by several others. Applicants that have demonstrated a high level of interest are much more likely to enroll and improve the yield of the school.

The best way to demonstrate your interest in your first-choice “dream” college is to apply for Early Decision (ED) in November of senior year if it is offered by your favorite school. You can expect the school’s decision in December.

ED has drawbacks that need to be considered. You can only apply for ED at one college. You must attend that college if accepted and offered financial aid that, by objective standards, is appropriate for your circumstances. Upon acceptance, you must withdraw all other applications.

The advantage of ED is that it is the supreme demonstration of interest. This is why many elite colleges favor those applicants who use it.  For example, Dartmouth admitted 28% of ED applicants, Brown 19%, and Columbia 20%, rates that exceed their overall acceptance rates by several multiples.

Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) programs, which are offered by Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford, also allow you to demonstrate interest by applying early. Although these programs only allow you to apply to one school early, they are non-binding and offer higher admission rates than their corresponding Regular Decision (RD) programs. For example, Harvard admitted 21% of SCEA applicants to its Class of 2018, compared to an RD acceptance rate of 6%.

To avoid the drawbacks of ED, a nonbinding alternative is Early Action (EA). EA demonstrates high interest and is also viewed favorably in decisions, although not as favorably as ED. EA applicants apply early and receive a decision early, usually by mid-December. If you are accepted, you are not required to give the college your decision until May 1, so you are free to consider offers from other colleges.

By understanding the nuances in the admissions processes of each top-tier college, your IvySelect consultant is able to advise you in the most effective ways to show interest in your targeted colleges. Several examples are listed below.

Visit – It is to your advantage to schedule a visit and attend a campus tour.. Arrange to meet with an admissions representative, students, campus groups of interest to you, and a faculty member, if possible.

Interview – An interview enables an admissions officer to discuss the fitness of the college for you and vice versa. If you have already targeted this school, it’s a great opportunity to impress the interviewer and add a personal touch to your profile. The interview may be on-campus or in your area.

Join – Respond to early recruitment mailings and get on all mailing lists.  Research colleges on the web so that you can communicate with admissions officials intelligently.  If you “Like” the college’s Facebook page, you’ll get on that list. Also “Follow” them on other social media platforms.

Contact – If possible, try to meet with the local admissions officer who will be the first person to review your application. Ask questions and discuss any concerns that you may have. Send a thank you note. Don’t over-communicate or press too hard.

Attend Fairs – If you can’t visit every targeted campus, a college fair is a good way to meet with the admissions representatives. Attend even if you have already visited the campus.

Some elite schools don’t track demonstrated interest. However, these schools usually require a supplemental essay that asks, “Why do you want to attend our school?” By becoming informed about the school through interest-demonstrating activities, you’ll be able to craft an impressive essay. With the guidance of IvySelect, your essay will be precise about those characteristics of the school that attract you. The specificity of the essay may prove to them that you’re a perfect fit for their institution. If so, your demonstrated interest campaign will still have served the purpose of improving your case for admission.