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Advanced Admissions: How to Set Yourself Apart

Most rising seniors think their job right now is to find the schools they want to apply to in the fall. The more ambitious ones might be writing application essays now, too. And they’re right. But what they don’t know is something of a secret in admissions counseling. The term “demonstrated interest” gets tossed around in articles on admissions trends, but there is very little concrete advice on what it is and how to do it.


If you’re not familiar with demonstrated interest, it describes a student’s efforts in showing that a school is at the top of his or her list. Admissions officers gauge interest in an attempt to predict who will attend if admitted. Note that in all cases, the applicant, rather than a parent, must be the one showing the interest! Phone calls and emails from parents can actually hurt your chances for admission at some selective schools.

Here’s how to do it:



· Visit the college if possible. It shows you’ve invested the time to visit the campus. While there, take the tour, arrange to sit in on a class, and talk with students. If you’re interested in majoring in a specific department, arrange to meet with a professor or students in that department and ask questions.

· Request an on campus interview if the college offers one, or with an alumnus in your area. Prepare for the interview by learning about the school and thinking about what you want the interviewer to know about you. This shows initiative, even if the interview never takes place.

· If you cannot get to the school, arrange to visit with the college admissions staff at a local or national college fair. You can check out national college fairs at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling website, www.nacacnet.org.

· Identify the Regional Admissions Officer at each college on your list. This is the person responsible for applications from your part of the country. Get to know this person through both email and phone conversations. Ask this person to help you decide if the school is a good fit for you.

· Let the college know if is your first choice or a top choice.

· Attend a prospective student day.

· Participate in online chats.

· Email well-thought-out questions and spend time on the college’s website on a regular basis. Colleges keep track of how often you contact them and visit the site.

· Respond to recruiting emails or correspondence (unopened emails can count against you!).

· Answer the “why you want to attend” question on your application thoughtfully.

· Once you’ve sent in your application, check back with the admissions office to make sure they have everything they need and that your application is complete.

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