Looking for an edge in the college admissions process? When you’re competing against an ocean of applicants with similar academic records and test scores, it’s critical to find something to set you apart from the crowd. Beyond the numbers in your application, schools across the country agree that two factors matter most: your personal statements (essays), and something called demonstrated interest.

Demonstrated interest is the degree to which you show that you are sincerely interested in attending a school. It’s the difference between sending off a generic application to a school just because you think you’ll probably get in and infusing your application with the passion and excitement you have for that school in particular. Admission committees want to know that if they let you in, there’s a good chance that you’re actually going to go.

So how do you demonstrate interest in a school?

First, make sure you’re applying to schools that you’re actually interested in. Researching and creating your school list can seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of resources available to help: the Department of Education’s College Scorecard and CollegeBoard’s BigFuture are great places to start, and our College Application Consulting program will give you great, one-on-one guidance on choosing schools. As you’re compiling your list, do your research and listen to your passion - what programs does the school offer that make you want to go there? What aspects of the campus environment appeal to you? Are there extracurriculars and courses that fire up your imagination?

Second, convey your passion in your essays. Essays that ask you to explain why you are interested in a particular school are often the most tricky to answer, but they’re also a great opportunity to demonstrate genuine interest.

  • Show you’ve done more than a basic Google search. Anyone can name-drop a professor whose bio they found on the website. Instead, focus on the broader picture: campus culture, academic philosophy, traditions, and student life - show that you’ve really investigated what it’s like to be a student there.
  • Put yourself in the picture. Show the admissions committee how you’ll fit into the class they’re building and what you bring to the table that makes you a perfect fit for them. Real estate wisdom says that once you’ve gotten a potential buyer to imagine themselves living in a house, it’s sold; demonstrate to the admissions committee that you’ve done just that.

Third, get in contact with admissions officers. Campus visits are a great way to demonstrate your interest in a school, but even if you can’t fly out to Cambridge or New Haven, there are ways to make this happen. Go to college fairs and introduce yourself to school representatives, reach out to local alumni, or see if there’s a college club in your area. You may even learn something about the school you can’t get from the website!

At Cortex, we guide our 12th grade students to success on all aspects of the college application process, including demonstrating interest on their applications. For more information on what we do, click here to request a free consultation with a member of our team!

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