Some colleges use "level of applicant's interest" as a factor, probably mostly to reject or waitlist high stats students who appear to be using them as "safeties" but are unlikely to attend (see the admissions tab on the college's entry at http://www.collegedata.com
or section C7 of its common data set to see if "level of applicant's interest" is considered). So do not use such a college as a low choice "safety" that you are not really that interested in (but your actual safeties should be college you are actually interested in). Assuming that you actually are interested in such a college, consider the following (not all of which will apply to all schools):
* Apply binding early decision if the college is your clear first choice, and you will not need to compare financial aid offers. Early decision is the strongest expression of interest that there is, since you agree to attend if admitted and the financials work.
* If there is a choice between non-binding early action and single choice early action, apply single choice early action to indicate that you are willing to give up other potential early admission opportunities to apply to the college in question.
* When writing application essays, be sure to indicate interest in the specific college and characteristics unique to it (as opposed to characteristics shared by other, more selective colleges), particularly in a "why [this college]?" essay.
* Visit and have the visit recorded at the admissions office.
* Ask questions to admissions representatives (in a way that they record who you are).
* If filing a FAFSA with multiple schools listed, place the college in question high on the list.
* After applying, check your account on the admissions portal web site frequently.
Anyone have others to add to this list?