CNN: Demonstrating interest

<p>New article on the familiar topic of the importance of demonstrating interest. </p>

<p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/10/14/colleges.enthusiasm.ap/index.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/10/14/colleges.enthusiasm.ap/index.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>That is a very interesting article and thanks for posting it, Marite. I think it is a very true reality today. I do believe "interest" plays a factor in admissions and needs to be shown. </p>

<p>It was funny for me to read the vignette at the end of the article regarding teacher recs (and/or student essays) containing the wrong school name within the text. If you recall last year, one of my D's teacher recs referred to the college name about five times within the narrative. His original narrative letter was written for her first school, Yale. In subsequent mailings, he changed the name to the appropriate school. However, while he did that four times, he missed the fourth "Yale" at the very end of the narrative report and so every school of my D's got a "Yale" in there. For a short while, I thought, yikes, not good, particularly with safety schools. But I let it go cause there is nothing you can do about it. It was an honest mistake and they know it was not the kid who made it and of course she was applying elsewhere. It was not great for less selective schools to see that, but I could not dwell on it. It turned out she still got into the other schools (not Yale though!). I think a kid writing that would look worse but as the article says, would not break the deal. </p>

<p>Susan</p>

<p>This seems to be a pretty flimsy article, and I can't invest much in it. This kind of thinking is really harsh on people who can't afford even one visit, let alone several. It implies that we wasted our silver bullet on Chicago rather than being able to hit up several NE colleges in Boston and Conn areas in one trip. She could have seen 4 to 6 that are on the short list rather than only Chi which is the EA pick so far. Well, you have to do what you can. We'd love to see a couple other colleges at least, but the lack of funds, the problem of missing school and the distance from our state makes it slim to none.</p>

<p>bettina:</p>

<p>I had the same reaction as you, but I don't blame the messenger for the bad news.
I feel that demonstrated interest is yet another aspect of the college application process that favors certain kinds of applicants over others. We've been lucky that we live close enough to several colleges my S is interested in but there's no way we can visit others that are equally good and might be a terrific fit.</p>

<p>We've visited at least 3 schools that will have no record of our visit. On these three occasions that I recall (there may be more) we pulled up to campus just in time for the info session and went right in without signing in. This happened where the info session was held in a building separate from the Admissions Office. I specifically recall Brown, Tufts and Yale. So, if they're counting.....too bad for us. Oh, and Amherst was visited on a Sunday....no check-in their either.</p>

<p>I hope the schools don't all start to give this factor too much weight. As you can see, it's got holes.</p>

<p>D keeps getting invitations to come interview and/or visit at schools she's already interviewed at and/or visited. Whether that means they didn't keep records, or are not adjusting their mailing lists, I don't know. But we've revised our own college list based on D's demonstrated interest. We ended up in Vermont last year--nowhere near where we lived--because of a family affair. I figured that would be a great opportunity to hop over and visit Middlebury. When D said she wasn't "in the mood," I considered that an indicator that Middlebury really shouldn't be on her college list, and she agreed. I don't mean to imply that that's true whenever you don't visit a college--obviously time and money and other factors obviously play a part--but if you're half an hour away from a school with time on your hands and an automobile at your disposal and don't feel like seeing what it's like in real life, I think that's significant.</p>

<p>Fair or unfair, anyone who is really interested in a specific college is well advised to let it show. Our daughter's GC told her it is especially important at the top LACs, which compete with the Ivies. He said that when the adcom at these schools opens up the folder and begins discussing an applicant, they will have the number of visits and/or contacts (coaches, college fairs, etc.) right there in front of them, and that it can make a difference when they are trying to figure out if YOU are going to accept THEM, should they offer you admission. They don't want to be rejected any more than applicants do.</p>

<p>I think the article overstates the importance of "demonstrated interest." A good application demonstrates interest, by definition.</p>

<p>I disagree with Idler. A good application is a given, it's expected. And in this day of the "Common App" everyone knows that the same application and essays are being sent to all the same schools....with careful effort to change the school's name, as noted above.</p>

<p>Schools have a vested interest in the yield ratio of their accepted students. Part of it is ratings, but just as important is not over or under-enrolling a class. They need to have a good sense of which students are likely to accept their acceptance. Kids that have made multiple contacts with a school, through coaches, professors, admissions visits, local reps, get noticed. Not that kids from say, California or Texas get dumped because they didn't fly out to visit Bowdoin...the adcoms aren't idiots, they realize geographic limitations, and they in fact really want state-by-state diversity if they can achieve it....but they're going to notice a kid who has come to an open house, attended a tour, chatted with a coach about a team...it's just common sense to recognize demonstrated interest. I realize it can be feigned, but again, the adcoms aren't idiots. A "Committment to saving the world" essay can be feigned too.</p>

<p>My daughter and I attended an information session on campus at one of the LAC. The adcom told the group that last year they did not accept a single student who had not been for a visit. Her thoughts were, if you were really interested in our college, you would have found a way to visit. I keep thinking about her comment every time my daughter says she doesn't want to visit. Sometimes my daughter doesn't want to take the time to travel and miss school; she feels that she can get to know a school by what her friends have to say and by reading online. I disagree, so we have visited each school she is applying to and doing the full admissions tour and info session. The only schools we didn't bother with are her safety school and the school her brother attends (here she toured with her brother and attended and info session in our city).</p>

<p>I'll concede that it depends on the school, but maintain that it matters little to top colleges. Will Amherst or Penn reject someone because they think they might go to Harvard, if accepted?</p>

<p>Momsdream, it does not matter if the visits were recorded in some data base. The child's interest can be demonstrated on his own. In his cover letter or other parts of the application, when discussing why he wants to attend X college, he should demonstrate specific reasons why and how he gleaned this from exploring the college through his visit, talking to so and so on the visit, and what not. My D did visit all her schools and met with professors, coaches, current students, and so forth. She never did this for an admissions "advantage" but rather to suit her own needs to learn more about a place she may have to commit to for four years and wanting it to meet her criteria/needs. Even if she never had to write an application, she would have done this for herself. However, indeed the adcoms did know about it because it was referred to in her application, letters, contacts with those on campus, and in interviews. It came up because in showing interest, the source of it arose. It did not matter if there was some counter on the tour and info. session. </p>

<p>I recall last year, only one of my D's colleges sent a rep to her high school and that person was an admissions officer from Smith. My daughter met one on one with her as she was the only kid to attend the session. She told me that the adcom remarked to her over and over again how she was impressed with how much my D already knew about the school (and she had not even yet visited). Then when she went to visit later on and went to the info. session, who should be leading it but that same adcom who remarked, you don't even need this info. session because I recall how much you already know about Smith! I recall her telling me that the admissions officer for Conn College (her safety school) who came to our state to conduct personal interviews with applicants, also remarked to her how much he observed that she knew about the school. She demonstrated as much interest in her safety school as her reach schools. She had done a comprehensive visit to Conn College and I guess it came across when they were discussing the school, enough for him to remark to her about her knowledge of the school. I think they do care about this, like it or not. </p>

<p>I agree with Driver that a school wants to know you have explored them as well and so there is fit on both ends of this. They also have a vested interest in that factor because they can't take everyone who is qualified and would be more inclined to take someone who they felt really wanted to come there. That is not a far fetched notion. While I agree with others that this means an expense, I think there are ways to explore a school and subsequently show interest without that expense. For instance, a student could email a department head in her major to learn more and same with current students. She should do this because she wants to genuinely find out more, not to play part of some admissions game. Perhaps she will come away with something that really piques her interest and it will come up on her application and in her interview where she should demonstrate why she wants to go to that particular school. I know as a college interviewer myself, this very question comes up. </p>

<p>As well, when articulating Why X College, the answer better not be generic where the kid could write the same thing for each school and change the name (ie., I like the location, it has my major, I like the size and the dorms). It should be quite specific, showing that the student has done her homework that she SHOULD do because in picking out a place to live and learn for four years (let alone plop down huge amounts of money), the student should have explored the fit of the school and be able to tell why she wants to go. That can be done for little expense and obviously the visits cost more but in essence, it is about the "interest" factor, not so much how much you spend to investigate the college. </p>

<p>While visits are truly a major expense (believe me, I know, my current applicant must travel to 8 schools to audition in a three month period), I highly recommend it because there is no way I would want my daughter to pick a school out based on what she has read only. It is way different in person, let alone by speaking to those on campus, stuff you cannot just read about. The expense is surely a problem. People could just visit their preferred schools and then only visit the others if need be in April when acceptances roll in, as one way to keep costs down. The cost of tuition is so high that I think the cost of a trip to visit is a small percentage of that greater sum. I would not pick a house out without seeing it first either. Nonetheless, I do agree with others that the system favors those who can afford this. I still think there are ways to explore a school and demonstrate sincere interest without spending a great deal. </p>

<p>Like it or not, it is very true today with college admissions that "interest" is one factor. Not the biggest factor but surely one of them. When it is so competitive to get in, ya gotta address all factors weighed in the admissions process.</p>

<p>Susan</p>

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<p>We did go to a Stanford Admission session in our area. There was a very informative video, though it did not quite make up for the lack of a real tour. The adcom had a list of people who had signed up for the session; there was one as well at the MIT info session (at MIT). I assume this shows demonstrated interest. At Harvard, there seemed to be a lot of people who had just dropped in, as we did, without signing in. We did not sign in at Princeton or Yale either, though my S has been in contact with adcoms at all the places he is interested in.</p>

<p>To follow up on Pokey's comment:
In a last-minute fit of parental panic, just before the application deadline in 2003, we insisted that our daughter apply to Swarthmore. Why did we insist? Well, we just wanted to make sure she kept all her options open. She is a 13th generation birthright Quaker. Top student. She had fabulous stats. Major, major Swarthmore legacy---father, two grandparents, 3 great grandparents, multiple aunts and uncles. Waitlisted. Why? Well, no one has officially told me. But we live 20 minutes away. We know lots of people there. We donate money. And daughter absolutely refused to visit. Because she didn't want to go there. Way too close to home. It was obvious to the adcom what was up. They have a tiny class of very qualified students, and they need to make sure that the ones they accept--who could go anywhere---will accept them in return. </p>

<p>In contrast, I ran into one of the Williams College coaches (D is currently at Williams) last spring, who provided a little admissions insight. The coach was asked by the admissions director if my daughter was on the list of impact athletes who might warrant a "tip". The coach said "no, but she belongs here even if she doesn't make my team, and she doesn't need a tip anyway. She's a perfect fit for this school." The coach told me that the reason the question was asked by the adcom, was that my daughter seemed likely to attend, given her multiple contacts with the school, and the adcom wanted the coach's assessment of how likely my daughter was to attend. The answer, based on contact and demonstrated interest, was "very likely." I can't swear that her multiple visits and contacts with Williams helped her acceptance there....but I think it helped.</p>

<p>My son was accepted at Stanford and Duke, which he did not visit until after being accepted, and Williams and Dartmouth, which he visited but without being noticed, and rejected by Harvard and Yale, which he visited twice. He did sign a list at Harvard, but was told at Yale that demonstrated interest didn't count there. That's why I'm a little skeptical, though, Driver, I enjoyed reading your anecdotes. Perhaps your daughter conveyed a lack of interest in her Swathmore app? Anyway, happy for her/you that she's at Williams, which was my first choice for my son (but I didn't get a vote).</p>

<p>i think a lot of it depends on how close or far you are from the school. I believe that adcoms understand that everyone does not have the time or money to fly cross country to visit a school, but if you are close by, they consider it just lazy. I remember we invited an Adcom from Columbia to speak to the parents and students about their admissions process and he if you are from NYC and don't visit or demonstrate interest in Columbia it can be the kiss of death because they straight up ask you on the application about the contact you have made with the school. And if a person does not have the time to get on the # 1 to come up to the school, they really don't know anything about it other than the name</p>

<p>I'll be starting college visits soon, but becuase of varying factors (money, time) I'll only be able to visit a few out of state schools, I live in Ohio, and most of the schools i'm interested in are on the east or west coast, so how does one show interest when visiting is financially and otherwise impossible?</p>

<p>celebrian:</p>

<p>Check for local admission information sessions. They are usually advertised on the college website. You can also email or phone the colleges you are interested if you have specific questions.</p>

<p>Idler,
Sounds like we've had some similar experiences. I would agree that demonstrated interest probably doesn't count with the Ivies...with the possible exception of Columbia and Dartmouth, just because of their locations; applicants there would probably do well to make clear their understanding of the urban or rural setting. But I really thought that I could perceive a difference with AWS, based on daughter's experience. She made multiple trips to Williams, and they really wooed her. One trip to Amherst, and they really didn't pay much attention (waitlist). Her Swarthmore app was actually really good. She knows the campus, and they have their own essay. I think that if she had made the effort to visit, she would have been accepted. Nearby Haverford College, another Quaker school (to which she was also accepted) <em>requires</em> a personal interview from any applicant within 100 miles or so. Anyway, my take on the demonstrated interest thing is that it does matter. Not saying that it's right or wrong, but if your child really wants a particular school, and is reasonably in the running, TELL THEM!</p>

<p>At HYP, where it looks like they don't track attendance at info sessions or tours, would an on-campus interview be a plus in terms of demonstrated interest? Versus, say, a local alumni interview?</p>

<p>Momof2 in CA</p>