It’s simple. Students who DEMONSTRATE INTEREST at colleges who track interest get admittedSe at higher rates.

Colleges want to increase their “yield”.  Yield is the number of applicants who actually choose to attend a school where they are accepted.  In recent years, while the number of applicants to colleges are up, yield is down.  I won’t bore you with the reasons why. One way of increasing yield is tracking interest in the school on the part of the student.

Students who demonstrate interest are sending a strong message to the school of “I like you”.  Colleges indicate they have a higher yield of students demonstrating interest.  Not only that, those students demonstrating strong interest are more likely to stay at the school and graduate.  Remember, colleges are a business, and they need bodies to fill the seats and stay in the seats through graduation. Economics.

Which College Track Interest?

Not all colleges are taking the time to track interest.  However, the number doing so is quickly increasing.  According to the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), in 2009 76% of colleges assigned some level of importance to student interest in their school.  This could be anywhere from “limited” to “moderate” to “considerate”.

One school where I was talking to the Vice President of Enrollment told me, “We won’t admit anyone, regardless of GPA or ACT/SAT scores, who hasn’t demonstrated interest prior to application.” Colleges even have a name for applicants who don’t land on their radar prior to applying: Stealth Applicants.

The colleges where DI matters vary greatly: small, large, public, private, highly selective and not. So how do you find out where it matters? This is something LEAP teaches in our College Selection Seminar. Next opportunity to learn this and change how you do college selection is in-person in Cincinnati on February 8th.

So how do you demonstrate interest?

Plan an official visit where you participate in the guided tour and attend events and classes.  Send a hand written thank you note after your visit to each person who spent time with you.  Correspond, but don’t become a pest, with the admission’s representative for your area.  “Like” the school’s page on social media, but be sure to clean-up your posts and pictures you are tagged in first.  Participate in any online chats or other methods via the university’s website.  The goal?  Show regular and continuing interest without annoying those who will ultimately make the decision on your future.

While sending ACT and SAT scores would certainly get you on the radar, LEAP does not recommend this until you know your scores. At the time of test registration, students have the opportunity to list 4 schools to have scores sent to.  Since 1999 LEAP has a handful of students every year for whom something goes wrong on test day.  Why would you send your scores before you see them yourself?  Not having a crystal ball could put you at a disadvantage.  Sending scores at the time of application costs approximately $12 per school and may be the cheapest form of insurance around.

LEAP’s advice?  Stay safe by showing interest in any school you love.  Start courting them. Don’t be a stealth applicant.