Archive for March 3rd, 2015

How to Show You Are Interested

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


When I was looking at colleges “DI” stood for drill instructor, not demonstrated interest. The DI was someone many kids in my generation had very little interest in knowing. In the myriad of acronyms and abbreviations surrounding the college process today, “DI” refers to the level of interest the applicant demonstrated in a particular college.

The question is, how much importance does the college admissions committee (ad com) place on demonstrated interest. The answer is, not much…some…and very much. In other words, it depends on the college. Emory and American, for instance, will admit it takes the applicant’s level of interest into consideration. Others, like Stanford and MIT, may say it does not matter how much interest you show, they look at all applicants equally. But I suspect they say that to ward off students who want to game the system, as you will learn here. 

Regardless of what a school may say, I recommend that all students make an effort to show demonstrated interest and learn as much about their prospective colleges as possible. It all starts with research using the AAA method. Once that is accomplished the student should have a good idea of the appropriateness of each college on his or her list.    Is it a good fit intellectually, compatible with one’s values and, based on the common data set, is it a reach, a 50/50, a safety or in the “snowballs chance in ____” category? Not to mention are they affordable?  If such due diligence still leaves the college on the list then further inquiries need to be made.

Such inquiries may be described as showing “demonstrated interest” and that is fine.  For instance, prospective students should know about the depth and nature of academic internship and career advising. Other good conversation starters are:

  1. Is the faculty 100% invested in the teaching of undergrads and if teaching assistants are used what are their responsibilities? (Universities primarily)
  2. What has been the four-year graduation rate over the last four years, and does it vary with major?
  3. Are certain programs offered in the (your intended major) department going to be expanded or cut back?
  4. I am a student at a high school that does not give grades. Are you familiar with the ________ Schools curriculum? How do you compare my application with someone from a more traditional high school?
  5. What will be the merit scholarship criteria for the “_______” Scholarship next year?

Do this more to learn more about the school’s attitude toward students than with the intent of “buttering up” the regional admissions counselor. Colleges can spot the disingenuous inquiry. Thoughtfully think about the questions before you call (or email) them. Of course, be sure you are not asking questions that are already answered in the “fast facts’ or FAQ sections on the college website.

By the way, too many students are taking their safety schools for granted. Applicants should have some good reasons why they would be fine at their safety too. Carefully research and show interest in them as well. Such fall back colleges have been known to wait-list or reject students whom the adcom has determined would not attend if accepted. No college markets itself as the # 1 “favorite safety school”, so buyers beware. Even state colleges are hard pressed to accept the students they once could because of the overflow of applicants. States are cutting back faculty, programs and other costly expenditures have once taken for granted. In many cases, a top student may be able to go to a private college at much less than a state-supported public.

If you are in the Class of 2019, now is the time to review (or start) your college list. Most of you will take Subject tests and the ACT this year, but at the end of June, 2019 you will be starting the college application and essay writing process, give us a call or email today.