When it comes to college selection and increasing the likelihood of admission, parents and students tend to focus on maintaining a rigorous schedule and elevating GPA and standardized test scores. There are other factors that impact admissibility, such as the college essay, extracurricular activities and volunteer work. However, according to a new study conducted by Lehigh University and Mathematica Policy Research, many colleges now consider “demonstrated interest” as an important factor in their selection process – and the level of your student’s “demonstrated interest” can matter.1For example, what better expresses true interest: a request for a brochure, an email or phone call to admissions or a visit where the student can tour the campus, speak with current students and meet face-to-face with an admissions officer, dean and/or professor?
It’s not difficult to see that a high level of demonstrated interest can come at a hefty price tag. College is already expensive, and depending on your child’s wish list, college visits could add hundreds to a few thousand dollars to the total cost. This admissions trend demonstrates the importance of budgeting college visits into the overall cost of college. Research shows that the moderately selective schools care more about “demonstrated interest” than the private elites. Admissions officers at these schools are cautious in accepting students with an excellent academic profile but a lack of demonstrated interest. It’s not surprising to see a school like Loyola University Chicago (shown below) consider a student’s demonstrated interest as an “important” factor in their selection process. Loyola is a high quality university with bright undergraduates and a respected reputation, but they would prefer to avoid being the “backup college” to a student that has shown little interest and has his/her sights set on the likes of Stanford, MIT or Harvard.1
According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), 50.2% of colleges view “demonstrated interest” as having “moderate” to “considerable importance” among first-time freshman applicants.2The good news is that you can determine ahead of time whether you need to book a plane ticket to that distant college or not. As shown above, CollegeData.com provides information on various colleges and their consideration of “demonstrated interest” in admission. Schools like Harvard, MIT and the University of Michigan do not factor in “demonstrated interest,” whereas Notre Dame, Oberlin and Michigan State will at least consider it.
College selection and affordability always go hand-in-hand. Taking a college visit can certainly be a good investment but caution should be exhibited based on a school’s consideration of demonstrated interest and the family’s college budget. We encourage parents to identify where their child can get into college, get aid and afford to go before they book flights to distant colleges. No family wants to spend thousands of dollars to visit a college on the west coast only to find the net cost is too expensive. Contact Us to learn more on how we can help you identify your best strategy to pay for college.