Demonstrated Interest Topics: College Admissions Essay Help (page 2)

Updated on Dec 8, 2010

Demonstrating Interest without a Prompt

Admissions counselors rank demonstrated interest as a decision factor that's gaining in importance. Even if you don't get a specific prompt, you can use the Common Application's topic of your choice to write an essay that reveals how interested you are in attending a particular school. If this is your plan, it's critical that you do your homework.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Research your intended major. If you're applying to a school that has achieved recognition for that major, or if your major is a rare one and only a few schools offer it, you've got a good place to start. For example, there are only a few dozen schools that offer a major in agribusiness. Check the courses offered through your major's department, as well as the list of professors who teach them. On many sites, the professor's recent publications, research, and specific areas of interest will be listed. What appeals to you? Why do you want to study with one or more of these professors? Are there research opportunities you would like to get involved in? These are the kinds of details that can show how interested you are in attending.
  • Check mission statements. Grinnell College, for example, states in part that it "aims to graduate women and men who can think clearly, who can speak and write persuasively and even eloquently, who can evaluate critically both their own and others' ideas, who can acquire new knowledge, and who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good." Students who are compelled to work to serve the common good could write about how their goals mesh with those of the university.


  • Visit the college. This investment in time (and often expense if the location is far from home) demonstrates a sincere interest. While there, take the tour, sit in on a class, and talk with students. If you're interested in majoring in a specific department, arrange to meet with a professor or students in that department and ask questions.
  • Request an on-campus interview. Take advantage of this option if the college offers it, or try to meet with an alumnus in your area. Prepare for the interview by learning about the school and thinking about what you want the interviewer to know about you. This request shows initiative on your part.
  • Arrange to visit with a representative at a local or national college fair. If you cannot visit a school, you can see if there are any upcoming college fairs in your area at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling website,
  • Identify the Regional Admissions Officer at each college on your list. This is the person responsible for admissions applications from your part of the country. Get to know this person, both through e-mail and phone conversations. Ask this person to help you decide if the school is a good fit for you.
  • Spend time on the college's website. Stay on top of school news and happenings. Colleges keep track of how often you contact them and visit their site.
  • Respond promptly to recruiting e-mails or correspondence.
  • Meet with the admissions officer if he or she is visiting your high school or local area.
  • Develop a relationship with someone at the college or university.
  • Let the college know if it is your first choice or a top choice.
  • Attend a prospective student day.
  • Participate in online chats.
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