As a high school counselor here in Westchester County and owner of a college counseling business, I continue to get a lot of questions about what changes I am seeing on the college admissions landscape.
In many ways, college admissions will never be the same. Colleges that have chosen to go test-optional, meaning students can choose whether or not to submit their standardized test scores, do not seem eager to require them again anytime soon. Colleges that are used to seeing students with a buffet of extracurricular activities, from sports to clubs, are now interested in applicants who rely on less traditional activities to showcase their talents, interests, and passion projects. The importance of the college essay and supplemental responses, always a major point of emphasis for college admissions, has only increased as colleges look for personal stories to learn more about each individual student. All of these developments are good news for students and force colleges to lean into their oft-claimed “holistic approach” to admissions.
As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, we are seeing some changes that will likely stick – see above – and others that will become more of a focal point. Like Demonstrated Interest, for instance. Demonstrated Interest is how colleges assess how interested a student is in attending their school.
Econometric modeling has long been a tool that colleges have used to determine whether or not they might yield an applicant, i.e., will the student attend their school if they are accepted. With Customer Relationship Management platforms (CRM), colleges are able to use software to manage interactions with a prospective applicant and capture key information generated during those engagements. Take Slate for instance, a CRM solution used by admissions and enrollment offices at over 1,400 colleges and universities. Here’s an example of how Lehigh University would use Slate to track Demonstrated Interest of a particular student:
>> Lehigh University emails Nicholas, a junior, about their engineering programs
>> Nicholas opens the email (tracked)
>> He clicks on the link for a summer program offering (tracked)
>> He scrolls through the page for 91 seconds (tracked)
>> He clicks on the link for the upcoming Q and A session (tracked)
>> He registers for it (tracked)
>> He returns to the main engineering page, eventually visiting two other pages and remains on the school website for a total of eighteen minutes, 12 seconds (tracked)
Now, let’s take it a step further. Over the next 8-10 months, Nicholas does the following, all of which Lehigh will also track:
>> He attends the aforementioned Q & A session to learn more about their engineering programs
>> He attends Lehigh’s Summer Engineering Institute
>> He does a virtual tour and information session with the undergraduate admissions office
>> He attends a virtual college fair and “meets” Lehigh’s regional representative
>> He follows up with an email to the regional rep -- “Nice to meet you!”
>> He attends a live college info session with Lehigh’s regional rep at his high school in the college and career center
>> He makes an official campus tour to Lehigh University in October of senior year
>> He applies to Lehigh before November 1 and responds thoughtfully to the “Why Lehigh” supplemental essay showcasing that he has done considerable research
>> He emails Lehigh’s regional rep – “I just applied… hopeful for good news soon!”
All told, Nicholas had 15 tracked interactions or touchpoints with Lehigh University before applying and then one after, all of which constitute Demonstrated Interest.
While this is only one component of the college admissions and application process – grades and course rigor remain firmly entrenched as Components 1 and 1A when it comes to a student’s application -- showing colleges that you have naturally gravitated towards them can be the tipping point between getting in and not when decision time comes.