I’ve written about demonstrated interest before, but as spring approaches it makes sense to discuss it once again.
“Demonstrated interest” is the practice of proactively showing schools that you are interested in them in advance of applying for admission. This is especially important for the small liberal arts schools, but it doesn’t hurt to do for any school. If you have the chance to visit a school you are interested in, then by all means visit. Make sure you sign up for a tour and an information session, by doing this, the school will have you in their database (and yes, most of them track your contact with them). Then, make sure to write a thank-you email to the counselor (whose card you hopefully saved), and to the student who gave you the tour.
Each point of contact is logged into that same database. If a school is your first, second, or even third choice, I recommend you make contact regularly with your regional counselor; give him/her an update on your activities or any new accomplishments you may have. Ask if they are going to be in your area in the near future—and make sure that if they are, you stop by and say hello. Schools want to admit students they feel want them. And when a student demonstrates interest in a school, it increases the college’s interest in the student.