This week, the Wall Street Journal ran “Colleges Mine Data on Their Applicants,” an insightful and instructive read about the hypercompetitive world of college admissions. Pass it along to your college-bound children ASAP. They need to know this game is on.
College admissions is about GPA, test scores, activities and class rank, but it’s also increasingly about grit and desire. With the most selective schools accepting fewer than 15% of all applicants, a “yes” rather than a “no” might result from some simple, but meaningful, acts of demonstrated interest in a college.
Demonstrated interest is a newer term of art used by colleges to gauge how much effort a student is putting in to learn about the institution and develop a relationship during the college courting process. Sorry, I meant to say the college admissions process.
The article points out that increasing numbers of colleges are now judging demonstrated interest formally with a score or informally through data analysis. How long a student spends on a web site or how long they take to open a communication from the college may be enough to differentiate them from another borderline student.
The message if pretty simple: whether in-person or on-line, students should be very attentive, extremely responsive and sincere when interacting with the school. If the student is truly interested in a particular college, they should not consider any interaction with the school to be casual, because the college most likely does not.
If you children are like mine, they may not want to hear this from you so you might text or email this type of article and information. For me, telling them that I read an article is much less effective than texting or emailing it, and then asking if they’ve had a chance to open it. The indirect approach seems have come off as less preachy and resulted in better outcomes.
I’m not surprised to hear that colleges are data mining. All businesses use data to analyze customers and prospects. Colleges are a business and applicants should recognize that they are consumers engaging in a business transaction. In addition to cleaning-up their FaceBook and Instagram presence, college applicants should treat all in-person and on-line interactions as formal encounters. They should be very attentive, extremely responsive and sincere — a combination that may increase their demonstrated interest to point that differentiates them from another borderline candidate.
Contributed by John Hupalo
John Hupalo is the founder of MyCollegeCorner, father of two who are nearly through college and co-author of “Plan and Finance Your Family’s College Dreams.