While enrollment models built on the results of past years might be less accurate this time around, they still provide certain signals to college leaders.
“The models never had the level of precision that colleges thought they did,” Zucker said.
This year, many colleges will be looking for as many signs of a student’s “demonstrated interest” in actually enrolling as they can find in this new normal. Did the student take a virtual tour? Did she show up for a Zoom meet-up with an admissions counselor? Did he open an email?
Why it matters: Before the pandemic, about one in five colleges said demonstrated interest was of “considerable importance” in their admissions decisions. That’s about the same weight they give to counselor recommendations and essays, and even more consideration than given to teacher recommendations, class rank, and extracurricular activities.
Behind the numbers: There’s evidence that the better the student, the more demonstrated interest might matter to his admissions decision—especially at colleges not at the top of the academic pecking order.
One study of two years of contacts that a highly selective university made with more than 12,000 applicants found that students with the highest academic profile (grades and SAT scores) were really helped by showing demonstrated interest.
- Simply put, colleges which track demonstrated interest are reluctant to admit smart students who don’t engage in the admissions process for fear of being used as a safety school.
Bottom line: Even if you can’t get to campus, the more students show interest in a school this year the more it might help their chances for admission and merit aid.