You probably think of Einstein and crazy tests when you think of IQ, but in college admissions, IQ is entirely different. Interest quotient, or what many call demonstrated interest, has increasingly become one of the more important “soft factors” considered when evaluating college applications.
What is IQ and why is it important?
Simply, interest quotient (IQ), or demonstrated interest, is the university’s way of gauging how likely a student is to attend if admitted. In a competitive college admissions process where many students can have similar GPAs, test scores, and other numerical data, soft factors like extracurricular activities, recommendations, and IQ become the “tipping factors.”
From 2003 to 2011, the percentage of colleges rating demonstrated interest as a “considerably important” factor increased from 7% to 21% according to an annual survey by the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC).
NACAC’s 2012 survey also found that about 60% of colleges assigned some level of importance to a student’s interest in attending the institution.
Colleges want to admit applicants who have done their research, are excited about the possibility of attending that school, and who will make an impact on campus. Schools track demonstrated interest because they want to offer admission to students who really, really want to be there!
Schools also need to manage their yield, or the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll, and IQ can be a great predictor for that.
So how do you bump up your IQ?
Do your research.
The best way for applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of the institution and to show that they have carefully considered the school as a good fit is by doing their homework. Learn everything about the school and its academic programs, campus life, traditions, etc. by researching online, talking to current and former students, and reaching out to admissions officers with any questions or concerns.
Go on college visits.
Students who actually visit the institution to which they are applying are more likely to attend if admitted, so many schools will pay attention to whether an applicant has been to campus. Whenever possible, plan to visit your top schools.
Make sure to register for official tours and information sessions so the school has a record of your visit. Not only are college visits great for demonstrating interest and getting a feel for the school first-hand, they’re also a great opportunity to do additional research on the institution in order to gather details about the school that you might not get online or in a brochure.
If the school is your top-choice, apply early.
Applying in the early round is one of the most compelling ways for an applicant to demonstrate his or her interest. By applying early, especially if the decision is binding, you are showing the school that you have made a mature and informed decision about the institution at which you feel you will be most successful. Admission rates in the early round can be nearly double than those in the regular decision round, so if you and your counselor feel confident about your application ahead and apply ED or EA.
Write a great supplement.
In some cases, IQ is less about an applicant’s contact with the school and more about how outstanding his or her school-specific supplements are on the Common Application. More than 500 colleges and universities, including some of the most selective, use the Common Application, and almost all of the top schools require applicants to submit supplemental essays or short answer responses.
Supplements, because they often have prompts tailored to the school or academic program to which the student is applying, are a great way for applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of the institution, how they feel they will make an impact on campus, and why they think the school is a great fit for them. While the supplement isn’t the sole factor in determining if a student will be admitted, it does have a big impact on IQ.
Remember there a many factors evaluated in the admissions process, but IQ is all in your control! So take advantage of this and bump up your IQ to increase your chances of admission.