Don’t delete college emails — they might be watching

Devyn Inong, Feature Editor

With overflowing inboxes, students often ignore emails from colleges and universities — apparently a no-no to college admission officials. In fact, colleges are starting to track these seemingly unimportant robo-emails that supply colleges with tons of statistics that measure a student’s interest in the college.
By opening an email sent from a college, a student shows “demonstrated interest” in that college. “Demonstrated interest” is one of many criteria admissions officials use to score applications.
The term “demonstrated interest” refers to the degree of interest a student shows when applying to a college. However, longing to be admitted into one’s dream college isn’t a great way of increasing one’s demonstrated interest score.
“Looking an admission officer in the eye and confessing your deep love for their college or writing in your essay that this is your dream school do not sufficiently demonstrate interest in the eyes of the admission office,” former Admissions Officer for the University of Southern California Steven Mercer said in an interview with Compass Education Group.
Demonstrated interest can be shown by attending college fairs, signing up for official campus visits and requesting information on a college’s website. Another way to show demonstrated interest? Open those emails.
“It is of great value to a college to have a stronger level of certainty that you are more likely to attend, compared to another applicant,” Mercer said.
Prestigious colleges don’t take into account demonstrated interest levels as much as lesser-known institutions. If a highly qualified student applies to a smaller school but has shown little interest in the school, counselors will usually reject the applicant because of their lack of shown interest. Since the student is highly qualified, she is likely to get accepted into a more prestigious college.
Admissions counselors from lesser-known colleges will reject students with low demonstrated interest to try to increase their yield of enrolled students.
Colleges track demonstrated interest in emails by using software from an independent third party. Capture Higher Ed (CHE) is one company that sells said software. Capture Behavioral Engagement (CBE) and Envision Predictive Modeling are two of CHE’s products that colleges can purchase to track students’ behavior on their emails.
“[Capture Behavioral Engagement] builds a detailed profile of each visitor over time,” an informational video on CBE’s website said. “As visitors engage with [the] website, CBE gathers behavioral data.”
Features included in CBE track how long a students stays on a college’s website, which links on the site a student clicks on, and how quickly the student opens the email in the first place.
“I honestly feel like that creates bias towards students that actually open the emails,” senior Amanda Paulino said. “Just because I don’t open the emails doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t want to go there.”