What is an Interest Quotient in College Apps?

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Kristen Seikaly
Kristen Seikaly

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If you have a first choice college come application time, it’s in your best interest to effectively demonstrate interest in that college. Whereas with personal relationships we sometimes don’t want to come across as overly invested too early, colleges are the opposite. A college wants to know how interested you are in attending their institution. In fact, this is known as an Interest Quotient. Let’s break that down.

How is this measured?

Colleges track demonstrated interest in a number of ways. More often than not, they track it through campus visits, the amount of correspondence an applicant has with their school, if they have an alumni interview, and whether or not they apply early decision or early action.

Colleges then take this information and calculate it into something called an Interest Quotient, or IQ. 60% of colleges factor in IQ in some way, so it’s important to show yours off. Especially when Ivy League colleges are competing against each other for students, knowing how to raise your Interest Quotient in college applications can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

So how do you effectively raise your IQ?

Visit a college

The best way to raise your Interest Quotient is through a college visit (perhaps even multiple visits, if you can). Colleges take note of your visits and how thorough they were. That means it’s in your best interest to attend prospective student events, sit in on classes, and generally participate in the campus life. Furthermore, you can raise your IQ by sending a thank you note after your visits. Many colleges will keep thank you notes on file.

Apply early decision

Applying early action works, too, but early decision tells a school that you will definitely attend if given admission.

Demonstrate your interest in an interview

If you have an interview with a school, tell them how much you want to attend. The ability to demonstrate your genuine interest in a school in a face-to-face meeting will certainly raise your Interest Quotient.

Write a specific “Why This College” essay

Many colleges require students to write an essay explaining why they want to attend this college specifically. Writing a specific, detailed, and thought-out response will speak volumes. Additionally, if you’re not required to write such an essay, you may consider submitting one as a supplement.


While a high Interest Quotient will not guarantee you acceptance to your top choice college, it’s worth noting that the majority of colleges take note of it in some way. Especially if your application lacks substance in an area, or you’re looking for a way to stand out, your IQ can do that. If you take the time to consider how to raise your Interest Quotient on your college applications, it can serve you well. 

Questions? Let us know!