What is Demonstrated Interest in College Admissions?
The college admissions process is made up of several steps and components. The most prominent are the college application itself, test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, FAFSA, essays, and demonstrated interest.
Demonstrated interest is straightforward, and it means exactly what it sounds like: it demonstrates interest in the college you're applying for. You may be asking, “but doesn't my application sort of, you know, demonstrate that I'm interested?"
Yes. Yes, it does, but thanks to modern application platforms, colleges want to see more. To understand demonstrated interest, you have to understand why it was added to the college admissions process, so that's where we'll begin!
What is the Point of Demonstrated Interest?
Demonstrated interest was borne out of this rather repetitive process of applying for multiple colleges. As students began applying for more institutions, new ways to apply, in bulk, began to appear as well.
The most famous one, with more than 900 colleges and universities, is the Common Application. At its core, the Common App makes it easier to apply to college by taking the redundant parts of applications — name, address, basic info — and applying it to all applications. It allows you to assign letters of recommendation with a click or two and plenty more.
While applying to college would still never be considered “easy,” it's been made easier by platforms like these. On top of that, students are applying to more colleges than ever. It's easier than ever before to add one more application to the lineup.
But here's the thing- many colleges and universities get very protective of their acceptance and yield rates, especially when you get into selective institutions.
Without going into the calculus too much, colleges don't want to send out acceptances willy-nilly. They want to send acceptances to truly interested prospective students to protect their yield rate. A yield rate is the number of acceptances sent out compared to the number that actually enrolls — the closer those two numbers are, the more desirable the school.
This is where demonstrated interest comes into play.
What is Demonstrated Interest?
It's exactly what it sounds like and is defined as — doing something that explicitly shows interest in a college outside of the application. This can range from a genuine curiosity about a school to a full-on cheer team, and marching band-style enthusiasm.
How to Demonstrate Interest in Colleges
It's easy to demonstrate interest in a college. It includes doing things that you may do anyway. You're demonstrating interest when you:
Follow and interact with the college or university on social media(s). Seriously. Simply following a college on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is considered demonstrating interest. It can have a dual purpose, too, since you can often tell a lot about campus activities from a school's most-used social media page.
Open and read emails. You may not be particularly interested in what that email has to say. But colleges use systems that let them know who opened their emails and even if they clicked the links inside of it. So you get an email from a college, open it, click a link or two, and bam! you've demonstrated interest.
Attend informational sessions and webinars. Sign up for an informational session or webinar and attend. You just want your name to pop up on their screens. Better yet, if you can interact with an admissions counselor or representative.
Visit the school. Whether you do this virtually or visit campus in person, it doesn't matter. You just want to be on the admissions office's radar, and this is another way to do that.
Use your essays. A lot of colleges ask the same essay questions (especially when using the Common App). Make sure that you're individualizing those essays even if you're answering the same question. Reference a specific class you're excited to take at [insert school here], talk about a campus event or extracurricular at [insert school here], or talk about a professor you're interested in taking courses from at [insert school here]. You can use the same meat and potatoes but have some plug ‘n play portions to reference the school you're applying to directly.
Apply Early Decision. This is probably the best way to demonstrate interest in a school. But only apply Early Decision if you're sure that the school is right for you, and you'll be happy with the financial aid package they give you.
Email an admissions officer. This one comes with a major caveat, though. Make sure you have a good question or reason for emailing. If you don't, you're just spamming the admissions office, and they won't look upon that too kindly. If you have a good reason, make sure you use an email with a professional address, use complete sentences, address the admissions officer correctly, and sign off with your full name.
To find the email address for an admission representative, you can check out the school's admissions website. There's usually a list of contact information there.
None of these options for demonstrated interest are in any particular order, so pick and choose the ones that work well for you. Check off the low-hanging fruits, like following the college on social media and opening emails, and then plot out a few more.
However, the non-negotiable on the list is using your essays to express your interest and desire to attend the schools on your list. You should always personalize your essays for the school they're being submitted to, and if you do it right, that doesn't have to be a huge lift.
How Do Colleges See or Track Demonstrated Interest?
Admission professionals at schools that value demonstrated interest regularly evaluate whether or not their applicants are engaged and dedicated to the school. As we outlined above, when you follow the social media accounts and open emails from your dream schools, the admissions officers can track that.
The same holds true for emailing your admissions officers or taking a campus visit. They are aware of whether or not you're engaging. Just as you probably know who's creeping into your social accounts, the colleges track demonstrated interest.
Demonstrated Interest Colleges
Not all colleges consider demonstrated interest important. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) reports every year on the state of college admissions, and the most recent report cites that 13.7% of colleges consider demonstrated interest of considerable importance. Another 25.5% said that it has moderate importance.
Outside of the colleges listed below, plenty also consider demonstrated interest when making admission decisions. But these colleges deem it either important or very important. On the plus side, it can't hurt to show demonstrated interest, so you may as well follow some social media accounts, open some emails, and join a webinar or two!
Remember: as much as you like feeling special, colleges and universities like to feel special, too!
Not all colleges disclose whether it's important or not, but some do. The following are known to consider demonstrated interest in the admissions process:
Christopher Newport University
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Evergreen State College
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida Southern College
Georgia College and State University
High Point University
Loyola University Chicago
Michigan State University
And more include...
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Seton Hall University
St. John’s College-Annapolis
St. John’s College-Santa Fe
SUNY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry
The College of Wooster
Thomas Aquinas College
University of Arizona
University of Dayton
University of Evansville
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
University of North Carolina-Asheville
University of Tulsa
Wheaton College (MA)