The Importance Of Demonstrated Interest

“Demonstrated interest,” or doing things to show a school that you are genuinely interested in attending, is one way that some schools gauge a student’s true interest level in a school. The primary goal of demonstrated interest is for your admissions rep to know who you are while reading your application. 

A recent study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling indicated that more than 20% of colleges said they place considerable importance on a student's demonstrated interest (about the same number said it's unimportant), and 34% said it's of moderate importance. Demonstrated interest is valuable to colleges because it predicts the likelihood that a student will enroll if admitted to the college. Bear in mind that demonstrated interest is less of a factor at highly selective colleges, where there is generally an assumption that all applicants are highly interested in attending.


  1. Correspond with your college admissions representative: Create a relationship by asking questions and letting your rep get to know you. Also, be sure to follow up with your rep after any contact. 
  2. Open emails from colleges (the ones you are interested in): Colleges track if a student opens an email, so this is an easy way to show interest.
  3. Attend college events in your area: If there is a chance to get your face in front of a rep from a school of interest to you, take it! This may mean attending a college fair or a college tour event at your school (or another school). Be sure to complete contact cards at any event you attend.
  4. Join the mailing list: Consider participating in social media networking or online chats hosted by the college.
  5. Visit the school and interview: The college visit is just as much about YOU learning about the school as it is an opportunity for them to learn about you. If possible, schedule an interview or an informal meeting with your admissions rep while there.
  6.  Email with a professor: Though not appropriate in every circumstance, it sometimes makes sense to send specific questions about a department or course offering directly to a professor. In this case, you may want to ask your admissions rep for a contact.

Critical Tip: Colleges often subtract interest points for parents reaching out to admissions offices. This is a great time for your student to learn these networking skills.

Demonstrated Interest is NOT:

  • Emailing your rep with a question that can be answered by visiting the school’s website
  • Only signing up for the mailing list
  • Being a pest (emailing your rep weekly, calling multiple times, having your parents call multiple times, etc.)
  • Avoiding “optional” supplemental essays


  • Carnegie Mellon: "Admission Interviews are a great supplement to an information session and tour of campus, and allow a prospective student to get a personalized introduction to campus and the unique world-class education offered at Carnegie Mellon. An admission decision will not be based off of this interview; it is looked upon as demonstrated interest in the application process."
  • Baylor: "We seek those who can gain the most from a Baylor experience, for students with a demonstrated interest in becoming a 'Baylor Bear'."
  • Rhodes College: "Your overall campus visit indicates demonstrated interest and will play a considerable role in the admissions decision-making process."
  • Trinity University: "Visiting campus, emailing or calling an admissions counselor, attending a Trinity In Focus program, talking with a representative when they visit your high school, and stopping by our table at a college fair are some of the ways to show the Admissions Committee that you are genuinely interested in attending Trinity, and help us get to know you better."


3 Steps to Making the Most of College Visits to a High School

From test prep to piling on the AP classes and taking on leadership roles, the college admissions spotlight is truly on the junior year. Which also happens to be a wonderful time to start connecting with colleges as you begin your college search. One of the best (and stress free!) ways to learn about colleges is to attend the college representative presentations right at your high school. Typically, schools publish a list of the visits each semester, so take the time to add a few schools of interest to your calendar. If you are unsure if and when any schools are visiting your campus, stop by your college counselor’s office and ask!

These visits give students the chance to hear about a college without having to travel and miss school. The other huge benefit of these visits is that the rep who visits will most likely be the first person who reads your application. With demonstrated interest becoming a bigger and bigger deal at many campuses, you shouldn’t discount the importance of making early connections with schools on your radar. With a little advance planning, these high school visits can have a big payoff down the road.

Here are 3 tips for getting the most out of these visits:

  1. Show up: Seriously, many students think they are too busy to attend these fantastic opportunities. Don’t make this mistake--go!

  2. Ask questions: Prior to the visit, take a little time to research the college. Come prepared with a few questions for the rep. Appropriate questions are anything you cannot find on the website or questions about things on the website where you want additional information.

  3. Follow up: If you liked the college and plan to apply, follow up with the rep. You can send an email thanking them for their presentation and expressing your continued interest in the college. While handwritten notes are wonderful, emails are easier for them to put in your file. Don’t forget to keep the rep’s information so you can email additional questions as you have them.

Happy College Exploring!

Inside UT Austin Admissions Event September 21

We are thrilled to host an informational session on Thursday, September 21 with Alexandra Billick, Director of the Undergraduate Admissions Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Alexandra will discuss the latest information about admissions and academics at UT Austin, as well as answer your pressing questions. 

This event is open to parents & students, and will be from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. at the Hotel Granduca Austin. Space is limited, so reserve your seats now to gather inside information in an intimate setting from an admissions leader. 

6 Financial Aid Terms Every Parent Should Understand

Heading off to college is exciting (maybe a little more for the student than the parents).  On the other hand, wondering how you’re going to pay for the next four or so years of your life can be pretty daunting. Here are 7 terms that can help parents navigate the confusion of financial aid:

  1. Expected family contribution: This is a term used in the college financial aid process in the United States to determine an applicant’s eligibility for need-based federal student aid, and in many cases, state and college aid. The expected family contribution (or EFC) is an estimate of the parents’ and/or student’s ability to contribute to college expenses.
  2. Demonstrated need: This is the difference between your EFC and the cost of attendance. In other words, it’s what you need in order to attend college that you or your family can’t afford to pay.
  3. Net price: This is the price of college minus tuition discounts, scholarships, grants, etc. This is usually far less than the advertised price for private colleges.
  4. Need-aware admission: Need-aware is a term used to describe colleges who consider applicants’ ability to pay when accepting or denying their application to attend.
  5. Education Tax Benefits: These are tax-deductible benefits you can receive when families file taxes, based on what you paid for college. Some examples:  The Hope Scholarship tax credit, Lifetime Learning tax credit and the student loan interest deduction.
  6. Direct PLUS loan: Federal loans available to parents or to graduate/professional students. The interest rate is higher than other loans available to undergraduate students, and borrowing limits are much higher. They’re also frequently called Parent PLUS loans, and they’re the only federal student loans that require a credit check.

3 Tips To Make an Effective Testing Plan

Testing prep season is starting for many students. Here are 3 tips from our friend Megan Phillips at Endeavor Academics will help you tailor a plan for your student that will minimize stress as much as possible.

  • Start Early: Every fall, we hear from stressed seniors who wish they hadn’t waited to prepare.  They are juggling college applications, homework and extracurricular activities, so adding testing to the mix feels impossible. Starting to prepare junior year will give your student plenty of time to study and several options for test dates.
  • Consider Your Student's Schedule: We sometimes get calls from parents who are concerned that their student’s testing timeline is different from a classmate’s plan.  Choosing which dates to test should be based on your child’s goals and their travel, academic, and extracurricular schedules.  If your son or daughter runs cross country or stars in the December play, fall might not be the ideal time to test.  Sit down with your child and your calendars and look at the available dates.  Do the dates fall near finals?  Will you be out of town for sports or vacation on any of the dates?  Strategize about the best test and plan your preparation schedule backward from there.  
  • Choose the Right Test for Your Student: Schools across the country accept both the ACT and SAT.  As a result, some families decide to prepare for both tests, but choosing the right test from the beginning will save time, money, and stress.  To be sure you are choosing well, have your student take a full-length practice test for both exams.  You can find those online or reach out to us for copies or to schedule a proctored test.  Once you have the data from both tests, you can compare to determine the best fit.

You can find a practice SAT here: