“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.
EXAMPLES OF DEMONSTRATED INTEREST
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Join the mailing list: Consider participating in social media networking or online chats hosted by the college.
- 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.
- 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
WHAT ADMISSIONS DIRECTORS SAY ABOUT DEMONSTRATED INTEREST
- 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."