What Does “Demonstrated Interest” Mean?
You may have heard of the term “student’s demonstrated interest” before when reading about college admission factors. You may have also wondered just what precisely the phrase means.
In truth, it means exactly what it sounds like. It refers to your level of interest for attending a certain college, as perceived by that college.
In other words, many colleges actually weigh how much attention you’ve given to their school and the level of enthusiasm you’ve shown about attending. Do you seem more passionate about attending their school over others? Do you show genuine curiosity about their campus life, resources, and mission statement?
Why Demonstrated Interest Matters to Colleges
Why do so many colleges care about this?
It’s simple — college admission officers are trying to predict the likelihood that, if accepted into their university, you would actually attend come Fall.
Colleges want to have a high yield rate, when it comes to admissions. A college’s yield rate is the percentage of accepted students who actually attend.
A high yield rate increases the prestige and ranking of a college. As a result, for many schools, it’s highly important that admission officers have a strong sense of an accepted student’s probability of enrolling. If enrollment numbers drop and yield rates declines, the school’s reputation could follow.
Why Demonstrated Interest Matters For You
If a college heavily considers student’s demonstrated interest, then your demonstrated interest – or lack thereof- will affect your chances of admission!
While demonstrated interest isn’t as important as grades or test scores, if an admissions officer is comparing your application to someone else’s with a similar resume, your demonstrated interest could be the difference between rejection and acceptance.
That’s why it’s important to know if your prospective college(s) considers student’s demonstrated interest and if so, to have a strategic plan to show your interest.
For the former, check out our master list of colleges that rank demonstrated interest as “very important”, “important”, “somewhat important”, and “not important.”
For a strategic plan, read below our 5 easy ways to show your prospective college how much you want to attend!
#1. Schedule a campus visit
Campus visits to your prospective college is one of the most direct ways to show a school that you are highly interested in attending. By taking the time and making the sacrifices to travel to a school and thoroughly check it out, you are showing an admissions officer that you are actively seeking information about the school and exploring to see whether it’s a good fit.
Plus, if the college campus is not far from you and you don’t bother to visit, it could potentially create a negative impression.
If you do pay the campus a visit, make sure the college knows it! Make a record of your visit by signing up for campus tours, finding out if you can sit-in on a class, and/or meet with a student representative. If your research shows you can actually meet with an admission representative, don’t pass up the opportunity to meet face-to-face!
If you do set up a meeting, make sure to prepare and treat it as a formal interview. You ideally want to showcase to the representative your knowledge about the school.
#2. Take advantage of opportunities in your area
For many students, a college visit may not be feasible either because the visit is too expensive or too far away.
Attend a regional college fair or information session. Look for college fairs in your area or even at your high school. Admission representative attend these events, and this is a great opportunity for you to meet with one and show your interest early on.
Come prepared with informed questions (ones you can’t easily find online), and be ready to impress. This admission representative may play a major role in your acceptance if you make a strong impression. Keep the rep’s contact information so you can email him or her a personalized thank you note or to ask further questions after the fair.
Some high schools even have admission representatives come to their campus to visit with students. Ask your guidance counselor if any representatives are coming to your school. If so, seize the opportunity to set up a one-on-one meeting.
Furthermore, check your prospective college’s website to see if they hold any alumni interviews in your area. Many schools have alumnus conduct interviews in regional areas for students who may be too far to visit the campus. When you sign up for an alumni interview, again, treat it exactly as you would an official admission representative — be prepared and ready to impress.
#3. Use online resources
Online is an easy way for you to connect with a prospective university and demonstrate your interest.
Sign up for the college’s email list, whether it be their general subscriber list, a specific group, or their weekly newsletter. However, don’t stop at subscribing. Some colleges check your level of engagement with their emails, such as how many emails you open and whether you click through any of the links. So make sure you actually open and engage with the emails as much as you can!
You can also start following a college’s Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook page.
Some schools even offer free webinars that you can sign up for in lieu of actually visiting the campus. Your webinar attendance will be recorded and is another simple yet effective way that showcases your eagerness to learn more about the college.
Furthermore, you can actually reach out to admission officers through email. While you don’t want to fill up their inbox with a slew of emails, an email asking a few informed questions is a great way to show your efforts to connect. Don’t be afraid to explain to an admissions officer why you are unable to visit the campus and to ask for further information.
In any email you send, be polite, brief, and professional. Always proofread, and make sure your email is free of any grammatical errors.
#4. Write a strong “Why Our School” essay
In addition to your other application essays, many colleges require a supplementary statement that answers the question: why do you want to attend our school?
This is another great way to illustrate your enthusiasm for a prospective college.
Here are 3 quick tips to writing a compelling response:
- Be as specific as possible. You want to demonstrate that you have researched this school, know what it has to offer and just how your interest and its resources align. Avoid general statements such as “This school offers a great education.” Instead, mention specific programs, activities, research, or professors that have attracted your interest.
- Don’t quote their website. Quoting statistics or descriptions of the school from the first page of its website is yawn-inducing and superficial.
- Mention your campus visit, alumni interview, or college fair attendance. It’s okay to remind an admission officer of the ways you’ve demonstrated interest by noting how your interactions with the school or its representatives may have impacted your decision.
#5. Apply early
Applying Early Decision or Early Action creates an impression that you are a serious applicant that is highly likely to attend upon acceptance.
Early Action is a non-binding application that is completed by November rather than January. While colleges officially state that Early Action does not increase your admission chances, statistically, students who apply Early Action have higher acceptance rates than those who apply Regular Decision. By applying to a school during its early round of admissions, you are sending the message that you are eager to attend.
Early Decision is a binding application that is also completed by November. It is binding because you sign a statement before completing your application that if you are accepted Early Decision, you will attend. This is obviously a big commitment, and therefore, it’s a huge way to demonstrate your interest to a college.
However, because it is binding, only apply Early Decision to your #1 college choice.
Follow these 5 easy tips and you are sure to impress admission officers with your curiosity and enthusiasm for their school.
If you need more expert guidance on how to get into your dream school, explore our one-on-one college counseling program: Roadmap to College!
We guide students and parents step-by-step through the college application process, and have helped hundreds of students get into Ivy League and other top universities.
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