Recently, I listened to a webinar by a college admissions representative about “demonstrated interest.” This is a term use by colleges for tracking students’ interaction with them through visits, emails, interviews and other means. For some of the most selective schools like the Ivy League universities and for large public universities, demonstrated interest isn’t relative.
But for many other schools, especially private liberal arts colleges and medium-sized selective schools, demonstrated interest plays a larger and larger role as schools try to make the best match with applicants in order to “yield” a full freshman class.
First point—students should not panic about demonstrated interest. It is not hard to show and it is not a critical part of the admissions process. But it is a way for students to learn more about the schools that interest them and to develop strong self-advocacy skills.
Here are some ways that students can “demonstrate interest” in the schools they are considering:
- Fill out an inquiry card when you attend a college fair or presentation.
- Make a campus visit and be sure to log in at the admissions office.
- Send an email to the admissions office or admissions rep to ask a specific question about the college’s curriculum or other programs.
- Attend an information session at your high school or another regional location.
- Speak with a current student or alumnus.
- Interview with an alumnus or an admissions representative (not all schools offer this option).
- Email or meet with a faculty member in the academic department of your interest.
- Open marketing interviews sent from the school. (Yes, schools can track which students open their emails!)
- Apply Early Action (EA) or Early Decision (ED).
- Show familiarity with the school and a personal interest in its programs in your supplemental essays.
How is demonstrated interest important for the student?
Students who carefully research the schools that interest them and visit the school either actually or virtually end up making a stronger fit with the schools on their college list. They can often reduce the overall number of applications they submit, and they are better prepared for interviews and other interactions with college admissions representatives.
Overall, by learning to advocate for themselves and to communicate their academic and extra-curricular interest to others, students gain valuable experience in self-presentation and self-confidence.