A lot of buzzwords surround the college application process, and one that comes up frequently is “demonstrated interest.” Colleges use this term in admissions as a way to measure the level of curiosity and excitement a given student shows in regard to a particular school. Many admissions officers feel that a higher level of demonstrated interest means a greater chance a student will ultimately enroll at their university if offered admission. The exact impact the criterion of demonstrated interest has on admissions is difficult to measure, but in a 2017 report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 13.7 percent of colleges rated demonstrated interest as having considerable importance in freshman admissions decisions, and another 25.5 percent labeled it as moderately important.
Although one of the strongest ways to indicate interest in a school is with a campus visit and an interview with an admissions officer, this isn’t always economically or logistically feasible. However, there are many other ways for students to show serious interest in a college, and Green Ivy has compiled some examples to consider below:
Create a track record of consistent contact. Do all you can to show up and interact with representatives from the schools you are most interested in. If an admissions officer presents at your high school, attend the session and, if possible, introduce yourself afterwards. The same goes for regional college fairs, webinars, and posting questions to admissions officers on social media. All of these contacts will both help you learn more about a university and show that you are genuinely interested in potentially attending.
Speaking of consistent contact: Open all the emails colleges send you. Oftentimes, admissions are tracking these emails, so they can see who opens them and who doesn’t. If you are curious about a school, it’s worth your time to click and read what they have to say.
Do your research and write strong, specific “why” essays and supplements, if applicable. If a school asks you, “Why us?” the best way to show you are serious is to spend a good amount of time researching what the school offers students academically, socially, and community-wise. By capturing what you find most interesting about a college and mentioning those specific details in your supplement—whether that’s working with a professor who is doing advanced research on gene therapy or joining the school’s Green Team Recycling Club—this will show the admissions office that you’ve done your homework.
Apply Early Action or Early Decision. Applying Early Action or Early Decision can be one way to show demonstrated interest, but in our work with students, we advise them on early applications on an individual basis. For instance, Early Action may be appropriate for a student who wants to have some admissions results by mid-December, and has a GPA and test scores that are in a school’s matrix, but doesn’t want to be obligated to that school. By contrast, Early Decision is a larger overall admissions decision, since it is binding, meaning that if you are accepted to the college, you are required to attend. We recommend that students apply Early Decision only if the school is their top choice and they are in the target (or above) range for the school’s admissions standards.