What Demonstrated Interest Means & Why It’s Important
When you start applying to college, you’ll often hear plenty about all the things you should be doing to demonstrate your interest in attending each college you apply to. For many students, this can feel like a huge task that includes many moving parts. Should you attend every recruiting event to show your interest? Do you need to sign-up with every school at the college fair?
Thankfully, when you break down the concept of demonstrated interest, it’s often a lot easier to show your interest than it appears at first glance. We’ve done the research into how you can best show your passion for attending a college to admission officials so you can rest easy.
What Is Demonstrated Interest?
First of all, you should know that not every college considers demonstrated interest in their admission decision. However, of those that do, many weigh your demonstrated interest heavily in addition to your academics, extracurricular activities, and essay responses.
Demonstrated interest, at its most basic level, refers to actions that you take to show a serious level of enthusiasm toward attending the college you’re applying to. These actions are hard to quantify and nearly impossible to properly show off on your application. However, for schools that consider demonstrated interest, it can be a key part of your chances of being admitted.
You can easily find information about how a college measures demonstrated interest by searching their common data set to find how a college ranks the relative importance of academic and nonacademic factors, including the “level of the applicant’s interest.” Upon Googling “Tulane University common data set,” we learn in Section C7 of the report that Tulane does consider the level of an applicant’s interest when making admissions decisions. If you have trouble finding this information there, reach out to the admissions office in an email (asking about everything they take into consideration, not just demonstrated interest) or talk with your college counselor.
Note: one of the reasons that demonstrated interest is not used as a measurement by every college is due to its tendency to favor students with the means to make multiple visits to a college and its recruiting events, whether their advantage is geographic or financial. Even colleges that use demonstrated interest in their decisions are aware of this - so don’t panic if you can’t make a huge show of interest due to your circumstances.
What Are the Best Ways to Demonstrate Interest in A College?
While strong demonstrated interest won’t make up for a weak application, it can play a critical role in your chances of being admitted. We’ve outlined the most powerful ways you can demonstrate interest below; work with your college counselor to create a plan that works for your schedule and level of interest in a college.
Get on the school’s email list by visiting the undergraduate admission pages on their website and looking for links such as “mailing list,” “request information,” etc. This should take you no longer than a minute or two and is an easy, non-negotiable first step. Not only will you easily be demonstrating interest, but you are guaranteeing that you will receive important admissions information from that college including details about additional ways to demonstrate interest through local events and interview opportunities.
Visiting a college is the most classic way of demonstrating interest, and it’s one of the most recommended because of its usefulness to you as a student. There’s so much more to a college than it’s possible to write about on a website or in a pamphlet. By visiting a college in-person, you can gain a much better understanding of what it may be like to study there.
Additionally, showing up on campus is one of the biggest commitments a student can make to a college they’re applying to. Not only do you generally have to jump through hoops to get an excused absence for school, but you also have to schedule your own college tour and arrange your own transportation to the college. Because all of these things are on you, the student, it’s a great way to show how enthusiastic you are about attending a college.
Another traditional way to demonstrate interest is to interact with a college during college fairs. During your junior and senior year, you’ll often be inundated with these future-focused fairs, and you’ll often have plenty of chances to speak with representatives and sign up for the college’s email list. (Even if you’re already subscribed, be sure to sign up again if only to provide a paper trail for your interaction with the college at the fair!)
Online webinars and other recruitment-based events are a great way for students to demonstrate interest without having to miss school or shell out the money required for a campus visit. Many schools offer these events specifically as an effort to “even the playing field” to give more students a chance to show their enthusiasm.
These events can be extremely informative and they’re easier to attend than a college fair. If it’s a live event scheduled during the school day, work with your teachers and guidance counselor ahead of time to arrange a quiet space for you to use.
Another note on online interaction: open every email you receive from a college. Common email marketing software can show which emails a user opens, and many colleges use this software as a soft way of measuring interest.
Applying to a school under their early decision deadline is the most powerful way to demonstrate interest - but it comes with a large trade-off. When you apply to a school via early decision, you commit to attending the college if accepted and you must withdraw any other applications you’ve submitted. As the name implies, you’ll have earlier deadlines to submit your application and will receive an earlier response.
If the college you’re extremely serious about attending offers early decision, you should talk to your counselor to learn more about how it may benefit you to apply this way, and of course, have a very serious discussion with your parents about this binding commitment.
Your Engagement With A College Matters
For many colleges that consider demonstrated interest, every interaction between a student and the college is given some weight. This is why you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to their admissions or recruitment office with questions - just be sure to ask questions you can’t find the answer to with a quick search through their website.
When you show real enthusiasm about applying to a college, it’s easy to spot. You’ll have plenty of questions for your guide through the college tour, you’ll make a point of opening emails and corresponding with admissions officials, and you’ll show real investment in your essay responses about the school you’re applying to.
You should make a point to show your enthusiasm for a school at every chance you get, but it’s nothing to worry or panic over. Do your best to let your genuine excitement show in every interaction you have with a college, and your interest will be noted.