Throughout your college admissions process, you may keep bumping into this nebulous term, demonstrated interest.
Unlike the many other pieces of the insane jigsaw puzzle that is applying to college, this aspect of the process is entirely within your control.
How wonderful is that?!
You demonstrate your interest in a school by focusing on:
- Being Authentic
- Creating Connections
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves into the nitty-gritty of how to do that, let’s have a quick definition of what we’re even talking about.
What Is Demonstrated Interest?
Demonstrated interest is the measurement of how much enthusiasm a student has shown for attending a particular college.
In other words, many schools give each prospective student a score based on how eager they seem to attend that particular school, how likely they are to accept an offer of admittance.
Admittedly, not every school considers it as part of their selection process.
How much each school emphasizes it also differs.
However, this should not stop you from utilizing it as an essential part of your college admissions process regardless of where you are applying to.
You learn an incredible amount of essential knowledge about the school by engaging with its admissions office.
Sometimes a student will have their eye on a famous school, but in doing their research or engaging with the current student body, they discover the school is not the best option for them.
What great information to have!
Now you can save yourself time (and application fees!) by only pursuing schools that will truly be a cinderella’s-glass-slipper-type perfect fit for you.
Also, demonstrated interest is a rapidly increasing trend across the country, so the number of schools utilizing it will probably increase every year.
A college admissions survey done by the National Association for College Admission Counseling revealed that 68% of colleges now place importance on demonstrated interest (which is a huge increase over the last decade).
Additionally, a closer read of this survey shows that demonstrated interest is measurably more important to a larger number of schools than recommendations, class rank, or extracurricular activities.
If you have more questions on the whys and wherefores of this subject, you can read this article that goes even more in-depth on what demonstrated interest is and why it matters.
If you do go read it though, be sure to come back and peruse the rest of this article as well.
We’re going to peel back the curtain and give you a better sense of how demonstrated interest can be your awesome secret weapon every step of the way through this college-admissions-land game (whether or not the college you have your sights on actively tracks it).
How Do Colleges Track Demonstrated Interest?
Every school is different, and therefore each will have its own ways of tracking, scoring, and prioritizing demonstrated interest.
Some go to great efforts to build systems for noting how students reveal their eagerness to attend (or not) by investing in hardcore software programs to track interactions and placing greater importance on interviews/one-on-one contacts.
They have a huge amount of potential revenue on the line.
They want to be able to predict how many students would say yes to an offer to join the incoming class.
Plus every good admissions office desperately wants to match the right students to their “right” schools.
They don’t want to attract students that aren’t going to thrive at their school.
But just because each school has different preferences, doesn’t mean you can’t create and execute a solid plan to demonstrate your interest.
We have an awesome list of possibilities that can work for anyone.
Mix and match the options below to get to know your prospective schools and let them get to know you.
18 Ways You Can Show Demonstrated Interest
Ideally, you always want to be true to yourself and put your best foot forward.
There is no reason you can’t employ all of these suggestions, but no requirement that says you have to do all of them.
Regardless of whether you’re shy or gung-ho, there are options here that should make every student feel comfortable while also allowing you to get more information about your possible future.
Plus, if you gather information this way, you’ll have a much more specific answer to “why you want to attend” when it comes time to write those application essays.
As you try these out, it’s best to aim somewhere in the middle of the scale between seeming aloof or seeming obsessed - neither extreme will earn you the coveted offer letter. Do push yourself to be actively and bravely participating in the possibilities, but don’t be so passionately over-the-top as to scare the admissions officers with your intensity.
Find your happy middle-point of excitement and try out these options that might just be the difference between you getting into your dream school and being stuck on the waitlist.
After all, if all things are equal between you and another student, wouldn’t you choose the one who seemed the most interested in attending?
Quietly Effective Strategies:
- Fill out their contact form.
Everyone these days will have a newsletter or a way for sending out alerts and important information to anyone who is interested in future attendance. Make sure you’re signed up for it.
- Open all emails from the school
You could create a special email alert or a digital folder for your prospective college emails. These offices are not going to intentionally try to spam or bug you -- they want to convince you to come to their school!
So read all the emails and don’t miss out on any of the cool opportunities they might offer. This is also an incredibly easy way to show you care about getting into their school.
- Click-through the links included in emails
When you do get emails, follow through with what those emails are suggesting you might want to do. They may give you some fun ideas of other ways to demonstrate your interest, they may connect you with other prospective students, or they may just give you an extra brownie point with the admissions office.
Either way, it’s a quick push of a button that is usually tracked just like whether or not you opened the emails.
- Follow the school on social media
Pay special attention to information about student housing, campus life, and any departments that you have an interest in (they will usually also have their own separate social media).
*Very important note: Remember that the social media door swings both ways.*
That is to say, if you are able to check them out, they are able to check you out too. Make sure the pictures and messages you display on your own social media platforms are representative of the kind of person/student you want them to see.
- Do your own research
Sometimes just checking out the website can get you registered in their system. So even if you know students that are currently attending, still poke-around online.
Plus, most colleges are very transparent in what they display online. You can learn a lot there.
- Take a virtual tour
Look around. See what the school feels like, see whether you can picture yourself there among the buildings and students shown there. These are often tracked as well.
- Register and attend virtual information sessions
If you can’t get there in person to meet with the admissions office, don’t worry. There is no penalty for that. Simply figure out how to engage online- they’ll know you’re there and interested.
- Attend an open house
Take the opportunity to sniff out the place by visiting in person. This is not a high-pressure type situation, just an opportunity for you to get a feel for the school.
- Apply early
Not waiting until the last minute is a strong signal to them that you mean business. Bonus, it will save you the stress of having to rush last minute to put your application together. While your friends are freaking out, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the rest of your school year.
More Assertive Strategies:
- Attend events
Say hi to the admissions officers at college fairs, see a performance and send a follow-up note about anything you enjoyed in the performance to any contacts you have.
Admissions officers are some of the loveliest people who adore connecting with potential students. So if you have any questions that aren’t easily answered by looking on the homepage of the school’s website, go ahead and reach out.
If you are good on the phone and would like to chat or follow up with something, schedule a call with the admissions office to engage more personally with them.
- Request to be connected with a professor, student, or alumnus who has knowledge about your area(s) of interest
Admissions officers only know so much -- jump into the trenches with the people you’d be likely spending every day with if you get in.
- Attend an open class or workshop
Experience what it feels like to really go to school at that college.
- Do an on-campus visit
Get to know the place and the admissions people who will be leading the tour.
- Complete an admissions interview
Remember that it’s not just about impressing them, you’re interviewing them too. This is an in-depth chance to see if they’re a good fit for your own goals, priorities, and sense of belonging.
- Stay for an overnight visit
Nothing like spending “a day in the life of” to know in your bones whether or not you can spend four whole years of your life in that place.
- Apply early-decision (ED) or early-action (EA)
If you apply early decision to a school, you are then agreeing to attend if you are offered admittance and you must withdraw your applications from all other schools. This might increase your chances of getting accepted because you are signaling how serious you are about their school, but it does mean you are locked in if you get in.
If you apply early action, you still have the option to choose that school or another. It still signals that you are very interested and serious about that school, so you will be notified earlier than the rest of the applicant pool as to whether or not you were accepted.
Things To Avoid
- Don’t overdo it. Be reasonable.
- Don’t lie. Be yourself.
- Don’t stress. Be confident.
Remember, college admissions officers do this for a living. They will see through anything you do that isn’t earnest or sincere, and they won’t respond favorably to it.
Additionally, don’t use this as a substitute for doing the rest of the admissions work. This is just one important, helpful element in this process.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Whether you are stressed about the rest of your application, confused about standardized testing, or feeling lost in the woods of how to build a career path, please reach out to us.
Colleges That Track Demonstrated Interest
You have a million other things going on right now, so to make it a little easier on you, we’ve created this list of 250+ colleges and universities that track demonstrated interest and how much that factors into each school’s decision-making process regarding admissions.
If a school you’re considering isn’t on this list, you can still easily find the information for which colleges track demonstrated interest.
Google the school’s “common data set” and you’ll be armed with a whole slew of useful details about exactly what they’re looking for in an applicant.
The Next Step After Learning How To Demonstrate Interest
You want to be sure that all of this information you’re gathering stays organized and useful for you.
We have created the March Consulting Spreadsheet Research Tracker to help you track your own interest as actively as the colleges do!
This way you’ll be able to tally, score and note away.
What did you like about your interactions with the school? What could be improved on? What were you left wondering about that you might be able to follow up with?
If you still have questions or want more help, send us a quick message. Let us know how we can assist you with marching forward into your incredible future!