Demonstrated Interest: How To Show Colleges You Care

Demonstrated interest is a hot topic within college admission circles these days.  It’s become clear that a growing number of colleges are using demonstrated interest as a tool when deciding which students to accept. So, what exactly is demonstrated interest?

Demonstrated interest is how certain colleges track if you’ve taken the time to truly research their school and how likely you are to enroll, if accepted. Many colleges automatically track a wide variety of behaviors, ranging from taking an official campus tour to interacting with the college through social media. The degree of this behavior is then quantified and taken into account when determining an admissions decision.  

Why do colleges care about demonstrated interest?  The world of higher education is changing rapidly.  Many colleges are reporting a record number of applicants each year.  Demonstrated interest is a way for colleges to separate the applicants that sincerely want to be admitted from those who randomly applied to a bunch of colleges without doing any research to make sure it’s a true fit. Additional reasons have to do with enrollment management, which is essentially a set of strategies colleges use to ensure they are meeting their enrollment goals. Demonstrated interest helps colleges determine how many acceptances they should send out, how many students will actually enroll, etc.  

How do I demonstrate my interest? It’s been confirmed that quite a few colleges track the following:

  • Attending an official college tour and/or information session

  • Participating in an overnight campus program

  • Interview with the admissions office or alumni

  • Reaching out to your region’s admissions rep via email

  • Visiting the admissions rep at a college fair or other local event

  • Sending thank you emails after meeting each admissions rep

  • Following the college on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter

  • Interacting with the college through social media (comment, like posts, etc.)

  • Adding yourself to the college’s mailing list

  • Opening emails from the college & clicking on a few links in the email

  • Spending 15 - 20 minutes looking through the college’s website

  • Showing your knowledge of the college through the supplemental essay

  • Applying early

Should I demonstrate my interest to every school on my list? While you should try to visit each school that is on your list, it’s certainly not necessary to spend the time demonstrating interest to 10+ schools. Once your college list is finalized, determine which 3-5 schools are at the top of your list and focus your energy on these schools.  

When demonstrating interest, it’s very important to remember not to go overboard.  You don’t want to bombard a college’s admissions counselor with daily emails. Make sure that you’re genuine when interacting with the college.  Are you wondering if they will be attending any local events and it’s not listed on their website? That’s a great reason to reach out to your region’s admission counselor.  Perhaps you’re interested in engineering and the college posted about a new engineering program on their social media account - that’s an awesome reason to comment and try to find out more information. Staying authentic will also help the admissions counselor understand if the college will be a great fit for you!