How to Show Demonstrated Interest for College

Just because you sent in your application doesn’t mean that the college or university will assume that you are certain to attend if accepted. Many institutions consider things that can reveal an applicant’s level of commitment. In order to increase your chances of getting accepted, in some instances, showing your interest is a good idea.

Applicants can demonstrate their interest in college in many ways. They range anywhere from visiting the school’s website, joining the mailing list to getting in touch with the admissions office. Other forms of demonstrated interest are attending taking a campus tour and applying early.

Can’t wait to start showing how interested you are to attend your top-choice school? Read on.

Before we talk about how you can show demonstrated interest throughout the college application process in an assortment of ways, let’s get a couple of pressing questions answered first…

harvard university

Do Prestigious Schools Consider Demonstrated Interest?

Generally, large and well-known institutions such as flagships, state colleges and prestigious schools do not care about demonstrated interest. Usually, demonstrated interest is one of the admissions factors at smaller and not-so-selective schools. But, as always, there are exceptions to the rule.

Because different schools consider different admissions factors, you can rest assured that not every institution on your college list takes demonstrated interest into account.

It’s not uncommon for massive public universities or state colleges to disregard demonstrated interest.

That’s because they are well-aware of the fact that all available slots will be filled given that the majority of degree-seeking students in the country opt for them.

As a matter of fact, according to data from EducationData.org, 79% of all undergraduate students and 60% of all graduate students in the US attend public schools.

Besides four-year public institutions that get a lot of applicants per year, many top-notch colleges and universities do not care at all about demonstrated interest, too.

The reason for this is simple: prestigious schools, which tend to have some of the lowest acceptance rates in the land, assume that students who apply to them are interested in attending. Because of their high selectivity level, chances are that those who dare apply to them despite the risk of getting rejected are willing to commit.

However, as mentioned earlier, there are always exceptions to the rule.

It’s no secret that some of the most elite and selective colleges and universities in the country are the Ivy Leagues. But if you believe that all of these schools disregard demonstrated interest in the admissions process, think again.

While some Ivy Leagues do not care about demonstrated interest at all, others do.

This means that their admissions officers have a penchant for applicants who not only have strong overall applications, especially academic profile-wise, but also demonstrate in one or more ways that they are interested in earning a degree from them.

Let’s take a look at the different Ivy Leagues and the relative importance of demonstrated interest in their respective admissions process, based on their most recent Common Data Sets:

NAMERELATIVE IMPORTANCE
Brown UniversityNot considered
Cornell UniversityNot considered
Columbia UniversityNot considered
Dartmouth CollegeConsidered
Harvard UniversityNot considered
Princeton UniversityConsidered
University of PennsylvaniaConsidered
Yale UniversityNot Considered

Can You Demonstrate Interest After Applying?

At colleges and universities where demonstrated interest matters in the admissions process, students can keep demonstrating their interest even after submitting their applications. Some common examples include attending the interview if offered or following up immediately after being waitlisted.

There are many ways through which college-bound teens can demonstrate their interest in colleges and universities, and we will talk about them in a few — so don’t stop reading now.

It’s true that showing one’s interest in attending a school is best done before applying to it.

However, the demonstration of your willingness to commit to your top-choice institution doesn’t have to start and end before sending in that application.

You can keep establishing your interest even after applying. As a matter of fact, demonstrating interest is still possible even after receiving an admissions decision!

One very good example of demonstrating your interest in a school is participating in the admissions interview if invited. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to express how much you want to go to the institution as well as prove to the college or university that you are the freshman student it’s looking for exactly.

As mentioned earlier, you can also demonstrate your interest after receiving a letter from the school.

Told that you got waitlisted?

Instead of feeling like it’s the end of the world, take it as an opportunity to demonstrate your interest.

For instance, you may get in touch with the school and inform its admissions officers that you are still committed to attend if given the chance. Or you may also ask if the institution ranks its waitlist.

But, of course, the best time to show your utmost interest in attending a college or university is before you apply to it. The goal is to keep yourself from being considered a stealth applicant.

No, a stealth applicant is not someone who is secretly applying to the school.

Simply put, you are a stealth applicant if the first time the institution has any history of interacting with you is when it gets hold of your application. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stealth applicant.

However, it can be a cause of concern for any graduating high school student applying to where demonstrated interest counts.

And speaking of which, let’s now discuss the ways on how you can show demonstrated interest and increase your chances of getting an acceptance letter from a college or university that favors applicants who are willing to commit…

9 Ways to Demonstrate Interest in the College

Stanford website

Check Out College Website

There are a couple of reasons why heading to the school’s website can work to your full advantage the minute the college application season strikes.

First, it allows you to get to know the college or university very well — knowing the institution like the back of your hand is one way to prove that you are highly interested in going to it.

On the other hand, asking questions that the website of the school can readily answer, say, during an interview, can prove to be disastrous.

Second, it lets the institution know you are doing your homework.

This online report said that at least 44 public and private institutions in the US have sought the services of private consulting firms in order to help them track applicants who check out their websites.

Tracking potential applicants allows schools to have an idea of how likely students will attend if accepted based on the pages they visit and the length of time they spend on each one. Combining these pieces of information with others such as test scores and location can prove to be very helpful for colleges and universities.

Join the Admissions Mailing List

While visiting the website of the school at the top of your college list, it’s very much likely that you will be invited to sign up for free newsletters.

Especially if the institution is known to consider demonstrated interest as one of its non-academic admissions factors, you should definitely agree to receive newsletters.

Nothing can establish your interest in becoming the school’s student more than your willingness to be bombarded with news, reports and announcements from it via email on a regular basis.

But it’s not enough that you welcome newsletters from the institution to your inbox.

If the goal is to exhibit your desire to attend the college or university, you should also open and read each newsletter that comes your way.

And while you’re at it, see to it that you click on every link in the newsletter — this allows the school of your dreams to know that every piece of information it releases matters to you.

Pay the Campus a Visit (In-person or Virtual)

The importance of going to a college or university that’s a perfect fit for you cannot be stressed enough.

It’s because of this exactly why taking a campus tour is highly recommended.

Visiting the school dominating your college list allows you to get a feel for it — from the campus, students, classes, dorms to the cafeteria menu. It also lets you meet other aspirants, with whom you can share application-related joys, hopes, fears, doubts.

Especially if the school is located in an entirely different city or state, taking a campus tour can easily be an expensive and exhausting form of demonstrated interest.

Fret not if you live miles away or cannot tighten the purse strings further.

That’s because more and more colleges and universities offer virtual tours these days. As a matter of fact, there are many websites that offer cost-free campus tours of hundreds of institutions in the land.

But just a tip: it’s a much better idea to take a virtual tour provided by the college or university itself. This way, it knows that you took the tour, which can give you added points during the admissions process, particularly if demonstrated interest is a factor its admissions officers consider when evaluating applicants.

The Princeton Review has a list of colleges and universities that offer virtual campus tours.

social media

Participate on Social Media

Earlier, we established the fact that colleges and universities could track applicants through their websites with the help of private third-party firms.

Well, institutions have a simpler and less expensive way to observe the online activities of applicants, and it’s by means of their social media.

On Facebook, no school will fail to notice your demonstrated interest as your face and name are there for all to see, including admissions officers.

Yes, being active on social media is a form of demonstrated interest.

But did you know you can use a school’s Facebook support group to flaunt other forms of demonstrated interest you have done thus far?

For instance, you can post photos of your recently concluded campus tour. You may also share a few screenshots of your virtual campus tour, which is just as good as the real deal.

Agree to an Interview

Not a lot of colleges and universities conduct interviews.

More often than not, interviews are exclusive to highly selective schools and small private institutions. And what’s more, not everyone who applies to them gets an offer to undergo an interview — those who do not get an invite will not be disadvantaged in the admissions process.

Needless to say, there is no need to fret if no invitation to participate in an interview comes your way.

It’s an entirely different thing, however, if you are asked whether or not you could undergo an interview, which could be conducted by an admissions officer, alumni member or current student and held on campus, in your hometown or virtually.

Especially if the school takes demonstrated interest into account, you should agree to an interview at all costs!

Did you know that you can also get in touch with the school to request for an interview?

But if you want to give this approach a try, just see to it that after the interview, the interviewer would be feeling happy and fulfilled with the entire experience of meeting with you — in person or via the web.

Contact the Dream School

It’s not just for a request for an interview that you may get in touch with the college or university. You can also do the same for other reasons, provided that it has something to do with admissions.

During the admissions process, emailing admissions officers is perfectly appropriate and acceptable. After all, they are the best people to provide answers to questions that no one can seem to shed light on, such as about the best way to represent yourself on your college application.

In some instances, such as if you have a critical question about a course or department, you may also contact a professor, although it’s a good idea to ask your admissions representative first.

Besides an acceptance or denial, a college application can also lead to you being waitlisted. Consider this as an opportunity to demonstrate your interest in attending despite the admissions decisions by getting in touch with the institution to either confirm you are still willing to commit or inquire as to whether or not the waitlist is ranked.

Attend College Fairs

Other than contacting people from the college or university you wish to apply to in order to obtain answers to some of your pressing questions, you may also attend a college fair — representatives from the participating schools will be more than happy to make your college application go as trouble-free as possible.

What’s really nice about college fairs is that they make it easier for you to demonstrate your interest.

For instance, they are usually held at your high school, although some may also take place at a local conference or community center.

The institutions throwing the event can be local colleges and universities or from around the country. No matter the case, your high school counselor can help you find college fairs in your area.

Because the goal of attending a college fair, besides getting to know a school better, is to display your commitment to attend, don’t just show up. It’s also a must that you make your presence known.

Ask about college life, compliment brochures, obtain contact details, dress in the official colors of the school — there are so many things that you can do at a college fair that can make the representatives from the institution of your dreams notice and remember you clearly.

Send a Thank-You Note

The college application season is arguably one of the most stressful times in the life of high school students.

There are just so many admissions essays to write, short answer questions to respond to, letters of recommendations to obtain, interviews to agree to, deadlines to beat and costs of attendance to compute.

It’s because of this why it’s not unlikely for aspirants to seek the assistance of some people from the schools they like to attend, from the admissions officers themselves, alumni members, college fair reps to current admits.

Sending each of those who have lent a hand a thank-you note is a great way to display gratitude.

But besides showing how grateful you are, a thank-you note can also count as demonstrated interest. So, in other words, sending one is like hitting two birds with one stone.

Willing to go the extra mile to win bonus points in the admissions process at a college or university where an applicant’s level of interest is taken into account? Consider sending thank-you notes in the customary way — you know, sending handwritten cards or letters through snail mail.

Of course, make sure the recipients will get them way before admissions decisions come out!

Apply in Early Action or Early Decision Rounds

Last but certainly not least, you can show your interest in attending a particular college or university by applying Early Decision, Early Action or via any other early admission plan the school offers.

Nothing can spell commitment more than filling out the Common App or Coalition App, writing all admissions essays, and approaching your high school counselor and teachers for recommendations earlier than the rest of the graduating students not only in your high school but also in all high schools in the land.

At many colleges and universities, early acceptance rates tend to be higher than regular acceptance rates.

There are a few reasons behind this: there are still many slots available, the early application pool is usually strong, and applying early is a form of demonstrated interest.

If the school does not consider demonstrated interest and you got accepted into it via Early Decision or Early Action, chances are that you received an acceptance letter because your application was solid.

But be wary: being admitted Early Decision means you have no choice but to attend the school.

And also, make sure that the quality of your application won’t be compromised in your attempt to demonstrate your interest. Otherwise, you may end up getting a denial instead of an acceptance letter.

Just Before You Send in Your Application

You can demonstrate your interest in many different ways.

But it’s not all the time that you have to. Before you give any of the ways on how to show demonstrated interest discussed above a try, check first that the college or university you are applying to considers an applicant’s level of interest a part of the admissions process.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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