Best Way to Show Demonstrated Interest In Your Dream College

Different colleges and universities have different admissions factors. Something many institutions share is demonstrated interest, which, coincidentally, can be demonstrated in various ways.

The best way to show demonstrated interest in a college is to apply early. Others are contacting the admissions officers, and doing campus tours, attending events, subscribing to newsletters, being active on social media, agreeing to interviews, and talking about the school in the essay.

Colleges and universities can only accept so many students who apply to them every academic year or semester. And they also want the applicants they admit to really want to go to them.

It’s all about meeting their enrollment goal and maintaining a high yield rate, which is good for the image.

Read on if you are about to apply to your shortlisted schools anytime soon. Below, you will come across a number of ways on how to show demonstrated interest in a college or university. After checking out the entirety of this article, you will have a better idea about leveraging your strong desire to attend a school to your admissions advantage.

Knowing whether or not the institutions on your college list have a penchant for applicants who demonstrate interest is the first step to take. And that is why you should know the answer to this question:

Do All colleges Care About Demonstrated Interest?

Not all institutions for higher education consider demonstrated interest as a non-academic admissions factor. Highly selective schools like the Ivy Leagues and competitive ones do not care about demonstrated interest. The same is true for big colleges and universities that get a lot of applications.

Your college list will determine whether or not you should exhibit demonstrated interest.

That’s because some schools prefer to admit applicants who display eagerness to attend them. On the other hand, others find it enough that students try applying. In many instances, an institution’s selectivity level and size can give you an idea of whether or not demonstrated interest matters.

It’s very rare for you to come across an Ivy League or any other elite school that cares about demonstrated interest. They are aware that those who dare to apply are determined to earn a degree from them.

Most massive colleges and universities do not include demonstrated interest in their list of admissions factors, too.

Because they tend to receive tons of applications every college application season, it’s so unlikely that they will run out of students who will accept their offer, thus allowing them to meet their enrollment goal.

It’s when evaluating Early Decision applicants and those on the waitlist when a school’s admissions officers are most likely to turn to demonstrated interest in making a decision.

Just because you let a college or university know that it’s your absolute top-choice school by demonstrating your interest doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to receive an offer from it.

It’s true that the institution on your college list considers demonstrated interest as an admissions factor.

However, it’s very much unlikely that it’s the ONLY admissions factor it takes into account. Even if you are the most interested student to apply to the school, having a strong overall application is still a must to gain admission into it.

And this leads us to this pressing question:

How to Know if School Considers Demonstrated Interest?

Not all colleges and universities have demonstrated interest as a factor in the admissions decisions. Those who consider it usually indicate on their website that showing interest is important. To be sure, one may check out an institution’s Common Data Set, which is available online free of charge.

In many instances, visiting the school’s website and heading straight to the admissions or application page allows you to determine whether or not they are looking for applicants who demonstrate interest in attending.

But keep in mind that some colleges and universities that include demonstrated interest in their admissions factors may not indicate it on their online portals. The good news is that you can always take a quick look at the Common Data Set of the school you wish to apply to — in there, you will see what you are looking for.

After getting your hands at the institution’s Common Data Set, which is available either on its website or another site, follow these simple steps on determining whether or not demonstrated interest is important:

  1. Note that the Common Data Set is composed of 10 different sections, from letters A to J.
  2. Scroll down all the way to section C, which is “First-Time, First-Year (Freshman) Admission”.
  3. Look for section C7 — it has a table of the different academic and non-academic factors.
  4. Focus on the “Level of applicant’s interest” in the non-academic part.
  5. Check if the institution has marked it very important, important, considered or not considered.

There is no denying that you can increase your chances of getting accepted into a school if it says that demonstrated interest is a very important non-academic admissions factor. Colleges and universities that consider demonstrated interest have a holistic admissions policy, and showing you want to attend them can strengthen your application.

Related Article: 18 Best Colleges in the Southeast

And this takes us to this critical admissions-related question:

Should You Demonstrate Interest if it’s Not Important for the School?

For as long as the college or university does not indicate that demonstrated interest is not considered, it is a good idea for students to show their eagerness to attend the school. When deciding between two applicants with almost the same admissions profile, every part of the application counts.

Demonstrating interest consumes time and, in some instances, money.

It’s because of this why some students may focus more of their effort on other parts of their application and less energy on establishing the fact that the institution they are applying to is their ultimate choice.

However, no matter if the school’s website or Common Data Set shows that demonstrated interest is very important, important or considered, make sure that you let its admissions officers know that you will enroll if you receive from it an acceptance letter, which is something that not all applicants will get.

This is especially true if there are only a few slots available, and your application is almost the same as the applications of other deserving students — it will all boil down to who is more likely to grab the opportunity to attend the school.

Again, it has partly something to do with keeping the yield rate high and maintaining a prestigious image.

Duke University

10 Ways to Show Demonstrated Interest In A College

Now that some critical questions have been answered, it’s time to dive into the heart of this article: how to show demonstrated interest in a college.

Apply Early Decision (ED, ED I, ED II)

Someone who is interested in another will usually try to establish friendship, set up dates and ask to go steady before marrying the person and live happily ever after.

It’s a completely different story for a student who really loves a college — a proposal is made right away!

Nothing can be more convincing and aggressive than applying Early Decision as a way to exhibit demonstrated interest. Colleges and universities love students who apply earlier than everybody else. That’s because it serves as proof they are the absolute top-choice of applicants, and the rest are mere backups.

Besides being a form of demonstrated interest, sending your application to your dream schools very early on means that there are still plenty of slots available, which may increase your admissions chances by more than 10%.

However, remember that Early Decision is binding!

Read more about Early Decision and all its pros and cons here.

Visit the College’s Website

Before applying Early Decision, it’s a must that you research the college or university very well beforehand. This is especially true since an Early Decision plan is binding — you have to apply to the school if it accepts you.

A great way to show demonstrated interest during the investigation phase is by visiting the website of the school you wish to apply to. Make sure that you access every single page that you can check out. The goal is to leave footprints all over the institution’s online portal, which establishes the fact that you are very interested.

Colleges and universities can detect what you visit, what you read and what you click on their websites.

But don’t just visit a school’s website to pretend that you are captivated by it.

Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can about the institution. Your knowledge about it will come in handy when showing demonstrated interest in other ways, which we will talk about in a few — so don’t stop reading now!

Sign Up for Newsletters

While paying the school’s website a visit, it’s not unlikely for you to come across a link that allows you to request to receive newsletters from the institution on a regular basis.

The mere fact that you are willing to get scoops, reports, announcements and others shows that you are eager to become one of its students for the coming academic year or semester.

However, refrain from assuming that a college is interested in you when it sends you a newsletter. It’s always the other way around — you are interested in it.

Showing that you are interested is a great way to win the heart of the school’s admissions officers.

It’s not enough that you agree to receive newsletters in your inbox. There is one very important step you need to take to show demonstrated interest via joining the school’s mailing list. Check out the next entry.

Click on College Newsletter Links

More often than not, it’s not the actual newsletter from the institution on the top of your college list that you will receive through email but a link that will take you to its website, in particular a page containing the information.

This is when the sheer importance of clicking that link comes in.

Earlier, we talked about the fact that accessing the website of your top-choice school allows its admissions officers to see just how enthusiastic you are to get accepted.

Well, clicking newsletter links works in the same fashion — it lets the sender, the institution you fancy, know that you are interested because you read what it sent.

Actually reading newsletters can also help you determine if your college list needs some tweaking. That’s because it allows you to get to know the school even more, which may or may not change the way you look at it.

Attend College Events

It’s not uncommon for representatives from colleges and universities to travel from state to state and city to city to hold events. This is especially true before the college application season, which is the perfect time to encourage students to try their hands at applying and potentially get accepted.

Showing up at a college event in your area or a neighboring city is a great way to get a sense of campus life without having to step foot on the campus, which we will discuss in a few — read on!

And, more importantly, it allows you to show that you are an interested applicant.

When attending a college event held near you, make sure that you register for it.

The goal is to let the institution know you turned up and participated in the activities. And while you are at the venue, see to it that you interact with as many of the members of the party as you possibly can in order to reinforce the fact that you were there.

UNC Chapel Hill Campus

Take a Campus Tour

The most formidable (though by no means the only) way to exhibit demonstrated interest is taking a campus tour. Since it’s a costly and time-consuming approach, especially if you reside hundreds or thousands of miles away from the college or university, a campus tour can speak volumes about your desire to attend it.

Worry not if you do not have the means to pack your bags and fly.

That’s because most colleges and universities offer virtual tours these days.

Taking one is advantageous to everyone concerned, including the institutions themselves that are extremely busy with a lot of things, especially when the college application season is around the bend.

Similar to attending a college event in your city or an adjacent one, it’s important that you register for a campus tour and not just appear in person. This way, the college or university has proof of your visit.

Read more about college visits here.

Get in Touch With an Admissions Officer

A physical campus tour allows you to meet with arguably the most important personality in the entire college application process. And it’s none other than the college or university’s admissions officer.

However, as emphasized earlier, it’s perfectly fine if going to the school in person is not an option.

You can always pair your virtual campus tour with a one-to-one with an admissions officer through email or chat.

Either way, it gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and talk about your interest in the institution. Meeting with the admissions officer virtually also gives you the chance to ask questions the school’s website does not answer.

In some instances, it’s also possible to come into contact with an admissions officer in another way, and it’s the one that we will talk about next — so keep reading!

Be Active on Social Media

These days, just about everything has a Facebook group, including the college or university of your dreams.

Needless to say, you can show demonstrated interest in a college by joining its Facebook group. But don’t just be a mere member. It’s a great idea to be an active participant, too.

When it comes to proving that you would make for a wonderful addition to the campus, everything you do on social media to make your presence known counts. That includes anything from liking a post, leaving a comment to creating a post. It’s like already being a part of the campus without an acceptance letter from the admissions office.

By establishing a strong social media presence and pairing it with a strong application, it’s not unlikely for you to enjoy increased admissions chances.

Participate in Admissions Interviews

Some colleges and universities interview only a small fraction of applicants. On the other hand, some interview many. The University of Pennsylvania, for instance, offers an interview to more than 90% of its applicants.

Whether the institution you are applying to interviews a few or a lot, make sure that you participate in an interview if you are offered one.

That’s because it is a fantastic opportunity for you to show demonstrated interest. By giving the right answers and asking the right questions, you can prove that you already know much and want to know more.

Instead of waiting for an offer, you may also ask the school if an interview is possible.

There is no denying that an interview is one of the most nerve-racking parts of the college application process. But by seeing it as a friendly conversation between you and an alumni member, there is nothing to worry about.

Talk About the School in Your Essays

Does the school you are applying to require you to submit supplemental essays? And is one of the essay prompts “Why Us?” or “Why This College?” Chances are that it considers demonstrated interest an admissions factor.

Refrain from seeing additional essays on top of the Common App essay or Coalition App essay as extra work.

Instead, think of it as one more opportunity for you to prove to the admissions officers that the institution is number one on your college list. Choosing the said supplemental essay prompt lets you show how much you know the school. By showcasing your knowledge about and passion toward it, you might win your audience’s nod.

A supplemental essay is a form of demonstrated interest that can make or break your application. See to it that you give it plenty of thought and pour your heart into it.

There are many different interesting ways to show demonstrated interest. If the college or university you are applying to considers it one of its admissions factors, see to it that you exhibit yours in various ways to prove to the institution’s admissions officers that you are someone who is sure to enroll if accepted.


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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