By Alecia, IvyWise College Admissions Counselor
Demonstrated Interest is a concept that is often misunderstood by many students and parents going through the college admissions process. Students imagine college admissions officers tallying up the number of emails you’ve written and the number of times you’ve visited campus to determine if you really, really like that school or not. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Demonstrated interest is actually much more contextual and nuanced.
Does Demonstrated Interest Matter?
It depends! As you begin your college search process, ask the colleges to which you are applying if they will be considering demonstrated interest as part of their admissions processes, and ask them to unpack that in more detail for you so you can better understand how important demonstrated interest is in making admissions decisions at that college or university. Every college is different – some are very honest that they consider demonstrated interest strongly in their admissions decisions by looking at the number of times you’ve connected with the college while others don’t factor it in at all. Either way, it’s important that you put your best foot forward in the college admissions process; you should be “demonstrating your interest” in every college you are applying to by developing a strong college list of best-fit schools that you are excited about possibly attending.
How to Demonstrate Interest
So your best-fit schools track demonstrated interest – now what? Outside of doing thorough research to craft a well-balanced college list, there are some other ways you can demonstrate your enthusiasm to all the colleges to which you plan to apply.
Know Why that College is a Good-Fit for You
It’s extremely important that you are authentic in your college admissions process. Take the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of all the colleges to which you are interested in applying. Colleges appreciate integrity in the admissions process, so it’s important that you understand why you are applying to a college – what attracted you to the institution, what do you hope to contribute to the community, and what experiences are you hoping to have while a student there? If you can answer these questions honestly throughout your application, you’re already “demonstrating interest” to a college admissions office!
Visit and Attend Sessions When Possible
To get to know a college more deeply, you should become an “inquiry” at that college by adding yourself to the college’s mailing list, exploring the college’s website, and getting to know the college by attending the college’s information session or a campus visit. Attend virtual information sessions or in-person campus visits. Register, show up on time, and ask questions. Colleges really appreciate when students come with their own questions as well (separate from their parents!) This is one of the best way to demonstrate interest since colleges will have a record of your visit when you register. If the college you are interested in is visiting your high school, be sure to attend that visit. Ask your school counselor if they can submit a few of your questions in advance to the college admissions officer so that you can connect with them during their visit. Most admissions officers will not have enough time to meet with you separately during their visits, so take advantage of the opportunity to hear your peers’ questions and be sure you are engaged throughout their visit.
Don’t Sleep on Informed Interest
During the application process, use all the information you’ve gathered from your research and visits to write thorough and impressive responses to school-specific essay questions. These questions indicate qualities that are important to the college – so if they ask you for your perspective or why you are interested in the college, it’s because your answers to those questions impact how you will stand out in their admissions process. Your research and experience with the college should give you a good sense of what they are looking for in the admissions process and what that college values. If you replicate your answers to those school-specific questions on multiple applications, you’re truly doing yourself a disservice.
Apply Early and Interview
If a college has an Early Decision (binding early deadline) and that college is your top choice, you should strongly consider applying Early Decision as most Early Decision colleges consider applying under their ED deadline the ultimate way to demonstrate your interest. Lastly, if you need to indicate your interest in receiving an interview with the admissions office or an alumnus, be sure you indicate that interest through your admissions application. If you receive an invitation to interview, do the interview!
Demonstrated interest is a complicated topic in the college admissions world, and every college considers it differently as part of their admissions process. Be sure to reach out to every college to which you are applying to find out how they view your enthusiasm in the college during the admissions process. Keeping the above tips in mind will allow you to more authentically explore the colleges you are considering to ensure the colleges on your list are the right fit for you. As long as every college on your list is a good fit for you, you’ll easily and authentically demonstrate your interest through the admissions process!
At IvyWise, we work with students to ensure that every piece of their college application is reflective of who they are as a student and demonstrates their fit and enthusiasm for those schools. We can help you through every step of the college admissions process, including how to demonstrate your interest to your top-choice colleges. For more information on how we do this, contact us today!