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Are you currently in the throes of the college application process and feeling a bit overwhelmed? (Or maybe you’re getting ready to tackle college applications in the next year or two, but you’re not sure where to start.) Do you find yourself Googling terms like “demonstrated interest” and “early decision” and wondering what the heck it all means — and what it means to you? Don’t worry. You’re not alone! In this post, we’ll break down one of those never-heard-before terms — demonstrated interest — and discuss what it is and why it’s important to your college application. The goal? Make you feel less stressed about college admissions and more empowered to tackle your applications head-on.
First things first: what exactly is demonstrated interest? Essentially, it refers to how you can show a college you’re genuinely interested in attending. Colleges want students who have done their research, visited campus, attended information sessions, and engaged with the college in different ways. By demonstrating your interest in the college, you’re showing the admissions committee that you’re serious about attending and you’ve taken the time to learn more about what the college offers.
Sometimes. And for some colleges.
Here’s where things get a little more complicated. See, colleges are businesses. And like any business, they want to attract customers (in this case, students like you) who are likely to stick around for a while (not just for their four years of undergrad, but maybe also for post-grad studies and as an active alumnus).
That’s where demonstrated interest comes in: By showing a college you’re interested in attending, you’re signaling to them that you’re more likely to enroll if you’re admitted. And that, in turn, makes you a more desirable candidate.
It’s not unlike dating, if you think about it. You wouldn’t just sit back and hope that your crush would magically realize how amazing you are and ask you out (well, maybe you would, but it’s not always the most effective strategy). No, you’d probably try to drop some hints that you’re interested. Maybe you’d compliment them on their outfit or find a way to casually mention that you both love the same band. The point is: You’d be actively trying to demonstrate your interest in the hopes of increasing your chances of a successful outcome (i.e., a date).
It’s the same with colleges. You can’t just submit your application and hope for the best. You must actively demonstrate your interest in the school to increase your chances of admission.
But not every college wants to be courted. Well, at least, not all of them give you credit for trying to court them. One of the best ways to find out if a college tracks and considers demonstrated interest is by asking them (which, coincidentally, is also a way of showing interest) and by Googling “[School Name] Common Data Set.” Schools will indicate in this report whether this is something they consider when it comes to admission decisions.
But even if a school doesn’t officially track demonstrated interest, visiting the campus, attending college fairs, and contacting admission officers will give you a better sense of what the school is really like and whether it’s a good fit for you.
Now that you know what demonstrated interest is and how to determine which schools consider it … how do you demonstrate it? Here are a few ideas:
Basically, anything that shows you’re invested in a particular school can be considered demonstrated interest.
Colleges want students who are passionate about attending their institution. By demonstrating your interest in the college, you’re showing the admissions committee you’re a serious candidate and that you’re likely to enroll if accepted — and it also helps you learn more about the college and whether it’s the right fit for you.
Demonstrated interest can make a difference in the admissions process, so don’t underestimate its importance. With a little effort and determination, you can show a college that you’re the right candidate for their institution and increase your chances of getting accepted.
But it’s not the only piece of your admissions puzzle. Contact me if you’d like to discuss the importance of personal statements — and the supplemental “Why Us” essay — in your application.