How to Demonstrate Interest in a College

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Introduction to Demonstrated Interest

Every college wants to know which prospective students are most invested in enrolling if accepted. Universities want to achieve a consistent class size, which can be difficult to accomplish if many accepted students ultimately enroll at other institutions. Colleges use a number of different tactics to address this problem. Some use the supplemental “Why Us?” essay to gauge whether a student has done their research and demonstrated a good fit. Others desire a more substantive metric for prospective student interest. These institutions weigh each student’s demonstrated interest when making admissions decisions in the hopes of greater admit enrollment. 

How to Show Demonstrated Interest in a College

After solidifying your college list, your first step is to determine which schools on the list consider demonstrated interest. Most schools state outright whether they do or don’t on their website. After you’ve determined which schools value demonstrated interest, it’s time to start demonstrating!

Here are some simple ways to show dedicated interest:

  • Open and read all emails you get from the school. Some schools use third-party software to see which students read the emails they send out. 
  • Visit the school and attend a campus tour. 
  • Follow the school on social media. 
  • Interact with the school’s representatives at your local college fair.
  • Schedule an alumni interview. 
  • Request additional information from the admissions department via email. 

Of course, these options are not universally feasible for every student. Some officials in higher education have critiqued the practice of measuring demonstrated interest because it tends to privilege students and families with more expendable time and resources. While demonstrated interest used to revolve around rewarding those who could afford to visit a far-off campus, nowadays a working computer and wifi network are all you need to show interest in your schools of choice.

Furthermore, given recent university shutdowns due to COVID-19, virtual tours are booming. These online tours allow students who would not normally be able to visit universities as prospective students to share in the experiences of their peers. While virtual tours cannot replicate every facet of the in-person experience, they do represent a positive step in terms of universal accessibility.

How To Reach Out

Reaching out to admissions officers as a high school student can be intimidating. It is important to remember that these officers are dedicated to helping students like you through their college applications, and are invested in your positive impressions of their institution. With that being said, there are some best practices to keep in mind when reaching out. 

First, it is important to only reach out to admissions officers with genuine questions and concerns. Don’t email or call with questions that can be answered by doing a quick Google search or browsing a few minutes on the university’s website. Instead, prepare for your interaction by checking the school’s website to see if any of your questions remain unanswered by the FAQ pages. Those are the questions you should ask admissions officers.

If you know the university’s representative for your area, it is best to reach out to them directly, especially if you’ve already interacted with them in person. It can be helpful to remind them who you are and where you met. While they may not remember the specifics of your interaction, you’re more likely to receive a positive response if you remind them how much you enjoyed their recent presentation and Q&A. 

It can also be helpful to cultivate a relationship with someone on campus, especially a faculty member. If you know what you’d like to study, you should research the relevant department and its faculty members. Spend time reading about their areas of research and ongoing projects. If one of them stands out to you, reach out with a polite email, asking insightful questions based on what you read about their work. If you’d like to read a specific publication, but lack access because of paywalls, ask for a copy! Professors are usually quite eager to share their research and will happily oblige.

By establishing these personal connections with a school, you are demonstrating strong interest both in the institution at large and the relevant department while learning more about the school. In addition to checking the demonstrated interest box for the school in question, you will be better able to judge whether you will be fulfilled (intellectually, socially, and emotionally) by studying there.

Demonstrated Interest FAQs

Do I have to do all of this for every school?

Definitely not! Prioritize schools in the “reach” category. Pick 3-4 schools you are applying to that consider demonstrated interest, and follow these steps for them. Of course, if you have extra time on your hands, it is useful to take some of these steps for every school on your list in order to gain greater insight about each and write even better application essays, but don’t worry if that’s not feasible for you. 

Are these steps really necessary? 

No, these steps are optional. It is possible to get into a great school without demonstrating interest. If, however, you want an additional boost to your application, this is a relatively easy way to achieve it. 

How much time should I spend on this?

Not much compared to essays and the other parts of the application. Think of demonstrated interest as the cherry on top of your college application sundae: something special to set it apart from the rest.

Final Takeaways

Demonstrated interest is by no means the most important part of a student’s profile. It is, however, an easy extra step for many students to take, and one that can help their admissions chances. 

The college admissions process is full of subtleties and quirks. We know these nuances can feel daunting at times. If you’d like additional help with any part of the admissions process, Ivy Scholars is here for you. We have mentors with expertise in all areas of college admissions, and we are always excited to help new students achieve their education aspirations.

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