Demonstrated interest is when a student engages with a college to signal the student is serious about attending the college. Colleges care because students who show high levels of demonstrated interest are more likely to attend the college if accepted.
Many of these universities use sophisticated systems to track the engagement activity of students, prospective students, partners, and more, usually in a software database.
What are ways you can show demonstrated interest?
- Applying early decision or early action
- Attend an interview if offered
- Visit the college and participate in college tours
- Attend college fairs and informational meetings
- Send thank you emails and notes after meeting recruiters
- Reach out to college recruiters in your geographic area
- Write the optional essays in the college application
- Sign up for college mailing list
- Reach out to professors at college of interest
- Networking events with alumni
- Participate in any informational webinars or online chats hosted by the college
Demonstrated interest matters differently to different types of colleges. By using data directly from the admissions offices, we can better assess where students and parents should assert their energy in showing interest.
Over the past few years, our team at Empowerly has been working to aggregate this data in a definitive way across all US colleges. We rank each college's value of demonstrated interest on a scale of 1-4, 4 being very important and 1 not considered, for all 4,000 US colleges.
Which colleges care?
Colleges that receive abundant attention from applicants may be less likely to view it as an admissions factor. For instance, although 30% of the top 20 colleges at least consider demonstrated interest, the Ivy League colleges, Stanford, and other highly selective and well-known colleges will likely pay far more attention to GPA, SAT/ACT scores, extracurriculars, and essays more than any form of demonstrated interest. That said, some top schools such as Princeton, Duke, and Northwestern University do value demonstrated interest. Smaller liberal arts colleges, like Lehigh and The George Washington University also place greater value on demonstrated interest.
What should you do?
The key takeaway when preparing applications is to carefully assess whether the colleges actually care about demonstrated interest. Of course, many students are accepted to schools they have never visited and only researched online. Show demonstrated interest for schools you are genuinely interested in, but do not rely on it to get you accepted over the main factors of your college application.