What 'Demonstrated Interest' Means In College Admissions

When it comes to a college admissions cycle, you and the college have two different goals: yours is to be accepted to an excellent school where you can thrive on campus. The college wants to create a balanced incoming class: they need to make sure a certain number of students enroll, and that within that new class, there is a certain percentage of math majors, athletes, art students, and so on.

To help them be sure that they will have enough mathematicians, athletes, and artists on campus, colleges want to know how likely you are to attend if admitted. They want to know that if they offer you one of their coveted acceptances, they can be reasonably reassured you will accept.

They gauge the likelihood you will attend by tracking your contact with the college and assessing the sincerity of your interest. This is your demonstrated interest: the amount of contact you’ve had with the school to demonstrate your seriousness in attending.

In previous years, the biggest ways to display demonstrated interest were:

  • Applying Early Decision
  • Participating in an interview with an admissions representative
  • Touring the college in-person
  • Signing in to a local college fair
  • Subscribing to their mailing list

However, with new technology and the COVID-19 pandemic closing many campuses to in-person visits, many colleges have recently radically adjusted the measures through which they track demonstrated interest.

Although many campuses are welcoming visitors again, many new tracking measures remain in place. This is why it’s more important than ever to be aware of your contact with the colleges on your list, as the degree to which you demonstrate your interest can be a key admission factor for certain colleges.

Here are some of the top ways you can demonstrate interest:

  • Sign up for an interview, whether in-person or online
  • Participate in the college’s virtual tour (even if you have also visited in person!)
  • Follow the colleges’ social media accounts (but make sure that you have Googled yourself first!)
  • Subscribe to and comment on any official blogs from admission offices, such as Inside Admissions from Tufts or Notes from Peabody from UVA.
  • Sign up online for recruitment emails, often in the “Request Information” section of their website
    • Open and, if appropriate, reply to any emails you receive from colleges.
    • Click through the links in the emails to research information that seems interesting to you. Colleges are like technology companies--they are tracking to see if you have opened and clicked through to their links, so make sure that you do!
  • Contact your local admissions representative with any questions.
    • Schedule a meeting with your College Prep 360 counselor to plan thoughtful, well-researched questions you can ask for each individual college that will help you stand out in your representative’s inbox as an interested and inquisitive candidate.
  • Attend admission office webinars and other virtual events
    • Send thank you emails to admission staff who answer your questions or host a webinar that you attend. If someone spends a lot of time with you personally, a paper thank you note always leaves a good impression.