What is Demonstrated Interest? Which Colleges Track It?

Female student meeting with male college admissions officer
Updated:
November 28, 2023
6 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 10/23/23

Heard of demonstrated interest for college but not sure what it is? Keep reading, and we’ll break down the ins and outs of colleges that track demonstrated interest!

Female student meeting with male and female college admissions officer

You’ve got a list of colleges you’re thinking of applying to. As the deadline comes closer, you’re still not 100% sure what school would best fit you. Nonetheless, certain schools seem to stick out more than others. However, to the admissions committee, you’re just another name in an endless pool of applicants.

If there were a way to show a specific college why you’re drawn to them more than others, you’d be eager to show them. While most students worry about GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and extracurriculars, most forget a crucial step in their applications. Ironically, it could make all the difference in their acceptance.

The key piece of the puzzle they’re missing is demonstrated interest or DI. DI shows colleges that you’re not simply skimming their programs and applying on a whim. DI is a crucial step to getting your name to the top of the applicant pile and making admissions officers eager to have you.

So, are you ready to learn how to show demonstrated interest? Let’s get into it!

What is Demonstrated Interest?

You may be wondering what demonstrated interest is and why it’s so important. Demonstrating interest involves a series of actions students can take to show colleges their dedication to that school. Some examples include engaging with alumni, visiting campus, and connecting with faculty.

The Importance of Demonstrated Interest in College Admission

Admissions officers are overwhelmed with applicants, some of whom are extremely qualified. The question on their mind is if a student is really going to follow through and attend their college. Say they were accepted and chose not to go. This takes spots away from other, more committed applicants.

Yield rates are the measure of how many students that are accepted end up attending. Colleges try to maximize their yield rates to prioritize students who will gain the most value from their programs. 

When students take actionable steps to show their investment in colleges that track DI, they know they’re being taken seriously. Although no single way guarantees admission, there are several different avenues students can take to improve their chances of admission by demonstrating interest.

How Can You Show A Demonstrated Interest When Applying to College?

Showing demonstrated interest doesn’t need to be complex. As mentioned earlier, there are even ways to show your commitment to schools virtually without ever leaving the comfort of your home.  Regardless of your approach, just remember that showing interest doesn’t guarantee admission. 

Try to explore methods that feel natural for you and express sincerity when communicating with admissions officers. Although each school may have slightly different approaches to tracking DI, we’ll go through some of the most common and effective ways to show interest in the colleges of your choice. 

In general, visiting campus and virtual methods are some of the most common ways students are demonstrating interest these days. Virtual engagement can provide a nice entry point for schools you’re unsure about, and campus visitations are great for schools you’re seriously considering.

Visiting Campus

Visiting campus is one of the top ways for students to further invest in potential schools. Colleges track who’s attended campus and consider it a form of DI. It lets admissions officers see that their college isn’t some kind of last-minute choice for prospective students.

Due to the more involved nature of a campus visit, admissions councils are understanding if not every student can make the trip. Some students may live far away and may not have parents able to take them to the school they’re interested in. Regardless, if you’re able to make the trip, it can make a big impact.

It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need to visit every school you’re thinking of applying to. Think of a campus visit as an option for schools you’re seriously considering attending. This way, you won’t be wasting extra time on any colleges that are lower on your priority list and only showing demonstrated interest when it matters.

High school student touring college campus

Admission Officer High School Visits

Many students may not realize it, but colleges frequently send admission officers to meet with high school students, which is a great opportunity for demonstrated interest. 

If you’re ever unsure if this is the case, you can meet with your guidance counselor to discuss any upcoming dates.

Being able to attend a high school visit makes it a lot easier for students to ask any informative questions they have for admissions officers. Remember, admissions officers are there to help offer insight into the colleges they represent, so remember to put your best foot forward and ask thoughtful questions.

You can also use this as an opportunity to discuss any financial aid or potential scholarships offered by the college. If there’s something that the officer doesn’t know off the top of their head, they’ll find you the appropriate resources to get the information you need.

Essays

When you’re crafting your application, supplemental essays can play a key role in showing demonstrated interest in a school. During admission essays, students often have opportunities to discuss factors that play a role in their college selection process. With the right research, you can set yourself apart from other applicants

Discussing assets that the school provides, especially if they’re not available at other schools, sends a clear message that you’ve done your research. Colleges want to feel like they’re benefiting students who need the resources they provide, rather than less enthusiastic students who don’t care as much about them.

Make sure to weave the school's values into your essays to demonstrate a strong connection between your goals and what the institution stands for.

It’s also worth mentioning not to overdo your essay when demonstrating interest. Colleges can tell when you’re simply paraphrasing information you’ve seen online if you’re not applying it to your own unique situation. Also, be sure to mention how you’ll fit in with the school culture and atmosphere.

Webinars

As one of the simplest ways to show DI, webinars allow students to get colleges’ attention without ever leaving their homes. 

Colleges commonly track webinar attendees and can see who engages with the content provided. Webinars can go over things like campus life, financial aid, and different programs.

If you decide to show up, prepare any questions you may have for the school. If you need financial assistance or have specific program requirements you’re curious about, webinars are a good place to ask. Even if you’d rather just attend and not participate, showing up for a webinar is a solid way to show DI.

Male student taking notes while watching webinar

Is Demonstrated Interest the Same for Every College?

Demonstrated interest isn’t the same for every college. The exact methods each school uses and the importance of each varies considerably at each institution. That’s why you should always be familiar with the policies of the colleges you’re targeting to use your time most effectively during your college application cycle.

List of Schools that Track Demonstrated Interest 

This list will go through some schools students are commonly interested in and show how important DI is to them. This way, you can get a sense of how much time you’ll need to spend to show your interest when applying.

Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Washington University Carnegie Mellon University Tufts University Carnegie Mellon University
Syracuse University Auburn University Northwestern University University of California, Berkeley
American University University of Arizona Virginia Tech Brown University
Ithaca College Florida Institute of Technology New York University Princeton University
Hampshire College Boston University George Washington University Stanford University

Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Dickinson College DePaul University Cornell College Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Texas - Tyler Loyola University Chicago Loyola University Maryland Florida State University
United States Naval Academy Reed College Colorado College Yale University
Morehouse College University of Massachusetts Amherst Oregon State University University of Southern California
Seton Hall University DePaul University Dartmouth College University of California, Los Angeles

Source: Common Data Set

As shown in the table, each school is different in its approach to demonstrated interest. Some schools weigh its importance quite high, while others consider it less of a priority. That’s why it’s always good to check and confirm how the school you’re planning on attending looks at DI.

Tips for Showing Demonstrated Interest

The best tips for showing DI are ones that are relevant to your personal situation. As previously discussed, not all schools track demonstrated interest, let alone use the same methods. Try a balancing act–for the most important schools, you should take more involved DI measures to telegraph your interest and commitment.

One of the most important tips to keep in mind when showing DI is researching the school in question. This way, you can find out exactly what you need to highlight in your application. Additionally, meeting with students or alumni can give you more insight. If you have a school in mind, consider applying early as well.

University of Arizona student wearing school sweatshirt

FAQs

Do you have any additional questions regarding DI for colleges? Keep reading below for our expert tips and insights!

1. Does Northwestern University Track Demonstrated Interest?

Yes, Northwestern University does track demonstrated interest. DI is considered by admission councils at Northwestern, so your best bet is to look into ways you can show your interest.

2. Does Tufts University Track Demonstrated Interest?

Yes, Tufts tracks demonstrated interest. DI, among other metrics, is considered when admitting applicants. Students can plan things like campus visits, attend webinars, and meet admission officers.

3. Does USC Track Demonstrated Interest?

No, USC doesn’t track demonstrated interest. This should allow students to free up more time to focus on things like extracurriculars and GPAs. Having a well-rounded application is the best way to get into USC.

4. Does Brown University Track Demonstrated Interest?

No, Brown University doesn’t track demonstrated interest. It may come as a surprise that a school like Brown would forgo DI assessments, but this just shows that each school has unique priorities.

5. Can I Start Demonstrating Interest at Any Stage of the Application Process?

Given how many flexible options there are for demonstrating interest, you don’t need to wait until the last minute to show your consideration for different schools. Things like admission officer high school visits mean you can take initiative before you even make your application.

6. How Can I Engage with College Admission Representatives to Show My Interest?

One of the best ways to engage with college admission representatives is by asking thoughtful questions. Admission representatives are inundated with boring inquiries for information that can be easily googled or readily available on the school website.  Also, don't forget to send a kind email afterward to whoever you speak to.

7. What Happens If I'm Unable to Demonstrate Interest in My Top College Choices?

There are several easy ways to express demonstrated interest in your top college choices. Methods like opening college emails, checking out their website, and even engaging with them on social media are simple enough for anyone to do. You can also consider your supplemental essays and reach out via email to an admission officer. 

8. Does Demonstrated Interest Affect Scholarship Opportunities?

Some schools take DI into account when considering scholarship recipients. Remember, it’s best to be firing on all cylinders to make yourself the most appealing candidate possible. Showing DI is easily doable for the majority of students in most situations. 

9. What If I Live Far Away from the College I'm Interested In? How Can I Still Demonstrate Interest?

Living far away no longer needs to be a barrier to showing DI. It may come as a surprise, but you can email admission officers and explain your situation and why it may be difficult for you to attend. Even just taking the time to communicate your situation shows a level of DI.

In addition to visiting the campus website, admission advisors may direct you to any virtual tours or webinars they may be having. 

Final Thoughts

Demonstrated interest for colleges doesn’t have to be difficult. Although there was a time when it was very difficult to show DI without attending campus or meeting an admission officer, things have changed with the internet and social media.

There are important reasons why there are colleges that track demonstrated interest. You may come across potential information that makes you more or less invested in a particular school. Discovering more college information ensures that you’re more likely to select an environment where you’ll fit best.

It’s better to be equipped with the information you need earlier rather than later. After all, it does no good for students or colleges if you’re unable to continue your studies due to something you could have found out sooner. Overall, DI can be the last extra step you need to gain admission to the college of your dreams.

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