All About Demonstrating Interest

You might have heard the term before, but do you actually know what it means? You know that it has something to do with the college application process, but just how important is it and how do you…do it? Luckily, College Calm can shed some light on the topic, as well as outline effective ways to demonstrate interest to your favorite colleges.

What is Demonstrated Interest? Demonstrated interest (DI) is a way for admissions officers to gauge a prospective applicant’s level of interest in their school. This helps them assess the likelihood that the applicant will accept an offer from them. 

Why is it important? Admissions offices care about yield: the number of admitted applicants who actually enroll at their school. Yield is valued because not only does it determine enrollment, but it also raises the college’s ranking and its perceived desirability. And if you have a dream school that you would attend if admitted, then letting admissions know that could work in your favor.

Do all colleges track Demonstrated Interest? No. Some, like the UCs and Ivies, do not track demonstrated interest. By googling annual Common Data Sets for each college, you can see which colleges track DI and by how much – Very Important, Important, Considered, Not Considered. This is also conveniently listed for you in CounselMore by scrolling through your college list in grid view.

So how do I demonstrate interest? Admissions officers track demonstrated interest in a number of ways:

You can register to receive information directly from colleges, either by registering on their web sites, or by scanning QR codes and filling out inquiry cards at college fairs. Any of these methods will put you in the college’s system for future reference.

Admissions officers can see when you’ve received an email, how long it’s taken you to open it and whether you’ve clicked links inside it. When you click on a link, they see where and when you’re looking on their website, such as researching their academic programs.

Both in-person and virtual visits let admissions know that you want to take a closer look at their school. In-person visits show that you are willing to travel to see the campus and interact with the students, as well as explore prospective majors. Should you plan a visit, either virtual or on-campus, be sure to cancel if you can’t attend; colleges take note when you register, cancel, or no-show.

Both high school visits and fairs give admissions officers an opportunity to meet prospective students in person, as well as promote their college. And often the person who visits is also the person who will read your application. Check your college center at school for upcoming college rep visits (typically in Fall and Spring), and be on the lookout for college fairs hosted by WACAC, NACAC and Colleges that Change Lives.

Don’t be afraid to send a text or email with questions. Admissions officers are your biggest advocate, and it’s a lot easier for them to vouch for you if they know you. Check out the RACC (Regional Admissions Counselors of California) website to connect with admissions officers who are based in California, but represent schools outside of California. You can also do a search on college admissions’ websites to find the admisionss officer dedicated to your geographic territory. 

Very interested applicants can take an extra step to market themselves to their favorite college by requesting an interview. This can be done from the college’s website or through the admissions office. Some schools offer interviews prior to the application process and others will only interview students who have completed an application. You can also ask about interview options when you visit schools. You could be interviewed by an alum/admissions officer/current student who will want to know your aspirations in attending the college, and who can answer questions you have about their experience there. On the Counselmore App Tracker tab you can also see updated information on which schools offer interviews. 

If you are interested in a particular field of study, ask the admissions office to refer you to a faculty member in that department. If you think you could be a recruited athlete, you can contact the coach directly through the Athletics site. It is valuable to connect with the people who can give you additional insight into a school. It helps students write much better “Why Us” essays. 

When you apply tells colleges how enthusiastic you are about their school. Applying Early Decision (ED1/ED2) tells colleges that you will attend if admitted. Applying Early Action (EA) shows you are a student who can get things done and that this school is important enough to you to apply early. If there is a school that you really have your eye on, apply earlier than later – a late application can be viewed as an afterthought.

These required essay questions have significance – colleges want to know more about you to decide if you are a good fit for their school. And remember to do your research – colleges also want to know how much you know about their school and why you think it’s the right place for your academic aspirations.

A Note About Demonstrated Interest

This blog discusses DI in general terms and should be used as a guide. Although DI is commonly tracked, it is used differently by colleges depending on the school’s institutional priorities. While it is most widely used to assess a potential offer acceptance, it can also tell admissions about prospective students’ majors or other useful information. Whatever the case, remember that it is just one small component of an application and is never the deciding factor for an applicant’s admittance.