#College Essays and Applications

Beyond essays, applications, grades, and activities, what more can your student do to strengthen their application at their dream school?  

For some colleges, the answer is demonstrated interest.

Demonstrated Interest

Colleges carefully select applicants to ensure an appropriately sized incoming class. To increase their yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who choose to accept admissions offers—many colleges will consider applicants’ demonstrated interest. When students show interest in a university that considers this factor, colleges interpret this interest as a strong sign that they are likely to attend if admitted. 

According to a 2019 report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 16.1% of participating colleges said that demonstrated interest was a considerably important factor in their admissions decisions. Of those colleges, 23.9% indicated that it was of moderate importance to them. To find out whether a school considers demonstrated interest in their selection process, check out the school’s admissions website (for instance, Tulane) or contact an admissions counselor. Or, you can search for the name of the school and “common data set.” Once you have the school’s Common Data Set, look over the chart in section C7! For instance, on the University of Virginia’s Common Data Set, you can see that they do not consider demonstrated interest. 

So, what are some ways to show demonstrated interest?

  • A campus visit is the clearest way to demonstrate your interest in a school. 
  • Make sure that the school is aware of your visit. In most cases, you can do this by signing up for a tour with the admissions department (for example, here with Tulane). If you drive through or do an informal visit with family or friends, stop by the campus visitor center if you can and ask to join the mailing list or record your visit. Alternatively, you can send an email to your regional admission officer to inform them of your informal visit to campus. Take a look at tools on schools’ websites that can help you find your regional admission officer, like the one on the University of Miami’s website
  • Be sure to review the school’s visit website before you arrive to see what opportunities exist beyond the campus tour and information session to engage with the campus. You can also email your admissions officer to see if they can arrange an opportunity for you to chat with a professor or student, or to visit a class or club that interests you. 
  • After your visit, send a polite and thoughtful thank-you note to your admissions officer or to the admissions officer who gave the information session. 
Think Local (or Digital)
  • Many schools offer virtual or local interviews with alumni in your area. These can be informational or evaluative. Be sure to prepare for both kinds of interviews
  • For schools holding virtual classes, reach out to your admissions officer about what courses are open to visits or take a look at the admission website. You may be able to sit in on those classes from any location.
  • Check with your school counselor to find out whether any recruiters may be visiting your high school, or whether a school you’re interested in is participating in a local or digital college fair. Fill out any forms or mailing cards an admission officer has to document your conversation. 
  • Even if you only connect with someone from campus virtually, send a polite and thoughtful thank-you email a few days later!
Reach Out Directly
  • If you have a question that isn’t already answered by the website or marketing material, then email your admissions counselor. For colleges that consider demonstrated interest and are high on your list, convey your strong interest in an email regardless of whether you have a question.  (Not sure how to do this? We have a whole article about it.)
  • Is there a professor whose research fascinates you? Send an email to see if they’re willing to chat. If you do this before a campus visit, you might even be able to meet with them in person or sit in on a class. 
  • Reach out to student organizations on social media to find out more about the clubs or groups you might want to join. Getting a sense of the school from potential future classmates, roommates, or fellow club members can give you a more accurate picture of what your life may look like than a polished campus tour.
  • If you reach out to a student or professor, make sure to send an email to your admissions counselor mentioning you did. Professors and students will likely not report contact with prospective students to the admissions office, so take the initiative. 
Digital Footprint
  • Some colleges track your engagement with their digital presence: emails opened, time spent on their website, and who follows them on social media. Be sure to open any emails schools send you, click on links, and even follow them on social media. 
  • Your online research will not only help you visualize your potential experience there and produce valuable details for your supplemental essays, but it will also send the school a direct message about how interested you truly are in attending.

These strategies aren’t just for you to maximize your chances of admission at schools that consider demonstrated interest—use them as a way to learn more about the school. The more you visit, the more students and professors you speak with, and the more time you spend on the website, the more you’ll be able to envision yourself living and learning on campus.

Still have questions? We’re here to help!