Guide to US Applications • Undergraduate

What Is Demonstrated Interest and How Do I Show It?

POSTED ON 10/17/2018 BY The Red Pen

What Is Demonstrated Interest and How Do I Show It? | The Red Pen

Colleges receive thousands of applications from students across the globe and admissions officers (AOs) are always looking for the best and the brightest. In the past 10 years, admissions have become more competitive. For example, Harvard University is notorious for its low acceptance rates, which was 10.5 percent for the Class of 2006 and has fallen to 3.19 percent for the Class of 2026. 

While colleges look for students that have unique qualities, they also look for applicants who are sincere about their desire to attend a particular college and contribute to its campus community. One such way students express this sincerity is through “demonstrated interest”. The act of showing your interest in a particular college through campus tours, overnight visits, information sessions and communication with admissions or faculty has, at times, been known to make a difference in admissions decisions at certain colleges.

When it comes down to two students who are being considered for a single spot in the incoming class–given that most other components including transcripts, test scores and extracurricular activities are comparable–the student who has shown more interest and has established more contact with the college will likely be shown the advantage.

An important point to note, however, is that not all colleges give the same value to demonstrated interest. It is more likely that smaller, liberal arts colleges will view demonstrated interest favourably than larger colleges. For example, Denison University will appreciate that you have met with and spoken to the admissions officer who oversees Indian applications and will factor this into your admission, whereas the University of California, Los Angeles, with its 25,000+ incoming class will not bother to take this into account.

Here are some tips on how you can show demonstrated interest without being overbearing: 

1) Consistency is the name of the game:

Continue reaching out to your college and make contact with a representative or AO, preferably the same one. Write thank you notes, complete digital contact cards and stay in touch with students professors and AOs you have contacted.

2) Apply early:

There is no greater culmination of sustained demonstrated interest than showing a college they are your first choice through applying early, even if you know that they don’t consider demonstrated interest. We recently worked with an applicant who, after his visit to Harvey Mudd, stayed in touch with the AO he met there, applied early decision and was accepted.

3) Pick and choose:

You shouldn’t go out of your mind trying to show each and every college on your list how interested you are through constant sustained contact. That sort of defeats the purpose. Focus on one or two which you actually love and which actually love demonstrated interest and you will find that your efforts have a higher potential for being rewarded in the long run.

4) Don’t overdo it:

The worst thing you can do is transform demonstrated interest into making a bad impression. Don’t bombard AOs with silly questions or ask things that can be easily learned by looking at the college’s website or doing a quick Google search. Don’t follow up a thousand times with needless inquiries. Make your interactions impactful and meaningful.

5) Don’t fake it!

Reaching out to a professor of a department is great, if you really have something to say to them or you have a genuine question to ask. Learn about the department before you reach out, read up on the research coming out of the college and make sure your interests really do align. It doesn’t look good if you contact a professor whose speciality is an analysis of 18th Century Industrial England with a gushing email about the Cold War.

You should also be aware that several universities are now moving away from considering demonstrated interest in their admission decisions. For example, Carnegie Mellon University has stated that in an effort to recruit the most diverse and talented incoming class, they will no longer be factoring demonstrated interest in their decision.

So whether you decide to show your interest or not, make sure you make the most of every interaction. To know more colleges that consider demonstrated interest, get in touch with us.