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Demonstrated interest - what it is and why it matters

In the eighth of her twelve-part series, Katherine Ernst Mehta talks about demonstrated interest and how it can increase your chances of being accepted by a US university.
BY Katherine Ernst Mehta |   07-10-2016

As opposed to other admissions criteria like GPA and SAT, which are easy to measure, the concept of demonstrated interest is a little more ambiguous.  Demonstrated interest is an important consideration in the admissions process, however, and one that can often improve a student’s chances of admission.

Why Does Demonstrated Interest Matter?

Admissions officers at many schools will look at an applicant’s demonstrated interest in attending their school, because they must also consider their school’s yield – the number of admitted students who ultimately choose to attend.  Colleges need to predict their yield fairly accurately to make sure that they meet certain enrolment targets.  By enrolling students who have demonstrated high levels of interest, colleges can better predict their yield, and subsequently meet their targets.  Students who are eager to attend are also less likely to transfer to another institution, a factor that is often considered in college ranking criteria.

So, what does all of this mean?  That it’s to your advantage to make sure that the schools you’re applying to also know that you’re interested in them.

Ways to Demonstrate Interest

  1. Visit campus
    Most colleges keep track of who has visited campus, as an indicator of demonstrated interest.  Campus visits can also help you demonstrate your interest through stronger supplement essays and interviews.
  2. Attend admission sessions and college fairs
    If a college that you’re interested in is either hosting an admissions information session or participating in a college fair, go visit them!  At these sessions, you’ll meet the admissions officers and gain valuable information for your supplement essays.  Some schools even keep track of the students who have met them at these sessions.
  3. Communicate with admissions offices, current students, and faculty
    Reaching out to current students, faculty, and admissions officers with meaningful questions can help demonstrate your interest in a school, as well as give you insider information on what that school is all about.
  4. Opt for admission interviews
    If schools offer an optional admissions interview, go for it!  Some schools even allow you to request an interview, either with alumni or admissions representatives.

  5. Put time into your supplement essays
    Many colleges have a supplement essay question that asks why you want to attend that school.  Put some thoughtful consideration into your response, and research the school so you can highlight specific features that appeal to you.  Ensuring your essay isn’t generic will show the school that you’ve done your research, and demonstrate that you’re a good match.
  6. Apply Early
    Applying under the binding Early Decision (ED) option is perhaps the best way to demonstrate interest, because you’re guaranteeing that, if you’re accepted, you will attend.  Of course, the ED option should only be used if you’re absolutely sure that this is the right college for you.

    But even applying through the non-binding Early Action (EA) option indicates your interest, and shows that you haven’t just added the school to your list as a last minute decision.

Katherine Ernst Mehta is CEO and Founder of Edvanta Consulting, which works with international high-school students seeking admission to US universities. She first came from the US to India for research, and now lives in Delhi. You can reach her on Twitter at @EdvantaCo. Previous instalments of her 12-part series on US college admissions are here.


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