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    Demonstrated Interest in College Admissions (With List of Colleges That Count It)

    By Will Geiger

    Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

    Full Bio

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Learn about our editorial policies

    Updated: April 29th, 2024
    Demonstrated Interest in College Admissions (With List of Colleges That Count It)

    Demonstrated interest is how colleges assess how interested a student is in attending their school. Demonstrated interest can also impact whether a student is admitted or not! This means that it can be a very important part of the admissions process for students.

    However, don’t stress–we have you covered! Keep on reading to learn more about everything you need to know about demonstrated interest including:

    Why it’s important

    Demonstrated interest is increasingly becoming an important part of the admissions process. In fact, for some students, not demonstrating interest can result in a different admissions decision than if a student had demonstrated interest. So this could mean a deny or wait list instead of an accept or in the case of Early Decision or Early Action candidates, a deferral to the Regular Decision round. This is why it is so important to have an understanding of demonstrated interest, why it matters, and how you can “demonstrate” interest to the colleges on your list.

    Firsthand experience

    “We are never going to see them…”

    I heard this so many times during admissions committee when I worked as an admissions counselor at Kenyon College. The story was the same every time–a smart student who was a “stealth applicant” (no, they weren’t a secret agent…a stealth applicant is just an applicant whose first “contact” with the college is the actual application).

    In this case, the student we were talking about was a great student with stellar test scores, but they literally didn’t take advantage of any opportunities to learn about Kenyon including interviews, college fair visits, and even marketing emails (yes, we can track that).

    Demonstrated interest can absolutely be a make or break factor in admissions decisions and something that all students need to be thinking about.

    The highly selective liberal arts college that I worked at absolutely considered interest when discussing an applicant who may have been on the fence. So it can certainly help a student who is on the bubble, but remember, no amount of demonstrated interest will make up for a transcript littered with poor grades.

    How can students demonstrate interest? 

    This is the big question for students–“how do I demonstrate interest?” Luckily there are multiple ways that students can demonstrate their interest in a particular college or university. Keep on reading to learn about five main types of ways!

    Early Decision

    This is a separate conversation, but perhaps the ultimate way of “demonstrating interest” in a college is by applying Early Decision. There is absolutely a statistical advantage to applying early decision at so many schools. But Early Decision is only a good move if you are 100% sure that the school is right for you AND you would be happy with the financial aid awarded.

    Interviews

    This is dependent on the school, but if an interview is offered, you should interview. Whether it is off- campus, with an alumni, or on-campus, all applicants should (even if the school says it is not necessary to do so). The ideal scenario would be to interview on-campus if given the opportunity, because it shows that you made the additional effort to visit campus. 

    Campus tours & information sessions

    Campus tours and information sessions can be another way that a school counts demonstrated interest. If you happen to be on campus for a tour, you should also interview if possible. Always remember to make your tour “official” and fill out a card or form from the admissions office that indicates that you were on campus.

    The campus visit is also contextual–for instance, if a student who lives in New Jersey or Connecticut, but does not bother to visit Barnard College in New York City, the admissions team may wonder why they didn’t make the short trip. However, if the same prospective Barnard student happened to live in Hawaii or Utah, it would be more understandable if they didn’t have the chance to visit. If you don’t have the financial means to visit campus, take advantage of free tours on CollegeReel and YouVisit

    Also read: Top questions to ask on a college campus visit

    Optional essays

    As with anything in this process, you should do everything that is optional! If a school gives you an optional essay to write, you should write that essay WELL. A sloppy essay is just as bad (if not worse) than not doing the essay at all, so put care into the optional but recommended things in the admissions process. These things can make you stand out.

    Check out our essay writing primer if you are looking for some extra help!

    Don’t miss: How to write a great supplemental essay

    Contacting your admissions rep

    Many colleges have specific admissions officers who read applications by the territory they travel to. These will be the people potentially advocating for your file at the admissions table. Whether you meet an admissions person at a college fair or send them an e-mail, both are great ways of making a connection with your admissions officer.

    Remember, not all schools consider demonstrated interest

    With so many things in this process, the answer is “it depends” (see how many times we say this on our site). As a rule of thumb, the smaller, non-super elite schools count demonstrated interest. Nonetheless, demonstrated interest has never hurt someone*, so I always advise students to err on the side of sending that e-mail or doing that interview if it is possible.

    *Demonstrated interest does not mean e-mailing your admissions officer each day for two months. Use good judgement and don’t do anything that could fall under the legal umbrella of “harassment.”

    Demonstrated dis-interest

    The other thing to keep in mind is that “demonstrated dis-interest” is a separate thing. So, if a college offers optional interviews or a writing supplement, you should always do them. This is another opportunity to demonstrate that you are a great fit at a particular school and to reveal your perspective, character, and intellectual curiosity.

    While there might not be a downside to not doing “the extras,” by opting out, you are missing an opportunity.

    See also: How to stand out as a college applicant

    Which colleges count demonstrated interest?

    These colleges and universities count demonstrated interest in their admissions process. Note that some colleges count weigh it more heavily than others (which is why you will see “very important”, “important”, or “considered” next to the name of the college). This is a list of some of the colleges that do/don’t count demonstrated interest, so do your own research!

    • American University (very important)
    • Barnard College (considered)
    • Bates College (important)
    • Boston University (important)
    • Carnegie Mellon University (important)
    • Case Western Reserve University (important)
    • Colby College (considered)
    • Colorado College (considered)
    • Connecticut College (considered)
    • Dickinson College (very important)
    • Elon University (considered)
    • The George Washington University (considered)
    • Grinnell College (considered)
    • Hamilton College (considered)
    • Haverford College (considered)
    • Kenyon College (important)
    • Kenyon College (important)
    • Middlebury College (considered)
    • Mount Holyoke College (considered)
    • New York University (considered)
    • Oberlin College (considered)
    • Reed College (important)
    • Rice University (considered)
    • Skidmore College (important)
    • University of Richmond (considered)
    • Union College (important)
    • Trinity College (considered)
    • Tufts University (considered)
    • Villanova University (considered)
    • Wake Forest University (considered)
    • Washington and Lee University (considered)
    • Washington University in St. Louis (considered)
    • Wellesley College (considered)
    • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (considered)

    Which colleges don’t count demonstrated interest?

    • Amherst College
    • Brown University
    • Bucknell University
    • California Institute of Technology
    • Carleton College
    • Claremont McKenna College
    • Colgate University
    • College of William & Mary
    • Cornell University
    • Dartmouth College
    • Harvard University
    • Macalester College
    • Scripps College
    • Smith College
    • Vanderbilt University
    • Vassar College
    • Wesleyan University
    • Williams College
    • Yale University

    All of the data cited is from the Common Data Set.

    Read more: How to respond to the additional information section of the Common App

    Frequently asked questions about demonstrated interest in college admissions

    Do colleges actually track demonstrated interest?

    Yes, some do track interest. Schools track demonstrated interest in their own ways. Some track how students took advantage of opportunities to connect and learn about a potential college.

    Do Ivy League schools track interest?

    There is no data on whether or not Ivy League schools track interest. The Ivy schools claim they do not,  and that is most likely true due to the sheer number of applicants to open seats they receive.

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