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Does “Demonstrated Interest” Matter to Colleges?



"Demonstrated Interest" refers to the students' proven yearning and enthusiasm for the university shown through materials and actions in their college applications.


There are a number of ways to show demonstrated interest. An example: attending a college interview.


Carnegie Mellon University has stated that the interview is a great channel to supplement your college application. For the vast majority of applicants, it is considered "common wisdom" to show interest in the college they are applying. After all, universities care a lot about their yield rates, and they certainly hope that most of the students they admitted will enroll.


Demonstrated interest is, in fact, a commonly recognized factor in the admissions process. In a survey of 447 universities published by NACAC, demonstrated interest is ranked the seventh among all considered factors in college applications.


16% of universities consider it to be very important, 23.9% consider it important, 28% considers it in their review but not with high level of importance, and 32.1% do not consider this factor.



Source: NACAC


So, which universities consider demonstrated interest, and which ones do not?


Among all Ivy League schools popular among ethnic Chinese applicants from all over the world, 5 do not pay attention to whether students show interest in the university or not, two of them will consider students' interest to a certain extent, and Columbia University has not reported its policy. Why are these schools entitled to care so little about demonstrated interest? Since Ivy League schools enjoy high academic reputation and have larger applicant pools, they generally do not have to worry about yield rates.


Source: Commondataset


But of course, these are more or less exceptions. Overall, 40% of colleges still consider demonstrated interest important. For example, Washington University in St. Louis, ranked #14 among all National Universities by U.S. News, considers demonstrated interest to be "Very Important", as shown in the chart below.


Source: Commondataset


Whether or not colleges consider demonstrated interest to be important, it can’t hurt to show some interests in schools you are applying to. So, how to show colleges that you are interested in them? Here are some specific ways to help you do that:


Apply during the ED/EA round. The Early Decision Round, particularly because of its binding policy, is the most direct way to show your enthusiasm in the target institution.


Subscribe the university's mailing list to receive the latest updates from the university.


Check out the emails sent from the university. Some universities will track their viewership, and while the main purpose is to reach more audience, you may still learn something new from from these emails.


Do some in-depth school research. Knowing what draws you to this school and what matches with you is a must for writing your “why school" essay.


Participate in College Fairs or Campus Visits (in-person or virtual). Talk directly to the admissions office and walk through the campus.


Contact the university's regional representative. You can ask them questions you are curious about that are not answered on the official website.


Follow the University on social media platforms.


Attend an interview. Although, most school interviews are by invitation only.


Submit optional supplemental essays in your application.


Accept your waitlist. If you were not immediately offered admission, then accept the waitlist and submit supplementary materials as required by the university.


Students certainly don't need to do everything mentioned above. But if you are passionate about a certain school, you should try to leverage that passion into a channel to learn more about the school, as well as about your own preferences and what you are looking for in universities.


Demonstrated interest is not simply an indicator to admission officers reading your applications. Perhaps more importantly, demonstrated interest is also an indicator of your personal preferences as an applicant, and it is important for students to identify their goals and needs early on in the college application process. The goal of education is to support every student to fulfill their long term goals, and at Enlighteens, we are dedicated to helping students realize their unique qualities and individual backgrounds and finding the best and fittest learning environment that they will thrive in.

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