College admissions has become increasingly competitive over time. There is a concept used in college admissions offices called “demonstrated interest” to indicate whether an applicant has expressed interest in a particular university. DI is looked at differently college to college, so in this article we wanted to discuss how demonstrated interest is calculated, where it matters, and what you as an applicant should do knowing this information.
What is demonstrated interest?
Demonstrated interest is an official term that college admissions offices use to show that certain applicants have expressed interest in a college. There are a few blogs and forums that discuss which colleges like to see students that actively subscribe to emails, visit the campus, email professors, and other key attributes. But there is no single source of truth on the subject.
Over the past few years, we at Empowerly have been working to aggregate this data in a definitive way across all US colleges. We have how the colleges rank demonstrated interest on a scale of 1-4, 4 being very important and 1 not considered, at all 4,000 US colleges.
Where it matters
Demonstrated interest matters differently to different types of colleges. By using data directly from the admissions offices, we can better assess where students and parents should assert their energy in showing interest.
As mentioned before, ways to show interest include marking your attendance during physical college visits, emailing professors, subscribing to email and blog lists for that university, and getting into their digital database somehow. Many of these universities use sophisticated systems to track students, prospective students, partners, and more, usually in a CRM or similar database.
Here are some universities that have marked DI as anything from considered to important (2/4+):
University of Chicago
Washington University in St. Louis (important)
As you can see, around 30% of the top 20 universities at least consider demonstrated interest in the college admissions process, but several well-known names also explicitly say that demonstrated interest is not considered:
What should you do?
The key takeaway for students exploring this is to carefully assess whether the colleges actually care about DI. If they do not, realize that and make sure you bring a notebook to take in notes, meet professors, and learn about the campus. College visits are also useful to learn more about your unique preferences for different campuses. They can color your application essays with real-world examples. Of course, plenty of our students do not visit these colleges and research them online to learn more, and end up accepted.
Demonstrated interest is a unique way for college applicants to think about their complete profile. The essays are important and difficult to write, but the rest of the application also matters. In this article, we dive into some data we have collected directly from the admissions office on what matters and provide counter-examples. We conclude with some action steps that students should take in either scenario.