September 18, 2023

Boost Your College Admission Chances: How High School Students Can Demonstrate Genuine Interest

What is Demonstrated Interest?

Everyone knows college admissions officers scour students’ transcripts for rigorous classes and grades, while reading the multiple essays our students have spent hours and, sometimes, shed tears on. Students have filled out applications with information they didn’t even know about themselves so colleges and universities can discover what type of person each student is and whether that student is a good fit for that school. One thing most people don’t know about the college admissions process is demonstrated interest.

Demonstrated interest is how enthusiastic a student is toward a university or college. Did a student visit the campus on an “official” visit? When a particular college visited his or her high school’s college fair in the lunchroom, did your student stop by to say “hi” and ask a question? Even the simple act of opening an email from a college shows interest.

In the U.S. News and World Report article “What ‘Demonstrated Interest’ Means in College Admissions” by Kelley Mae Ross, a 2017 report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling states that “13.7 percent of colleges surveyed rated demonstrated interest as having considerable importance” while making decisions on freshman applications. According to the article, just over a quarter of respondents said demonstrated interest was moderately important. At some universities, demonstrated interest ranks up there with SAT and ACT scores.

Click the video above to learn more about demonstrating interest from Class 101 College Advisor, Randy Stegemoller.

Start by doing research at your top colleges

If a student is interested in a college or university, asking the school if demonstrated interest is part of the criteria in the freshman admission is great way to figure out the approach your student should take in the admissions process. 

The first thing to do when considering a school is research. Does that school have the program or major your child wants? Look at the statistics of the school — admissions criteria (SAT/ACT scores, GPA), student population, size of city, associated costs, and distance from home. If, after going through that process, your student is still interested, schedule that campus visit. If the college is far from home and travel costs are prohibitive, be honest with the admissions office. Have your student email or call the admissions office to express that this school is a top choice, but financially a visit will be difficult. 

Visiting campus to show demonstrated interest

Visiting campus demonstrates interest and there are different types of campus visits to consider. One option is meeting with the admission officers during the end of sophomore or beginning of junior year to make sure the classes your student has taken or plans to take meet that school’s criteria. This can be a very important visit while showing that your student is already considering that college. If your student wants to have a “fun” senior year full of easy classes, he or she may need to rethink that plan if an admissions officer at his or her top choice college says that they want to see a rigorous schedule through graduation. If your child is missing any required courses, visiting an admissions office early will give your student time to work that class into his or her schedule. 

Sometimes, programs at a university will offer special camps or events. Not only does your student get a great college experience, which will help determine if he or she likes the campus or program enough to attend, but the college sees that your student has demonstrated an interest in its school — taking a week out of summer for a camp or attending an event shows that your student has prioritized this school. 

My daughter Sydney, a sophomore at Indiana University, had narrowed down her college choices to Purdue for engineering and Indiana University for business during her junior year.

As a junior, she learned about a camp for girls who were interested in Kelley School of Business. She applied, got accepted, and spent a week on campus in a dorm experiencing the life of a business student. Sydney said, “I was able to meet multiple professors and school administrators through this experience, and I learned a business major was for me.” When it came time for the admissions process, her application was bolstered by her commitment to IU by attending a week-long camp in a program she was interested in.

Applying early to demonstrate interest

One of the best ways your student can show that he or she is interested in a school is to apply early. Not only will you hear sooner if your child is accepted, but colleges hand out scholarship money until they run out. Applying early will get you in the process while there is still money available. Also, if your application shows up the day before the deadline, they may have met their quota of students, and they know you didn’t put them high on your list of things to do.

Demonstrating interest recap

To recap, here are some ways high school students can show demonstrated interest in their top choice colleges and universities: 

  1. Open the emails from the colleges he or she is interested in
  1. Visit his or her favorite colleges at high school college fairs — introduce yourself and ask a question or two! 
  1. Make an appointment to meet with an admissions officer to discuss your high school transcript and future courses so you can adjust if they give preference to additional classes
  1. Attend camps and events at colleges and universities to show you are prioritizing those schools

And, remember demonstrated interest has to come from your student, not you. Get your student to make those calls or send those emails!

Authored by Kellan Way, College Advisor at Class 101 Bloomington, Indiana

We’re here to help. To learn more and schedule a free consultation, reach out to us at one of our locations: 

 Class 101 Brandon, FL                   Class 101 Carmel, IN                    Class 101 Bloomington, IN   

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