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Demonstrated Interest: Getting on the College’s Radar

Students who DEMONSTRATE INTEREST at colleges who track interest get admitted to college at higher rates.

Colleges want to increase their “yield”. 

Yield is the number of applicants who actually choose to attend a school where they are accepted. In recent years, while the number of applicants to colleges are up, yield is down. I won’t bore you with the reasons why. One way of increasing yield is tracking interest in the school on the part of the student.

Students who demonstrate interest are sending a strong message to the school of “I like you”

Colleges indicate they have a higher yield of students demonstrating interest. 

Not only that, those students demonstrating strong interest are more likely to stay at the school and graduate. Remember, colleges are a business, and they need bodies to fill the seats and stay in the seats through graduation. It's simple economics.

Which Colleges Track Demonstrated Interest?

Not all colleges are taking the time to track interest.  However, the number doing so is quickly increasing. 

According to the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), in 2019 68% of colleges assigned some level of importance to student interest in their school. This could be anywhere from “limited” to “moderate” to “considerate”.

At one school where I was talking to the Vice President of Enrollment told me, “We won’t admit anyone, regardless of GPA or ACT/SAT scores, who hasn’t demonstrated interest prior to application.”

Colleges even have a name for applicants who don’t land on their radar prior to applying: Stealth Applicants.

The colleges where DI matters vary greatly: small, large, public, private, highly selective and not.

How to Demonstrate Interest

  • Plan an official visit (in-person or virtual) where you participate in the guided tour and attend events, college close-ups, and classes. 
  • Send a hand written thank you note after your visit to each person who spent time with you. 
  • Correspond, but don’t become a pest, with the admission’s representative for your area. 
  • “Like” the school’s page on social media, but be sure to clean-up your posts and pictures you are tagged in first. 
  • Participate in any online chats or other methods via the university’s website. 
  • Open and reply to their emails...yes, they track even this.
The goal?  Show regular and continuing interest without annoying those who will ultimately make the decision on your future.

When two colleges, Bucknell and Elon, were asked about this during the Covid time period with limited in-person opportunities, they remarked as follows:

What about demonstrated interest? How does it factor into application review? Any changes?

Elon: pays attention to demonstrated interest, but the manner of how they do that has shifted over the past decade with greater attention to equity and access. Students can connect with someone in admissions via email or virtual session (if a place that tracks attendance). Elon is continuing to expand definition of demonstrated interest, including attending sessions at students’ local high school. 

Bucknell: Binding ED (Early Decision) is the ultimate expression of demonstrated interest. Data mining through click-throughs in emails—shows an indication of a better informed student by the fact that they open and the time they spend on the click-through links. Tools are available, and used by Bucknell, to assess how much students are engaging.

Colleges Who Value Demonstrated Interest

Our friends at College Kickstart have a great blog listing colleges who consider DI very important or important. Find their list in their blog. 

LEAP’s advice?

Stay safe by showing interest in any school you love. Start courting them. Don’t be a stealth applicant.

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