Navigating College Admissions: The Strategic Power of Demonstrated Interest

As parents, we embark on the college admissions journey filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Amidst the whirlwind of applications, essays, and campus visits, a pivotal factor often goes overlooked – demonstrated interest. Having navigated this process as a parent, and now as a professional in the college planning space, I can attest to the strategic advantage of demonstrating authentic interest in the schools that are at the top of your college bound student’s list.
When leveraged effectively, your student gains even more insight about their future school (and gets more excited,) and the admissions office sees a prospective student who is actively engaging and participating in discovering what their school offers – not just checking a box.

What is Demonstrated Interest?

At its core, demonstrated interest refers to the actions students take to convey their genuine enthusiasm for attending a particular institution. It’s a measure some colleges use to gauge an applicant’s likelihood of enrolling if admitted, and it can carry significant weight in admissions decisions.
Why does this matter? Because colleges aren’t merely seeking qualified candidates; they’re looking for engaged individuals who will contribute to their campus community and thrive within their academic environment.

Expected vs. Optional Interest

Distinguishing between expected and optional demonstrated interest can be a game-changer. Expected actions, such as campus tours, information sessions, and meeting application deadlines, are the baseline. Colleges expect prospective students to at least do these things if they are applying to their school with the intention of gaining admission. While essential, these actions alone may not set your child apart.
Optional demonstrated interest, however, involves going the extra mile – personalized interactions with admissions officers, specific mentions of college programs in application essays, and consistent follow-up communications. This proactive approach showcases a deeper level of commitment and can elevate your child’s application in a competitive field.

As a fellow parent who has navigated this journey, I understand the desire to provide your child with every possible advantage. With that in mind, let me share some invaluable tips for effectively demonstrating interest:

10 Ways to Demonstrate Interest

1. Campus Visits: If feasible, arrange for your child to experience the campus firsthand. A physical visit not only signals strong interest but also provides a tangible sense of the college’s atmosphere, allowing your child to envision themselves as a student there, (or not.) It also gives your child the chance to see not only what is on campus, but what the surrounding area has to offer.

social media

2. Social Media Engagement: Encourage your child to follow the college’s accounts, interact with their posts, and participate in live Q&A sessions. This digital footprint showcases their enthusiasm and allows them to stay up-to-date on campus happenings. It will also expose your child not only to marketing and admissions, but they will most likely find related accounts about dining, clubs, sports, and dorms.

3. College Fairs and Representative Meetings: Attending these events offers your child the opportunity to make personal connections with admissions representatives. Thoughtful questions and genuine interest can leave a lasting impression. Many of these fairs and meetings happen at a familiar location to the student such as at their own high school giving them a bit more confidence, instead of at the college.
Encourage your student to have a genuine conversation with the admissions rep at the table. Ask questions that are specific to their interests at the school. And always get the contact information of the person you spoke with so you can personally follow up with them .

4. Virtual Engagement: In today’s digital age, webinars and virtual tours are vital forms of demonstrated interest. Encourage your child to actively participate, take notes, and follow up with questions or insights.

5. Thoughtful Emails: A well-crafted email to the admissions office, inquiring about specific aspects of the program that intrigue your child, shows they’ve done their research and are genuinely invested in the college’s offerings. Asking if they can connect with a student or professor in that area is also an idea that may lead to more knowledge and a great connection.

6. Early Application: Applying Early Action or Early Decision signifies that the college is a top choice for your student. It’s a powerful demonstration of their commitment and sets them apart from the regular decision pool.

7. Tailored Essays: In their application essays, particularly supplemental essays and questions, encourage your child to delve into the specific programs, resources, or experiences offered by the college that align with their goals and aspirations. This requires extra research on your child’s part, but this kind of personalization not only showcases their interest but also their fit for the institution.

8. Insightful Interview Questions: During interviews, your child can demonstrate their serious consideration of the college by asking thoughtful questions about academic programs, campus life, or opportunities for growth. Preparation and genuine curiosity are key.


9. Follow-Up: After campus visits, interviews, or other interactions, like college fairs, a thank-you note or email expressing continued interest can keep your child top of mind. This simple gesture reinforces their enthusiasm and appreciation for the college’s time.

10. Continuous Engagement: Throughout the application process, encourage your child to share updates about recent accomplishments, extracurricular activities, or academic achievements with the admissions office. This ongoing dialogue keeps their application fresh and their interest palpable.

Impact on Admissions

While demonstrated interest alone won’t secure admission, it can be a tipping factor, especially in close decisions. Colleges are keenly focused on maintaining high yield rates – the percentage of accepted students who choose to enroll. Students who have consistently demonstrated genuine interest are perceived as more likely to accept an offer of admission, making them desirable candidates.

In the competitive arena of college admissions, where qualified applicants abound, demonstrated interest can serve as a powerful differentiator. It’s an opportunity for your child to communicate not just their qualifications, but their authentic enthusiasm for becoming an integral part of the college community. As you navigate this journey together, view each interaction with prospective colleges as a chance to convey your child’s eagerness to join their ranks.

Embrace the power of demonstrated interest, and watch as your child’s application takes on a new level of depth, appeal, and competitive edge. With strategic planning and a proactive approach, your family can confidently embark on this exciting adventure, equipped to leave a lasting impression and pave the way for success.