Everything You Need to Know About Demonstrated Interest Colleges

Everything You Need to Know About Demonstrated Interest Colleges

The college admissions process is many things. Exciting. Intimidating. Frustrating AF. One thing it’s not, however, is secretive. No, really! If you want to know what colleges look for in a successful applicant, all you need to do is visit their website. Most colleges are perfectly happy to reveal the biggest factors that influence their admissions decisions for anyone to see.

Then again, you might not find everything you need to know about the admissions process on their website. Case in point: demonstrated interest. In addition to high school transcripts and extracurricular activities, demonstrated interest colleges also weigh a student’s interest and enthusiasm when making admissions decisions.

So, what does this mean, exactly? How big of a deal is demonstrated interest in college admissions? And how do you show demonstrated interest? Read on to learn everything you need to know about demonstrated interest colleges.

What Is Demonstrated Interest?

As the name suggests, demonstrated interest refers to the ways a student applicant shows that they are genuinely interested in attending a given school. You may be thinking, “Um, isn’t sending in my college application a pretty high-key way of saying that I’m interested?” 

For you, maybe. But thanks to modern application platforms like the Common Application, applying for multiple colleges is now easier than ever. And since some students like to collect acceptance letters like Pokémon cards, many colleges now use demonstrated interest as a way to gauge a student’s likelihood of attending their school.

Related: How to Apply for College

How Important Is Demonstrated Interest in College Admissions?

It varies by college. According to a 2019 report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 16 percent of colleges said that demonstrated interest was a considerably important admissions factor, while 24 percent said it was moderately important.

The thing you need to understand is that some colleges care a lot about their yield rate, or the number of students who accept a college’s offer of admission. Demonstrated interest colleges don’t want to send acceptance letters to students who aren’t likely to attend their school because it could lower their yield rate, which would ultimately hurt their ability to flex their rankings and earn more money.

Which Colleges Consider Demonstrated Interest?

The easiest way to find out is by simply asking the college if they factor demonstrated interest into their admissions decisions. “Master lists” of demonstrated interest colleges can easily be outdated or inaccurate, so you really shouldn’t hedge your bets on info that doesn’t come directly from the source.

master lists demonstrated interest colleges

Here’s our hot take (and by “hot” we mean totally practical): Treat every college like a demonstrated interest college. ’Cuz honestly, what do you have to lose? As long as you’re not calling the admissions office like, 50 times a day, showing your enthusiasm for the school can’t hurt anything. And if you’re not excited to attend the school, then it probably shouldn’t be on your college shortlist in the first place.

How Do You Demonstrate Interest to Colleges?

In the past, the most common way for prospective students to show their interest was to make an official campus visit. You’d go on a student-led tour, ask about the school’s academic programs, make sure they pass the vibe check, and it would all be recorded in your student file. 

But let’s be real for a second. Few students have the time or money to travel to every single college on their list. Plus, the coronavirus pandemic is making in-person visits tricky. 

The good news? There are plenty of other ways to demonstrate your interest that don’t involve making in-person campus visits, including the following:

  • Apply early decision. This is easily one of the strongest ways to demonstrate your interest in a school. Why? Because you can only apply early action to one school and nowhere else. You have one shot at early action, so make it count!
  • Call the admissions office. A super simple way to show your interest is by calling the admissions office. Don’t know what to say on the phone? Ask them about academic programs and how to apply for college scholarships.


  • Attend virtual events. Can’t make an in-person visit? Consider participating in virtual college fairs, webinars, student panels, and other virtual events. It’s an affordable way to connect with colleges without even needing to leave your home.

demonstrated interest factor

The Bottom Line

Demonstrated interest isn’t the biggest factor in the college admissions process. In fact, some colleges don’t consider it at all! But if you are applying for demonstrated interest colleges, it doesn’t hurt to show your enthusiasm since it could be the thing that sets you apart from other student applicants. Good luck!


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