Interested in College?
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
Interest vs. Demonstrated Interest
On college tours, colleges will often disclose if they track “demonstrated interest” or not. Unfortunately, many families do not know what the term means. Both a narrowly defined “demonstrated interest,” as the term is often used by colleges, and the term “interest” show a likelihood that students will enroll if they are admitted. Your child can increase the odds of admission by showing an interest in enrolling in a particular college.
Demonstrated Interest in Enrolling at a College
Colleges and universities often use the term "demonstrated interest" to mean online interaction. Examples of this include:
signing up online for a college’s e-mail list,
viewing webinars about the college,
how long students take to open e-mails from the college,
how long students take to click on links inside the e-mails (assuming the students click on the links in the e-mails), and
completing an online form (if it exists) indicating that they intend to apply.
Colleges can purchase a software package from Technolution called “Slate” to track this behavior; the online behavior of students isn’t tracked manually. Colleges can easily track this behavior if they choose to do so.
Interest in Enrolling at a College
If a college says it doesn't track demonstrated interest, it still wants students to behave in ways that indicate they are seriously interested in enrolling.
Students can show this “interest” in enrolling in many ways, such as:
applying using Early Decision, which binds the student to attend the college if accepted (how’s that for showing interest?);
visiting the campus in person;
completing optional essays as part of the application;
writing a “why us” essay (if it is an option) as part of the application that describes the unique characteristics of the college;
participating in optional interviews; and
sending a thank you e-mail or note after an interview (Yale felt compelled to include in its guidance on student interviews that applicants should send a thank you note to the interviewer. About two-thirds of the students I interviewed for admission to Duke sent a thank you note).
For instance, an admissions officer at a highly selective university recently said in an interview that his university did not track “demonstrated interest.” Ten minutes later the same person said that the university gave a preference to individuals who apply Early Decision, which shows a commitment to enroll. The bottom line is that colleges are more likely to admit students who appear likely to enroll, whether that is measured by a narrowly defined “demonstrated interest,” or more broadly based on “interest.”
“Yield” – the rate at which admission offers are accepted by students who enroll – is important to colleges. A high yield can make a college appear more prestigious and desirable. A predictable yield helps prevent colleges from either under- or over-enrolling, both of which can cause problems for a college. Since the Common Application makes it much easier for students to apply to a dozen or more colleges, yield is an important concern to hundreds of colleges.
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