How to Play the Game of Demonstrated Interest
Why do colleges consider ‘demonstrated interest’? Because it works. College admissions officers love data. And the data tells them that if you attend an on-campus open house, you are more likely to enroll (if accepted), than your friend who only visited with the high school representative to get out of history class.
If the school you’re applying to considers demonstrated interest, play the game and play it well. If you aren’t sure whether the school considers demonstrated interest, general rules suggest schools with admit rates of less than 10% do not. Schools with admit rates above 20% but less than 50% are the most likely to consider interest. Most are not shy about letting students know, so it’s cool to just ask!
Keep in mind though, your perceived enthusiasm about the university should be genuine. Take time drafting emails and be formal in your communication. Reach out to the student organization leaders of clubs you’re interested in. Contact department chairs with relevant questions about your major, and of course reach out to the admissions officers with an email. And here’s a little secret, many schools have software that can determine if you’ve opened their emails.
If geographically or financially it’s not feasible for you to attend on campus open houses, make an effort to find alumni near you and participate in an interview. It goes without saying that you should register for all online open houses or webinars. And remember we live in the age of Zoom, so the college can still put a face and personality to your name; if you can find a way to make a remote impression, do it!
Lastly, if it’s your number one school, find out if they have an early decision and apply early if they do! This is perhaps the most crucial element to letting the school know it’s your number one choice. Good luck!