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Part 1: The Best Ways to Show Prospective Colleges You’re Interested

The term Demonstrated Interest is used in college counseling and college admissions to signify those steps a student can take to show, or demonstrate, to a school that they are committed to attend if accepted. This is important to admissions officers as they work to have the highest number of students they admit, accept their offer, and enroll (known as yield).

Not all colleges track Demonstrated Interest and use it as a criterion in their admission decision; but, for those that do, read on to learn my recommended steps to show your top college(s) how strong your interest is in attending their university.

Demonstrated Interest Tip #1

Apply Early. Applying through Early Decision is one sure fire way to demonstrate interest as it means you are committed to attending their college. Early decision is binding. If the college accepts your application, you will have to attend.

Demonstrated Interest Tip #2

Write a well-researched “Why us” essay. Dig deep into a college’s website including its mission statement, your major and curriculum requirements, and the extracurricular activities you are interested in participating should you be accepted.

According to Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy, “…the purpose of the “Why us?” or “Why this college” essay is to demonstrate--through specific details and examples--why you’re a great match for a particular school. In some cases, the “Why us?” essay is an important way to demonstrate interest in a particular college…where essentially you get a chance to show the school why you feel you’d be a great fit for one another.”

Demonstrated Interest Tip #3

Touring a college's campus and attending an admission information session has long been a favorite way for teens and their parents to demonstrate interest. But college visits can be expensive and time-consuming, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, impossible.

Enter live, virtual campus tours and admission sessions! Colleges have invested significant expense and infrastructure to bring these traditional visits to student’s wherever they and their computer may be located. This innovative practice is here to stay as it democratizes the campus visit, broadening a college’s reach across geographic and socio-economic lines.

Demonstrated Interest Tip #4

Representatives from college admission offices visit high schools around the country, virtually since the pandemic, to present informational programs to prospective students. By attending these programs, students can let the college know they are seriously interested. In fact, in many cases, the reps are admissions officers from the college, so students have a unique opportunity to make contact with a person who may be evaluating their application in the future.

Covid-19 has made contact with college admissions officers more critical than in years past. Angel Perez, Chief Executive of the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC), explains:

More than 1,600 institutions have made it optional for students to submit admissions test scores in an acknowledgement of cancelled testing sessions … admissions officers will lean more heavily on essays, grades and the rigor of coursework, pre-pandemic extracurriculars and more than ever, the interest students show in attending.“Usually this time of year, schools would be all over the country and the world, recruiting. ... But now they’ve moved into this online space where they are seeking individual conversations, interviews, engagement with students and families,” Perez said. “So I would also say to students, raise your hand and reach out individually to an admissions counselor if you’re interested in those institutions.”

Demonstrated Interest Tip #5

Attend virtual (through 2021) college fairs. When you register your attendance and sign in virtually, the college(s) see you’ve attended and heard their presentation.

Upcoming fairs include:


Fair dates vary, beginning on January 31, 2021 with additional dates through May 2, 2021

BigFuture Days

Hosted by College Board, students can explore colleges they’re interested in, participate in live Q&A sessions and chats hosted by college admissions teams, and even meet college student representatives. BigFuture events are segmented into U.S. regions including: West & Southwest (Feb. 6), Southeast (Feb. 23), Midwest (March 11) and Northeast (March 7).

Christian College Virtual Fairs

With over 40 events with groups of Christian colleges presenting on wide ranging topics by majors from Engineering to Health Science to Visual & Performing Arts, by student demographic from Latinx to BIPOC/Minority to Homeschool students, and by region from SoCal to Eastern Great Lakes to Northeast colleges – there are bound to be several presentations you don’t want to miss.

Southern Association for College Admission Counseling

The Virtual Fair is happening on Thursday, February 11, 2021.

Demonstrated Interest Tip #6 - #10

Please join me next week for five more ways to show demonstrated interest!


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This blog was written Janice Royal, MA. She is the Founder and CEO of Royal College Consulting.

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