Have you heard about demonstrated interest colleges and learned that colleges love to admit students who really want to attend their school? Demonstrated interest can be an important part of the application review process, but only at certain schools. Which colleges care about visits, and what are the colleges that track demonstrated interest?
This article lists all the colleges that consider demonstrated interest. Does USC track demonstrated interest? Does Harvard track demonstrated interest? You'll get the answers to those questions in this guide, and you'll also learn what demonstrated interest is, why it matters to schools, and how you can use it to your best advantage.
What Is Demonstrated Interest?
Demonstrated interest is when you show a specific college that you're eager to attend their school. You can show demonstrated interest in multiple ways: visiting campus, following the school's social media channels, joining a mailing list for prospective students, attending admissions events in your area, scheduling an interview (if the school offers them), and applying Early Decision (only if you're certain that's the top school you want to attend).
Why do colleges care about demonstrated interest? Colleges want students who are genuinely excited to be at their school. Students who care about their college are more likely to get high grades, not drop out or transfer, graduate on time, be involved in student activities, and give back to the school after graduation. A school full of students happy to be there is a much more enriching and motivated place than a school filled with students who are apathetic. So, if you really want to attend a certain school, that'll often make them consider your application more closely.
It's important to realize that, even if you really, really want to attend a certain school, being super passionate about it won't be enough to get you admitted if your grades/test scores/etc. are significantly below those of other applicants. Demonstrated interest is just one of many factors schools consider when reviewing applications, and it's not even the most important factor. It's most useful for students who are on the cusp of being admitted or not. Showing a lot of interest in a school can be the extra boost that pushes you into the "accepted" category.
What Are Colleges That Track Demonstrated Interest?
Below are the colleges that consider demonstrated interest as either important or very important when considering admissions. "Very important" vs. "important" is not a clear-cut distinction and often just reflects the language specific schools choose to use. If a school is in either of the tables, it's to your benefit to show demonstrated interest.
You may notice that a lot of these demonstrated interest colleges are smaller private schools. Public schools don't track demonstrated interest as often for two reasons. First, these schools are often large, with tens of thousands of students, and it would be a significant amount of work to track demonstrated interest among all their applicants every year. Second, large public universities are often the top or default choice for many in-state students. These schools expect and receive a lot of interest across the board.
You may also notice that there are no Ivy League or ultra-competitive schools like Harvard, Stanford, or Yale on this list. These schools already know they garner a lot of interest and are often the top choice for applicants. Therefore, it wouldn't make sense for them to spend resources tracking demonstrated interest.
That leaves lesser-known private schools as the main demonstrated interest colleges. These schools use demonstrated interest to try to determine which applicants really want to attend the school, compared to those who are less enthusiastic.
Colleges Where Demonstrated Interest Is Very Important
|Emory & Henry College||VA|
|Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering||MA|
|Marymount Manhattan College||NY|
|Notre Dame de Namur University||CA|
|Sacred Heart University||CT|
|Seton Hall University||NJ|
|SUNY -- Environmental Science and Forestry||NY|
|Thomas Aquinas College||CA|
|United States Air Force Academy||CO|
|United States Naval Academy||MD|
|University of Texas - Tyler||TX|
|Vanguard University of Southern California||CA|
Colleges Where Demonstrated Interest Is Important
|Appalachian State University||NC|
|California Baptist University||CA|
|Christopher Newport University||VA|
|College of the Ozarks||MO|
|College of Wooster||OH|
|Emmanuel College - MA||MA|
|Evergreen State College||WA|
|Florida Institute of Technology||FL|
|Florida Southern College||FL|
|Hawaii Pacific University||HI|
|High Point University||NC|
|Kansas State University||KS|
|Louisiana Tech University||LA|
|Loyola University Chicago||IL|
|Mount St. Mary's University||MD|
|New College of Florida||FL|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||NY|
|Roger Williams University||RI|
|Rutgers University - Camden||NJ|
|Soka University of America||CA|
|St. John's College||MD|
|St. John's College||NM|
|St. John Fisher College||NY|
|United States Merchant Marine Academy||NY|
|United States Military Academy||NY|
|University of Arizona||AZ|
|University of Dayton||OH|
|University of Evansville||IN|
|University of Massachusetts - Amherst||MA|
|University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley||TX|
|University of Tulsa||OK|
|University of Washington - Bothell||WA|
|University of Wisconsin - La Crosse||WI|
|Western Carolina University||NC|
How Can You Determine Which Colleges Care About Visits and Demonstrated Interest?
Colleges can be notoriously cagey about the specific processes they use to determine who gets accepted and who doesn't. They're usually more open about if/how they consider demonstrated interest, but it can still be difficult to figure out what the demonstrated interest colleges are and if a certain school tracks demonstrated interest.
There are two main ways you can figure out whether a school tracks demonstrated interest and how important it is in their admissions process. We’ll cover these two approaches to determining which colleges consider demonstrated interest next.
Work With the School's Admissions Office
The easiest way to learn is to Google, "[school name] demonstrated interest." If it's one of the colleges that track demonstrated interest, it'll often pop up a webpage that explains how demonstrated interest is considered. When available, this information often appears on a school’s admissions website.
If you don't find anything through an internet search, we recommend contacting the admissions office directly. This can be done either through email or a phone call. There's often contact information for prospective students. Use that information and just ask, "Does [school name] consider demonstrated interest during the admissions process?" If the school does, you can follow up with "How important is it?" and/or, "What are the best ways to show demonstrated interest?" It's that easy, and then you'll be guaranteed accurate information.
Search for a School’s Common Data Set
Another quick and easy way to find out whether a school tracks demonstrated interest is to search for their most recent Common Data Set (CDS). The CDS is an annual report that provides some of the most important facts and figures about a college, including admissions statistics, enrollment information, and--you guessed it--whether a school tracks demonstrated interest.
To find a college’s CDS simply Google, “[School name] Common Data Set.” Schools that provide access to their CDS online often include links to this info on their Institutional Research or Admissions webpages. You should be able to view or download a PDF or spreadsheet that includes all of a school’s CDS information.
The drawback to searching a school’s Common Data Set is that the data is long and a little confusing. To help you find exactly what you need, here’s a step-by-step guide to how to find out whether a school tracks demonstrated interest through their CDS (with pictures):
First, you’ll need to search for a school’s CDS online. We’ll use Wheaton College as an example. To find the webpage below, we Googled, “Wheaton College Common Data Set”:
As the picture above shows, Wheaton’s Common Data Sets appear under the school’s “About” section on their website. To find Wheaton’s CDS, you’d need to navigate to the webpage above.
Second, scroll down the webpage and look for links to the actual document(s) containing the CDS. Wheaton provides links to each section of their 2020-2021 CDS on the webpage above, as shown in this picture:
Third, you’ll need to find the section of the CDS that states whether a school tracks demonstrated interest. The good news is that this information appears in the same section of the CDS for every school. The information about whether a school tracks demonstrated interest always appears in section C7 of the CDS, as shown below:
As you can see in the picture above, section C7 of the CDS lists the level of importance of several factors in a school’s admissions decisions. Demonstrated interest always appears in the very last line of section C7, labeled as, “Level of applicant’s interest.” In the picture above from Wheaton’s CDS, you can see that the school rates demonstrated interest as “important.” Schools also have the option to rate demonstrated interest as “very important,” “considered,” and “not considered.”
And that’s how you consult the Common Data Set to find out whether a school tracks demonstrated interest! If you can’t find this information by perusing a school’s admissions website, looking for the school’s Common Data Set is a sure-fire way to find out for certain whether they track demonstrated interest.
Unfortunately, not all schools make their CDS available online. In those cases, you can always reach out to the admissions office (which you should probably do anyway!) to get information about demonstrated interest.
Once you know a school you're interested in tracks demonstrated interest, you should do what you can to show the school how excited you are to attend (without going overboard).
To show interest, get on their mailing lists, and open the emails they send (colleges often track this information). Follow them on social media. If you can visit campus, do that and schedule a tour. If you can't, try to attend a college event near you and speak to someone from the school. If you have a question, contact the admissions office directly. If you need to write a "Why This School" essay, spend a lot of time on it. Above all, work on making your application strong across the board, so that schools will be excited to admit such an accomplished, enthusiastic student.
Summary: Colleges That Track Demonstrated Interest
Which colleges care about visits or other ways of showing interest? Demonstrated interest colleges are those that factor student enthusiasm into the application process. Demonstrated interest colleges tend to be lesser-known private schools because these schools often have the hardest time determining if applicants are genuinely excited to attend their school or are just using their school as a backup choice or safety school.
Once you know the colleges where demonstrated interest matters, you can begin showing it! Don't go overboard, but a campus visit, following them on social media, and contacting an admissions person if you have a question are all great ways to show interest.
What factors go into choosing a college? If you're wondering which college you should attend, check out this great guide on how to choose!
Will you be applying for financial aid? This comprehensive guide takes you through the FAFSA application process step by step.
Worried about choosing a major on your college applications? Learn how to navigate the process and make an informed decision.
Want to build the best possible college application?
We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.
We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.
Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.