Importance of Demonstrated Interest in College Admissions

Demonstrated Interest, Colleges and Interest Quotient, Demonstrating Interest in Colleges

Colleges want students who love them. They’re insecure like that.

Demonstrated Interest. Perhaps you’ve heard the term as it applies to highly selective college admissions. Demonstrated Interest is the extent to which a college applicant has shown a motivation to attend a given institution if offered admission. You see, highly selective colleges want to admit students who they believe in their heart of hearts will matriculate if they’re among the small percentage of students chosen for admission. And why? To boost the school’s yield percentage and invariably its all-important ranking. That’s right. Colleges absolutely care about their rankings in spite of what an admissions officer may have told you at that information session you attended last Saturday.

And what are ways college applicants can demonstrate their interest? For starters, they should visit the institution. Visit, visit, visit! Take the tour. Attend the info session. Additionally, if a school asks a question on its application that reads something like, “Why do you want to attend this college,” every sentence in that essay should be specifically tailored to that institution. Sentences like, “The school’s liberal arts education will allow me to delve into a myriad of fields” sounds as yucky to you as it does to admissions officers at highly selective colleges. So don’t write frivolous sentences like this — sentences that can apply to more or less any college in America.

Now there was a piece recently by Scott Jaschik on “Inside Higher Ed” that offered insight into Demonstrated Interest (which, by the way, is also known as Interest Quotient or, as we’ve called it for decades, “I.Q.”). The piece cites a research study conducted by three Lehigh economics professors and a researcher from Mathematica Policy Research that concludes the practice of valuing a college applicant’s Demonstrated Interest favors the wealthy. And why? Well, it costs money to be able to visit colleges. It’s true. But we also believe it’s a duh. Of course Demonstrated Interest favors the wealthy. Colleges value students who have taken the time to visit their campuses. Making these visits costs money, money underprivileged students may not have to spend on college visits. It seems quite obvious to us — undeserving of a whole research paper to be published in “Contemporary Economics Policy,” but it is what it is.

And, while you’re here, are you familiar with which school — we’d argue — came up with Demonstrated Interest many years ago? It’s a school that still highly values Demonstrated Interest today. In fact, we’d argue that no school values it more. Any guesses? Hint, hint: it’s the school pictured above. Emory University.


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