The Meaning of Demonstrated Interest in Admissions

Interest Quotient, Demonstrated Interest, IQ

Emory University absolutely cares about students expressing interest in the school.

Do highly selective colleges care about whether or not students express interest in attending their respective institutions? Yes, without a doubt. But if you listened to admissions officers, well, you might think otherwise. It’s one of the many reasons why one should not take what an admissions officer at a highly selective college says at face value — plain and simple. In fact, in a piece by Kelly Mae Ross for “US News & World Report” entitled “What ‘Demonstrated Interest’ Means in College Admissions,” readers are led to believe that Demonstrated Interest isn’t a factor in admissions decisions at schools like Emory and Princeton. As Ross writes, “Prospective students can ask a college whether demonstrated interest is something it considers, [Andrea Felder, assistant vice provost for undergraduate admissions at American University] says. For AU the answer is yes, but for other schools, such as Emory University in Atlanta, Princeton University in New Jersey and the University of Georgia, the answer is no.” Like gun violence activist Emma González, we call, well, you know the rest.

Demonstrated Interest Matters Big Time in Admissions

Whether admissions officers are visiting high schools, representing their respective college at a fair, or giving a talk at an information session, it’s nothing new to us that they lie to students throughout the admissions process. But when a reporter for “US News & World Report” conveys that Emory University does not consider Demonstrated Interest when weighing a student’s case for admission, well, that’s about as big of an outright fallacy as there could be. Emory University not only considers Demonstrated Interest, the university invented the concept of Demonstrated Interest!

Emory University Invented Demonstrated Interest

The Founder of Ivy Coach, Bev Taylor, often tells a story from back when she was a high school counselor in the early 1990’s. The director of admissions at Emory at the time was quite candid about the importance of Demonstrated Interest in the university’s admissions process. In fact, on the day Emory released Regular Decision notifications that year, a student named Sally came to Bev’s office in tears. It seems David (who was also one of Bev’s students) was admitted to Emory, but Sally was denied.

While one student’s admission to a college and another’s rejection (both from the same high school) may not seem like such a big deal, in this case it was. For starters, Sally took the most rigorous courses at her high school including a total of 7 AP’s, earned 4’s and 5’s on all of them, and had a GPA of 99.5 / 100. She also had an SAT score of 1420. She happened to also be a talented cellist. David had 2 AP courses, a GPA of 92.4 /100, and an SAT score of 1310. David had no real angle, so he would have been considered as well-rounded — typically a kiss of death at highly selective colleges like Emory.

After Sally calmed down and went back to class, Bev called Emory and spoke with the director of admissions. Although she expressed how happy she was that David was accepted, she questioned how David could have been admitted while Sally was denied. His answer was that David had visited campus and attended an Emory information session at a local Marriott. Sally had done neither. David had also emailed Emory a couple of times with a question or two that demonstrated he had really done his homework on the programs at Emory that were of interest to him. A few of Emory’s responses to David’s emails referred David to someone in particular, and each time David followed through and emailed or called that person. Emory actually logged each call and email. Sally, on the other hand, had never emailed or called admissions, not once.

Emory University Still Loves Students Who Love Emory

While it’s true that Emory University no longer asks for Demonstrated Interest on the Common App., up until the college Class of 2018, they asked applicants, “What are the unique qualities of Emory University, and the specific school(s) to which you are applying (Emory College, Oxford College, or both), that make you want to become part of Emory University? In what ways do you hope to take advantage of the qualities you have identified?” And prior to that prompt, the question read, “Many students decide to apply to Emory based on its size, location, reputation, and yes, the weather. Besides these valid reasons to choose Emory as a possible college choice, why is this university a particularly good match for you?”

Also, and up until the college Class of 2018 on the Emory University supplement, there was a question that read,”Which contacts have you had with Emory? (Please check) Which contact has been most helpful?”

☐ Campus overnight visit (date)_______ ☐ Emory video or DVD ☐ Emory Alumnus/a (name) _____
☐ Campus overnight visit (date) ______ ☐ Emory website ☐ Emory coach (name) _________
☐ College fair (date) _______________ ☐ Friend ☐ Emory faculty (name) _________
☐ Fall campus open house (date) _____ ☐ Guidance Counselor ☐ Emory staff (name) ___________
☐ High school visit (date)___________ ☐ Letter from a department ☐ Emory student (name) _________
☐ Local Emory reception (date) ______ ☐ Letter from the Office of Admission ☐ Other _______________________

But just because Emory no longer asks the Why Emory question and just because the university no longer asks applicants to list points of contact with the school, it doesn’t mean they don’t consider Demonstrated Interest. Because if that were the case, they wouldn’t require students to register for campus visits and have students sign in at campus information sessions — now would they?

Have a question about Demonstrated Interest? Let us know your question by posting it below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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1 Comment

  • Futen Wang says:

    Hi. I am a junior in high school, and I am preparing for college applications next year. I just read your article, THE MEANING OF DEMONSTRATED INTEREST IN ADMISSIONS, and I was wondering how I would be able to demonstrate interest in Cornell University? I plan on applying there for early decision and was wondering how I would be able to strengthen my application in the process to that particular school?

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