The Ivy Coach Daily

December 7, 2023

Does Harvard Track Demonstrated Interest?

A brick building with a green door is featured at Harvard University.

Are you familiar with the term Demonstrated Interest? In elite college admissions, Demonstrated Interest is the extent to which a college applicant has shown they wish to attend an institution, as measured by the school’s admissions office.

And why would admissions offices track Demonstrated Interest? Because elite universities, which offer admission to only a select set of applicants, want to reserve their offers of admission for students who have exhibited they intend to enroll to boost their yields (or the percentage of admitted students who matriculate).

But do all elite colleges track Demonstrated Interest? Does Harvard University track Demonstrated Interest?

Elite Colleges Track Demonstrated Interest Due to Insecurity

In short, colleges — even la crème de la crème of colleges — track Demonstrated Interest out of insecurity. Think of these schools as though they’re going on dates with applicants. They don’t want to profess their love for so many people only for most to spurn their affection. Instead, they want to be more precise with whom they choose to give their roses.

Cornell University will waitlist or reject an applicant — no matter how strong their grades and scores if they write they wish to attend Cornell because of its picturesque campus, small class sizes, and outstanding professors — details that aren’t specific to Cornell but instead can apply to just about any elite university. After all, why would Cornell offer a slot to an applicant who they think might spurn them for the likes of Harvard or Stanford University?

How Do Colleges Track Demonstrated Interest?

So, how exactly do America’s colleges track Demonstrated Interest? There are multiple ways, which include but are not limited to:

Colleges Track Demonstrated Interest Even When They Explicitly Claim They Don’t

Even when colleges write on their websites not to track Demonstrated Interest, we encourage applicants to raise a skeptical eyebrow. After all, why would so many of these schools have a points of contact section on their supplements or ask Why College essay questions if they didn’t care about Demonstrated Interest?

Interestingly, we credit Emory University for creating Demonstrated Interest decades ago. Emory now claims to not track Demonstrated Interest. When we mentioned as much on X (then Twitter) some years ago, an Emory admissions officer wrote back that they write explicitly on their website that they don’t track Demonstrated Interest. Yes, many colleges also claim on their websites to be need-blind, to not factor in a student’s ability to pay, when weighing their case for admission. Do you believe them?

Harvard, the Exception to the Demonstrated Interest Rule

That said, there has long been one school that we at Ivy Coach have argued does not care to measure Demonstrated Interest. That school? Harvard. In fact, of the eight Ivy League schools, for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle, the only one that doesn’t ask a version of a Why College essay prompt is — you guessed it — Harvard (outside the Ivies, even Stanford University asked a short Why College prompt on their 2022-2023 supplement).

And why would Harvard not measure Demonstrated Interest? That’s an easy one. Harvard’s yield rate for the Class of 2027 was roughly 84%. When students are admitted to Harvard and other universities, they overwhelmingly choose to attend Harvard. As such, Harvard isn’t insecure like just about every other elite university — including even the likes of Yale University and Princeton University.

Ivy Coach Helps Students Demonstrate Interest Effectively

At Ivy Coach, we help our students express their love for elite colleges in all the right ways, hitting all the right notes. And our students don’t need to get carried away.

There was an article a few years back in The Wall Street Journal that discussed how some colleges mine all sorts of data — from the speed at which students opened their emails to how much time they spent on their websites.

But rest assured, America’s elite colleges don’t have the time to analyze such inane data points. It’s why we’d never stress out our students that they need to open up emails from elite colleges with haste but why we do implore them to show their love for colleges effectively. There’s a right way and a wrong way of demonstrating interest. Ivy Coach’s students show their love in all the right ways.

If you’re interested in learning how to effectively demonstrate interest to elite colleges, fill out Ivy Coach’s complimentary consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services.

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