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Why Showing Demonstrated Interest is Important for Your College Applications

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

A group of students standing in a crowd. Some hold open notebooks in front of them.

The end of November during your senior year is the prime time for college applications. Application, check. Resume, check. Letters of recommendation, check, check, check.

Many of you reading this have already submitted applications, have heard back from a few, or are just waiting for the right time to submit. The end seems near, and you check your email every day for responses.

However, there is one piece of the application that many students do not know contributes to the decision-making process — demonstrated interest. 

What is demonstrated interest? 

Demonstrated interest is another way colleges and universities assess the students who are applying to their institution. It shows how much a student is invested in attending and can impact whether they receive an acceptance letter.

With the recent changes of many schools becoming test-optional, it serves as a way for colleges to know they are taking in students who want to become immersed in the community they have created. 

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Applying To College

Why does it matter? 

Colleges receive thousands of applications a year from highly qualified students. That means it becomes tough to stand out.

As a college ambassador working for the admissions office at my college, I hear about how demonstrated interest can be the only difference between candidates with the same profile, transcript, and qualifications.

Especially for competitive majors in the sciences, five or seven-year masters, or music and art, it can be a make or break factor when your application gets reviewed. 

How do you show demonstrated interest? 

The main way to show demonstrated interest is to take advantage of all opportunities provided by the school. Going to open houses, talking with admission counselors, and applying early decision/action are ways that people show their interest in a specific institution. These are great opportunities to show off your personality and special characteristics that separate you from other applicants. 

Another method is to complete the optional essays provided by the school. Typically, colleges have the main essay you use to apply, but some may have specific essays relating to the program you want to join or why you want to be accepted.

Complete these, and make sure it shows who you are! If you have personal stories, attended a tour, or spoke with someone who works there, it’s a great way to leave an impression on the person reading your application. 

If you can’t attend in-person programs because of the distance, participate in online programs! I know traveling to colleges can be very expensive, especially when they are in a different state or require flying.

Now more than ever, colleges are adapting to the change in times and incorporating more online events. Going to these events shows that you are still dedicated to attending, even though there may be bumps in the road.  


In the end, it’s all about how you want it. College is complicated, and the path to acceptance is long.

Working with the school you know you would like to attend through that journey makes all the difference. Especially if you’re going to be a first-generation college student, having the extra help and putting in the extra effort can help you tremendously. 

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Author: Dylan Chidick

Hi! My name is Dylan Chidick and I am a senior at The College of New Jersey. I am pursuing a BA in Political Science with a minor in Law, Politics, and Philosophy. I am a first-generation low-income student who has a passion for social justice. Through these articles and sharing my experiences, I hope to be a resource to those looking at colleges.