Demonstrated interest, or engagement, is a factor in admissions at some, but not all, colleges or universities. (I use “colleges” to cover both.) It may be as simple as keeping a file of how often you’ve emailed them or attended information sessions, or as sophisticated as tracking your interactions on their websites. The University of Rochester notes which emails you’ve opened and when you’ve clicked on links they sent you; OWU says that they do note engagement and it can help you but lack of engagement won’t hurt you. You have to ask individual institutions whether or not they count demonstrated interest and if so, what demonstrated interest looks like to them. At all colleges, it pays to foster a relationship with your regional admissions representatives, especially since they are often the ones who will be reading your application.
How do you demonstrate interest? I like the word engagement: engage with the college. Drill down into tabs like “Admissions,” “Academics,” and “Student Life” on the websites, respond to their emails, sign up for events the colleges hold, attend their information sessions when they “visit” your high school, follow their social media, sign up for virtual college fairs. Most importantly, reach out to admissions. They’re real people who want to help you. As Dr. Niles said, “They aren’t trying to put up barriers. If you have questions, reach out to them.”