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The Importance of Demonstrated Interest and ED in College Admission

According to NACAC, the National Association of College Admission Counseling, nearly 70% of colleges in America consider a student’s demonstrated interest when making their admission decisions. Of that 70%, almost half view a student’s interest in attending their college as either of considerable importance or moderate importance. In comparison, 92% of colleges consider high school grades to be of considerable or moderate importance, and 86% consider academic rigor to be of considerable or moderate importance. Some colleges consider demonstrated to be one of the most important factors in their admissions decisions. Examples of colleges that consider demonstrated interest to be very important are American University, Morehouse College (an HBCU), Dickinson College, Syracuse University, the University of Arizona, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of San Diego, and Whittier College.

Many top colleges indicate that they do not consider demonstrated interest at all. Examples colleges that make this claim are all eight Ivy League colleges (Harvard, Yale, Brown, UPenn, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Cornell) most of the Claremont colleges (except Pitzer), all the University of California colleges, as well as Stanford, MIT, U Chicago, Wash U St Louis, and Duke. However, this does not mean that these colleges do not give an advantage to students to those who apply ED.

Applying to a college ED is the ultimate way of proving your interest in attending that college, of course, because ED is a binding decision. If you get into any college under their ED plan, you must accept, although exceptions are made in cases where a non-ED college offers a better financial aid package. Students can only apply to one college using the ED option, while they can apply to as many schools using the EA option as they would like. EA is a non-binding program that does not offer the huge admission advantage that ED does. Restrictive Early Action, known as REA, is a non-binding program that does not allow students to apply to any other private university using their ED or EA option. It does, however, allow students to apply to public universities using one of their early notification programs.

It is important to keep in mind that applying ED does, in most cases, give a significant advantage to students in the admission process, even at colleges that say they do not track demonstrated interest. Using a few of the examples above, applying to Brown University, Dartmouth College, Claremont McKenna, or Duke through ED gives students an almost four times greater possibility of being accepted.

Many colleges consider demonstrated interest to be moderately important. That still means that it is considered and could provide an advantage to a borderline candidate or could also provide a reason to reject a possible candidate. Examples of colleges that consider demonstrated interest to be moderately important are Barnard, Bates, BU, Brandeis, Colby, Georgia Tech, Haverford, and NYU.

As you are choosing colleges to apply to and to visit, you should be aware of their policies regarding demonstrated interest. You might want to prioritize visits to colleges that track and consider demonstrated interest over colleges that don’t. Of course, getting points for demonstrated interest is not the only reason for visiting a college campus. You also will want to get a feel for the campus itself to consider factors such as size, location, climate, culture, and overall impression.