I first heard the phrase “demonstrated interest” when I was well into my 20s and just beginning my admissions career. As a senior in high school, my mind focused more on getting through homework, learning the saxophone (my true love was and always will be the clarinet, but in senior year my school band was teeny tiny and needed a sax…so I learned!), and making sure to squeeze in friend time between my cashier shifts. On top of all that, I also had to make my way through the college application process and ensure everything was in tip-top shape for the January 1 college application deadline. And back in 2007, “demonstrated interest” was most certainly not in my vocabulary during that final hustle to January 1. And if I had known, I would have thought to myself, “But how can I even show colleges that I love them?! There are just a few weeks left!!”
Let’s breathe (I am picturing a stressed out 17-year-old Beky in an Aeropostale hoodie and full-on bangs as I type that) and first acknowledge that demonstrated interest is a very real part of the highly selective application process (for Tufts and many other institutions). Colleges are institutions with their own needs, so in the end, our decision on your application (notice how I said that our decision is on your application, not on you – our decision is not a value judgement on you) is a little bit about you and a little bit about us. Yes, we want students with the academic muscle to thrive here, but we also want students here who are just darn excited to be Jumbos.
So now let’s talk about how to show colleges some love in the weeks leading up to January. I will focus on ways to demonstrate interest beyond a campus tour and admissions information session, because 1. not everyone has the means or time to visit college campuses and 2. I want to show you that there are in fact many ways to show off your interest beyond just setting foot on campus.
Do your research! Hopefully you’ve already done that if you have decided to apply, but take some time with the resources online to better understand who we are. Scour through more blogs. Poke around the majors and minors page. Get in touch with a current student (but please note that it's coming up on finals for them!). Take a virtual tour. Read JUMBO Magazine. Check out the latest posts on Tufts Now. Make sure that Tufts is a community you are excited about joining…in other words, to show demonstrated interest, you first must have an actual, legitimate interest.
By putting Tufts on your list and hitting the submit button on your application, you are showing us interest! We assume that all of our applicants have at least a little bit of interest in joining the Jumbo family.
Be purposeful and thoughtful in your supplement!
We require all of our applicants to answer two supplemental writing prompts as part of our application. The required “Why Tufts?” essay is really your time to highlight the specific things that draw you to our campus. I do want to stress the part about being specific in your “Why Tufts?” essay. Oftentimes students will try to cram in many, many, many parts of Tufts they love, and in the end, their overstuffed “Why Tufts?” reads more like a list and doesn’t tell me anything about how they see themselves on our campus. Specificity allows you to show off your knowledge of our community while also helping admissions officers picture you here.
For the second part of our supplement, you have options! Pick the option that you know you can answer authentically and earnestly. This year, I will read close to 3,000 supplemental essay questions, and it is surprisingly easy to tell when a student just isn’t excited or honest. Put a lot of hustle into your supplement. Know that the time you take pays off – we notice when students take the time to craft their narrative and show off how they think about the world around them.
Just be a great fit!
Being 17 is hard, and applying to college is also hard. It’s a big deal to be thinking about where you’ll be spending the next 4 years of your life, and we know that there are a lot of question marks on your end. Some students who end up applying to Tufts might not have us at the top of their list or have shown demonstrated interest in the traditional sense. But some of those students will show us through their application that they are the quintessential Jumbo, and they just don’t know it yet. So we’ll take a chance on those students whose “Tuftsiness” (I can make up words here, right?) shines through their application, and we’ll use the month of April to show them why Tufts should be their number one.
Now that you have a better understanding of what demonstrated interest is and how we use it, go forth with this knowledge. I hope this helps a bit as you tackle these final weeks leading up to January. You got this!