When and How to Demonstrate Interest: Spring, Summer and Fall Timeline:

April 12, 2023, by

If you are in the midst of your college search, chances are you have heard the term “demonstrated interest”. There are many different ways to show colleges that you are especially interested in them before you apply: “demonstrated interest” can mean taking a virtual tour, visiting campus, attending an info session, reaching out to an admissions officer, or even simply writing a well-informed “Why Us?” essay. The important thing to keep in mind is that many colleges take this very seriously—if you can find ways to show that you know the school well, and it’s a top choice, it can help you get in!

We’ve written several articles on this blog with advice on maximizing online college research and using your knowledge to demonstrate interest in ways that will stand out. As usual, our tips are geared toward helping you be more effective in less time by focusing your efforts and keeping your priorities in mind from the beginning.

But good planning is as much about when you do things as how you do them. So we thought it would be helpful to write a brief post outlining a general timeline for demonstrating interest “to-dos”. Keep in mind that everyone’s timeline is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach! But this is a general guide to what you might consider doing in the spring, summer, and fall before you apply:


You have many more important priorities in the spring: coursework, any standardized tests you might be prepping for, and, most crucially, enjoying junior year! But just a little bit of work—an hour per week, say—can do a lot to help you stand out at this point.

  • Attend virtual tours: Take advantage of any remote opportunities through the Admissions Office (check any college’s Admissions Office website to learn about what they offer): virtual tours, Q & A sessions. Many colleges keep track of potential applicants who sign up.
  • Write “thank-you” notes: If you can visit colleges in person in the spring, sign up for an official tour and info session if possible. Afterward, it’s a good idea to write a brief thank-you email to your regional admissions officer or any other admissions officer you interacted with on the tour. Let them know what stood out to you—that helps you stand out to them!
  • Keep an eye out for admissions officers visiting your school or nearby college fairs: This can be a great way to get face time with admissions reps, especially if you are ready with one or two questions to ask that show you have done some thorough research on the college. Again, for anyone you meet, it’s a good idea to follow up with a brief thank-you email.


It might not feel like it yet, but application season is approaching! Summer is an important time to ramp up your research, and, if you have a few top-priority colleges in mind, to think about how you might continue demonstrating interest.

  • Look out for targeted opportunities: Summer is a great time to continue sharing any specific interests with colleges. Do you have one or two academic areas of interest? Some colleges offer to connect you with student ambassadors who are working in those areas—if you ask informed questions, they’ll let the admissions office know. Are you interested in a certain extracurricular activity? You might email the student head of a volunteer organization on campus, an Esports club team, or anything else that stands out to you.
  • Consider emailing admissions officers: This is certainly not required, and some admissions officers are simply too busy to respond to emails from potential applicants. But, if your college research has sparked one or two questions, it can’t hurt to ask, especially if your questions showcase one or more of your interests, as in: “I’m currently researching ________ and am very interested in your _________ program; is there someone I could speak with to learn more?”. Remember, when reaching out to admissions officers, less is more: one brief question can be enough, and you certainly don’t want to flood their inbox with multiple emails.
  • Brainstorm and write your “Why Us?” essays: Many admissions officers say that the best way to show interest is to write a detailed “Why Us?” essay that shows you really know the school. Check out our advice on approaching these


If you’re planning to apply early decision or early action to any colleges, it’s go time! Here are a few last things to keep in mind.

  • Polish your “Why Us?” essays: One of the keys to a good “Why Us?” essay is packing in a lot of information in a small space. As you work toward final drafts, make sure each sentence matters!
  • Look out for interview opportunities: Some colleges offer interviews, and some don’t. some colleges automatically put you in a queue for an interview when you apply, but a few require you to request an interview (usually by filling out an online form). Make sure you are aware of the interview policies for all colleges on your list—spaces can fill up, and an interview is an important way to continue demonstrating your interest.
  • Send in your applications at least a week before the deadline: Nothing says “you’re not a top priority” like submitting an application at the last minute. Get it in early to show them that you really care!

Would you like to discuss your demonstrated interest game plan? Contact the Marks Education Counseling Team here to schedule a meeting.

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