So I just discovered that I really like Brown and think that I could be a good fit for me. Problem is, I only realized this recently and so I haven't visited, interviewed, done anything to show interest (I also obviously missed ED).
It does say that, but think about it -- if that were true, the percentage of students who get deferred from ED would be a lot lower.
Yes, they do take the time to email you, and to survey you about your experiences, but the valuable ones are through the Bruin Club anyway, and not the admissions office. Relax. Call our email them though, if it makes you feel better - they are super-nice at both places.
What are you relying on to say Brown's ED pool is more qualified than the RD one. That seems unlikely given the SCEA programs at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. A lot of close calls who did not quite make it SCEA at those schools will subsequently apply to Brown, making RD more competitive.
Since the senior year grades are not available and there is less time to retake the SAT, it is pretty widely accepted that the ED pool is considered to be more competitive than the RD pool for every school.
Getting back to the OP though, my understanding of demonstrated interest means that your application (and then subsequently your interview) demonstrates that you have sufficiently researched Brown and identified why Brown (as opposed to one of the other top schools) is a good fit for you.
For example, when I interviewed someone a couple years ago, I asked them what sorts of clubs and things at Brown they were interested in joining and they couldn't tell me a single one. I took that as a sign that this person wasn't that interested in Brown. The fact that they visited the school with their parents didn't mean anything to me.
Believe it or not, there are some students who could get into HYP who don't apply, and don't want to go for one reason or another. I was one; my D is another.
I applied to Brown back in the dark ages, got in, and attended. My other options were not other Ivys, though. They were highly competitive LACs.
I liked the vibe at Brown and loved the setting and open curriculum. I had taken courses at MIT prior to enrollment, and had friends at Harvard, but it didn't do anything for me. I hated Princeton, and while I really liked Yale, New Haven sucks IMHO.
Clearly, I'm biased, but Brown isn't looking for HYP rejects. They go to Tufts. jk
This isn't my opinion solely, though - it is backed up by a survey of data
This I isn't
I don't think Brown really cares all that much about demonstrated interest; it cares about fit. To the extent that you have "demonstrated interest," you have shown that you have made yourself aware of the unique features of Brown and are still extremely interested.
But there are other ways to show this fit -- through your essays and your choices in high school. My son ironically didn't know all that much about Brown when he first applied -- he was finishing high school in 3 years and was swapped with work or other obligations 7 days a week. He knew that Brown had very smart peers, a top-20 computer science program and a highly respected applied math program.
Yet his essays and his high school record absolutely screamed "Brown!" He worked closely with his counselor to bypass official prerequisites and to get approval for outside college and online classes to graduate early. He designed his own community service project from scratch. He wrote about the "prestige" #1 ranked high school he didn't attend, in lieu of the top-10 alternative that was willing to work with him to customize his curriculum. Absolutely everything said "I don't need or want my hand held, and I don't give two hoots about prestige, I care about flexibility" -- and what could have been a better fit for him than Brown?
He did visit Brown in the weeks after his acceptance and before making his final decision. His mind was pretty much made up in the first 15 minutes of the presentation, when Brown opened with a set of movie and TV clips that mocked the school. He hates pompousness and loves quirky humor, so this was clearly a place for him. Later, he wandered off from the official presentation with a couple other students to view the science or engineering building. Quickly, they ran into a couple of professors, and he figured he'd get told to get back to his presentation group. But no! Instead these professors unlocked doors so the trio could look around at all the "cool stuff' hidden away. That sealed the deal. Absolutely. This was home.
There are plenty of students who absolutely love Brown (wish I could like your post LoremIpsum!) and don't apply ED. It may because they have to compare financial aid packages, don't figure out the fit until later in senior year due to hearing more,( or in my student's case revisiting Harvard and Brown a second time and figuring out that Brown was much preferable), or they are just procrastinators! In any event, Brown is looking for that fit in both ways, interest and will you fit well. Applying ED counts less than other indications of that fit.
PS hint for current applicants: If you want to go to Brown, please do some research before your interview! It gets discouraging to spend a lot of the interview educating the applicant re simple things about the school. (Like there is no undergraduate "business major". Okay maybe that is just semantics, and I tell them they might like to look at the econ concentration, but you get the idea.) I give a lot allowance for the poor quality of some HS guidance counseling, but there is the internet!
That makes it sound like you hate my post, but wish you didn't.
On a more serious note, do you, as an interviewer, make special note of those students who don't know much of anything about Brown at the time they are interviewed? I would think that Brown, with its special niche, would be eager to weed out candidates who think they are really HYP material and are only only applying to Brown as a "safety school."