What Colleges Want To See On Your Admissions Application

Comments Off on What Colleges Want To See On Your Admissions Application 07 July 2014


Trying to figure out what colleges are looking for in a prospective student can feel maddening, especially when you’re busy filling out tons of applications. But don’t stress out too much, there are actually a few things that admissions officers all over the country agree are important factors to gaining admission. Here is a list of several things your favorite colleges are looking for:

Grades – Your transcript lists every class you’ve taken in high school along with the grades you earned. Colleges not only want to see strong grades though! They are also checking to see if you’ve filled your schedules with challenging classes, or if you cruised through easy options.

Tests – You know a test is important if it’s an acronym. SAT and ACT tests are the big two  most colleges look for. Because different colleges prefer different tests, you should plan on taking both of them.

AP and Honors – For more selective colleges, AP or college prep classes are extremely important. If your high school doesn’t offer many of these advanced options, talk to your guidance counselor about which available classes are the most challenging.

Personal Essay – Nearly every college application asks you to submit an essay. Most applications give you a few different prompts for their essay requirement. The essay is your chance to show the college your unique personality, including why you want to attend that college. A strong essay can be the deciding factor in your acceptance.

Extracurricular Activity – How you spend your time outside of school demonstrates your values.  No matter what you do after class, (athletics, dance, drama, or community service) colleges are looking at how long you’ve committed to your passions, and how you’ve grown because of them.

Personal Interest – Enthusiasm counts for a lot. Whether you schedule a campus visit, attend a fly-in program, or make a phone call to the school, show the admissions department that you want to spend time there.

Special Talents – Is there a skill you have that makes you stand out? Are you a musician, a painter, or a writer? Like the personal essay, a talent can set you apart from other candidates and emphasize your uniqueness.

Letters of Recommendation – Many colleges ask that you submit letters from your teachers, mentors, or coaches to vouch for your amazing-ness. These letters serve as a testimony to all of the other great things in your application, and give the admissions officers more evidence of your accomplishments throughout high school.

Class Rank – This is a number on your transcript that shows where you place among your senior class, and is based on your GPA. The better your grades, the better your rank. While colleges are starting to take less stock in class rank, it doesn’t hurt to have a good one!

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