What Colleges Are Looking For
College admission committees evaluate
a variety of things – more than you might think. You
may be surprised to learn what is most important in their
High School Record: A student’s academic
record is the single most important factor in a college’s
decision to accept or deny an application. Many colleges
will value higher-level courses – like honors, Advance
Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate
(IB) – because of the more rigorous preparation
that comes with them. B’s in higher-level courses
may be considered more highly than A’s in regular courses.
Tests: These tests are the second most important
factor in most colleges’ admission decisions.
The two college entrance tests are the SAT
and the ACT.
Most colleges accept the results of either exam,
but check the admission application to see if the
college has a preference. Also, it is recommended
the student take the test in the spring of the junior
year, then again as a senior. Most colleges use
the best scores on the various sections of the test
to give the student every benefit, so there
is nothing to lose by retesting.
colleges require at least a counselor’s recommendation.
Some may ask for recommendations from teachers or others
who know you. Make sure that any person you pick to
write a recommendation will be supportive of you. For
a teacher recommendation, get one from someone who
teaches a college prep class (English, math, etc.)
or a class that relates directly to your job or career
||Essays: Not all colleges
require an essay or personal statement for admission
or scholarship consideration, but for those that do,
take them seriously. Essays should reflect who you
really are, not what you think the committee wants to
||High School Activities:
Colleges want to know what students do with their free
time, which may include working in addition to other activities. Individual activities
may reveal a student’s special talents or experience,
any of which may be important to a college when it comes
to admission and/or scholarship consideration.
||Interviews: Most colleges
make admission interviews optional, but some use the interview
as a factor in selecting students. Find out if it counts
in the admission process. If it does count (but is not required), think about
how well you will come across in an interview situation
before you decide to have one. Send a thank you note to
the person who did your interview to show your gratitude
and register your continuing interest.
||Student’s Demonstrated Interest:
A number of colleges keep track of who has visited the
campus or made other special efforts to show their interest.
They want to get the most out of their offers of admission,
so they are looking for the best candidates who also are
most interested in them.
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- Take the best overall schedule you are capable of handling, including a strong academic course load senior year.
- Take the SAT and/or ACT in the spring of the junior year and retake the test(s) as a senior to improve your scores.
- Get your teacher recommendation from someone who teaches a college prep class. Always be sure the people that you ask can be supportive of you.
- Give yourself sufficient time to write a well thought out essay, and plan on doing several drafts.
- Keep track of all your extracurricular activities and list them, along with special positions you held and honors you received, on your application.
- Find out if an interview is required and thoroughly prepare beforehand if you plan to have one.
- If you are really interested in a school, make that known. Talk to, and work with, the college(s) you would really like to attend.