Are you applying for college soon? Do you want to find out what to expect when you decide to apply? Or you probably want to find out just to get ready. Let’s look what admission officers look for in applicants. If you are a high school junior/ sophomore (9th/ 10th) as you begin planning for colleges, or even a senior (11th/ 12th) when preparing for college applications, this information is very useful for you. Not just that, if you are a parent, please read on to understand what aspects are most important for a successful college admission.
After meeting with a lot of college admission officers such as California Institute of Technology, UCLA, Harvard etc., our founder and director Shirish Gupta identified the following key pointers:
Strong SAT Scores
Most colleges and universities require the SAT or ACT as part of your application, although a few schools don’t. Admission counselors check out for scores that exceed that of their students. It is seen as the objective measure for schools that require it as it is used to measure your college potential. While researching on colleges, you can easily find the recently admitted class profile.
High GPA/Academic Score
Grades are essential elements in your college application. Colleges will ask for your official transcript from your previous school, and they might recalculate your grade points according to their internal system used for different types of courses. From your first year in high school, the goal is to get the best grades you can. If you have had tough freshman year (9th), don’t worry colleges notice the trend in grades. When your grades are not good, but they show constant improvement, the counselors will see your potential and growth.
Challenging Academic Courses
The challenge is not just getting good grades but also to get good grades in courses that are academically challenging. Most colleges tend to place a higher weight on courses that are tougher. For instance, taking Physics, Chemistry, Math with Computer Science (or any mainstream subject) will give you great advantage than taking Physical Education for an engineering college major. Further, scoring a B (80%) in Computer Science is much better than scoring A (90%) on the Physical Education course.
Rank or Top Percentage of Class Standing
Class standing and rank are moving to the back of the pack, mostly because class rank doesn’t mean anything in high schools that are extreme. Class rank has been known to hurt the best students because there is so little space for who is placed from 1-10. Strive for an excellent grade as the grade is linked with ranking, and hope the school you are applying for doesn’t have class rank as part of its criteria.
Most universities and colleges seek leaders within their applicant pool, and you will make your application stand out if you have one or more leadership position during your high school years. But a leader means more than just been a member of 10 or more organizations. A leader shows some degree of character and maturity, and also colleges are looking into their student organization and their need to groom future leaders. You don’t have to be the president, been at least an officer in a group before your senior year is essential.
Active Involvement in Community Service
There is no known requirement for community service to gain admission into colleges, but most high school volunteer throughout their local community. Students make it seem like there is an unwritten rule about it, regardless of that most people can agree on the fact that it gives value and self-fulfillment when you help others. It also looks good on your resume to prospective admission officer.
Insightful and Well-Written Essays
Most important element of your application. This is the way universities learn more about you and the reason you want to attend their school. You ought to take the time to consider all questions asked, write, edit, and proofread the essay. Writing a wonderful essay can move you from a marginal applicant to the accepted student group.
Quality Letter of Recommendations from Teachers
Recommendations written by guidance counselors or teachers play a vital role in your college application. You will have a few favorite teachers; they know your personalities, academic acumen and the quality of your work. It is good to let your teacher know about the recommendation letter early, so there will be time to write a quality letter. The teachers who are popular get asked to write more letters, which mean you have to ask earlier.
Recommendation Letters from Professionals
It is another nice touch, especially when you want to attend the college, ask a professional like your former boss to write a recommendation letter. It is a lot better if the said person has ties to the college as an alumnus or donor. You can also ask your supervisor in one of your volunteer programs or the coach of the team you played for. If you run a personal business, you can ask a favorite customer to write a letter. You can also ask a religious leader or a family friend, but personal references are not given high regard as professional ones.
Work and Entrepreneurial Experiences
While it may not be necessary to have a summer job, and a part-time job or own your business. But if you have professional experiences it will make your essay interesting as you have a lot to write about and also showing your time management skills and professionalism. College admission officers like self-starters, people who have demonstrated strong entrepreneur spirit. So confidently tell your story, it can be about your land mowing, babysitting, car detailing, painting, and tutoring. Whatever business you are into, just tell your story and make it interesting.
While this is an overview of what most colleges want or look out for in their application pool, you ought to research on the particular school you want to get specific details about the college or university. For more help, don’t hesitate to contact us.