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What are colleges looking for?

It is "Application Time."  Students are filling out apps, writing and revising essays, and tracking down teachers to request letters of recommendations.  But still, the question is out there for students and parents; what are colleges looking for in college admissions?


While each college is unique in it's goals, ideals and approach to admitting students, there are some common trends that the State of College Admission Report revealed in a recent study.  Below, listed in order of significance, are the primary factors colleges take into consideration when evaluating applications and making admissions decisions.




  1. Grades in College Prep Courses

  2. Strength of Curriculum

  3. Test Scores

  4. Grades in All Courses

  5. Essays

  6. Demonstrated Interest

  7. Counselor Recommendation

  8. Class Rank

  9. Teacher Recommendation

  10. Extracurricular Activities

  11. Interviews

  12. Subject Test Scores (AP,IB)

  13. Portfolio

  14. SAT II Scores

  15. State Graduation Exam Scores

  16. Work


Success in college level coursework from early on in your high school career is a significant factor in this process.  If grades are a concern, students should seek help immediately.  An upward swing in grades can be a sign that a student has made significant improvements.  In test-taking, it is essential that students score as high as possible and that means preparing for standardized tests with test-prep books or classes.  


Overall, colleges want to admit students who are ready to take on college level academics and who have the maturity to contribute to the college environment.  These sixteen factors can usually reveal an individual's potential as a successful student. 










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