What strengths & experiences are colleges looking for?

Students and families invest hours of time and a great deal of money in a college education. If you are on this road now, or maybe just beginning the journey, wouldn't you like to know what college admissions boards are looking for in high school applicants?

According to a nationwide survey of IECA member of Independent Educational Consultants, who work with students and families on various stages of the college admissions process, as well as with university admissions counselors and deans, there are many factors that can influence whether a student is accepted at a particular school. The following is a ranked list of reported findings on a nationwide survey.

It is important to understand the significance of each element, but also know that a weakness in a single element does not necessarily spell disaster. For example, if your student does not do well on standardized tests, but knocks everything else out of the park, there may be some limitations on the colleges he will be accepted to, but he can use his strengths to his advantage. In another example, perhaps a student has a job to help with the family income, and doesn't get involved in clubs and sports. The student can address her work experience on the application and emphasize her willingness to serve her family.

Knowing what college boards and universities are looking for will help you and your child as you navigate the college application process!

Strengths & Experiences Colleges are looking for (ranked by importance):

1. Rigorous High School Curriculum

2. Grades that represent and upward trend

3. Solid Standardized Test Scores (ACT/SAT)

4. A well-written application essay

5. Passionate involvement in a a few activities

6. Demonstrated leadership in Extra-curricular activities

7. Personal characteristics that add to the diversity of a campus

8. Intellectual curiosity

9. Enthusiasm to attend college

10. Letters of recommendation that give evidence of integrity and interest in learning

11. Special talents that would add to campus life

12. Meaningful out-of-school experiences

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