Factors of College Admission or How to Get Into Your Dream School
As college deadlines loom in the not too distant future, you might be asking yourself, “Can I get into college?” To answer your question, My College Guide will clue you in on the factors of college admissions! While these factors can differ a bit from college to college, having some idea of what colleges are really looking for in your academic background can go a long way to make sure you are prepared so that when you get ready to actually submit a college application: you’ll be ready!
SAT or ACT Test Scores
The majority of colleges will be looking at your SAT or ACT test scores, comparing your score to other applicants. If you’ve only taken the test once, know that taking the test a second time can help improve your SAT score – just from knowing what to expect! The College Board SAT test and the ACT test are very important and, if you are homeschooled, it’s also a way for colleges to measure you academically.
Do you match up? While not usually mandatory, the college interview is used by some colleges as a way to make sure that you are the right fit for their institution. On the upside, an interview can put a nice personal spin on what can seem a very impersonal process. You can let college admissions meet your charming, wonderful self and explain any slip-ups in your record. If it’s optional at the college(s) you are interested in, why not request one?
Are you a valuable member of your community? Community service can help you stand apart from other college applicants – it’s not like every student volunteers their time and energy, but for the most part, many students do take the SAT, have a decent GPA, and class ranking. Not only is it a great way to get accepted into college and help out your community, but it could even net you a great scholarship!
This seemingly innocent little open-ended question can be a hard one to answer. The truth is, college admissions can place a good amount of emphasis on what you have to say – and how you say it! Use this space as a way to explain why your grades fell your Sophomore year or how you successfully handled a difficult situation. If colleges are on the fence about whether or not to let you in, your college essay may give them a nudge in the right direction.
Are you a future leader? Did you skim through high school or did you leave a mark?Universities want independent, motivated students. They will be actively seeking students with leadership roles on their college application. Holding positions in high school clubs or as a class officer can show admissions that you are just the type of person they are looking for.
Letters of Recommendation
Colleges like to get a second opinion – and the college letter of recommendation is an easy way for them to learn more about you through the eyes of someone else. Whether your college of choice lets you choose who writes your recommendation or there’s someone specific, colleges will takes these letters under consideration so if the choice is up to you, choose carefully!
Your race, the state you live in, your gender, and national origin can play a part in college admission. Colleges like to say that they have students not only from around the country, but from around the world, too. Increasing their student body while diversifying it can help pave the way for you if you happen to possess the traits of the missing pieces.
While it’s okay to have a fluff class every now and again to boost your GPA, colleges really want to see something more challenging than a constant run of classes like Film Studies or Fibers on your course schedule. Honors classes and AP classes go a long way to prove to college admissions that you take your education seriously – just don’t take on more than you can handle. These classes dole out more work to start with and receiving poor marks in a few of them because you packed your schedule too full with difficult classes won’t help you get into your dream school, either.
Did your mom and/or dad attend the same college that you are interested in? Many colleges like to keep the legacy going and put special emphasis on legacy applicants! Applications will usually have a spot to check or write that you had a family member attend their college – which may help you get in! Bonus: many colleges also let you apply for a legacy scholarship!
It almost goes without saying, but your grades are one of the key factors of college admission! Colleges have a GPA range they accept for a reason: they want students who fit within specific parameters. The more competitive the college, the better your GPA had better be! If you’ve got a few years before you are officially thinking “college” make sure to use this time wisely and try to keep those grades up.
Awards and Achievements
Do you have a stack of blue ribbons and grand champion ribbons from your time spent in 4-H? Did you win special recognition at your high school for an academic achievement or snag a certificate for club involvement? Not every students wins an award, so don’t just let them sit there and collect dust, write it down! Make sure that college admissions knows about your past successes. After all, if you don’t tell them, who will?
Colleges are looking for activities where you were meaningfully involved, not a jam-packed, alphabetized list of random clubs and organizations you joined only to impress college admissions! In this case, think “quality” not quantity! So, pick and choose your high school extracurricular activities with care and do more with it than just sign up.
Pre-college Summer Programs
More school? In the summer? Yes and yes! Don’t just think of a pre-college summer program as school, think of it as a way to do a little traveling or community service or to dig into something you are interested in, as well as earning college credit in high school and standing out to college admissions! Anything that you can do to be proactive in your education (and pre-college summer programs certainly count!) is a step in the right college acceptance direction.