What are colleges looking for in prospective freshmen?January 8th, 2014 by admin.capstone
What are colleges looking for in prospective freshmen?
There’s no magic formula for getting accepted into the college of your choice.
Believe me, I wish there were. It would make my job easier, and it would make the students I work with much less stressed. Nobody likes rejection, and everybody wants to get into their first-choice school.
The fact is, every school makes decisions a little differently. Some put more weight on grades; some care more about test scores; a few are especially swayed by strong essays or a really unusual community service achievement. And yes, each school can change criteria slightly from year to year.
So I like to encourage students to excel where they can, but also to be well-rounded.
The Independent Educational Consultants Association, of which I am a member, has developed a list of the top qualities colleges look for when evaluating applicants. Looking at some of the key items on this list is a great way to start identifying your own strengths – and to pinpoint areas where you might apply more effort in the months and years before applications are due:
- Rigorous curriculum: Advanced courses and AP courses impress most admissions officers – as long as you can maintain good grades.
- Solid GPA, holding steady or going up throughout the high school career: Lower grades in a more rigorous program, however, will usually look better than an A average that includes a lot of “cake” classes.
- Good test scores: Perfect scores aren’t necessary, but a high GPA coupled with low-to-mid SAT scores might raise questions.
- Meaningful activities: Getting deeply involved in a few activities and taking on a leadership role or getting elected to an office is preferable to being a member of every club on campus.
- Demonstration of intellectual curiosity: Admissions officers may evaluate a student’s course schedule, reading list, activities, and essays in order to develop an overall picture of how the student views studying and learning.
- Special talents, to help build a diverse, lively student body: You’re a ventriloquist, you taught yourself how to rebuild a motorcycle engine, you teach yoga, and you speak three languages? Many colleges will be impressed.
- Excitement and interest in attending the college to which you’re applying: Colleges look favorably upon students who show enthusiasm about their particular campus by scheduling a campus visit or arranging an interview with a recruiter or an alum who lives in their hometown.
If this list looks daunting – relax. Nobody is perfect on every single aspect. Your mission is to do your personal best – and make sure you don’t underestimate your talents and skills – so that you present your best side to the admissions office.