What Colleges Look For In Applicants

Planning for college can be daunting to say the least. But if you start preparing early, hopefully you’ll be able to put yourself ahead of the game and ensure you’ve done all you could to make sure you’re absolutely ready for college. You can start preparing for your college career in high school.

Colleges look for different things in prospective students. The following are just a few things they hope to see in applicants.

Grade point average

I remember the days when I would bring home my elementary school progress reports and report cards and hope to make my mom proud. Heck, my dad still asks every now and then how my college classes are going. But in all honesty, it’s extremely important to buckle down and take your grades seriously — especially in high school.

Make sure to stay on top of your classes and study hard for those exams. The hard work you put into your high school grades is sure to pay off. If you’re struggling in a class, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a fellow classmate or better yet, your teacher.

If you feel as though the classes you’re in are a little too easy, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You can do this by taking college preparatory or advanced placement (AP) classes. These classes will definitely help you prepare just that much more for college. Plus, AP classes also prepare you for the AP exam for the class subject matter. Depending on the score you get on the AP exam, you could even receive college credit.

I was able to get out of taking a few college courses because I took AP exams in high school. But even besides the college credit, those classes helped me prepare for college classes in general.

Community service hours

Colleges like to see that you care about your surrounding community. Whether you decide to volunteer at a rest home, help a local charity or tutor at your school — volunteer! It’s great to be able to help others and make a difference in your own local community.

Standardized test scores

While it may not come as a surprise, standardized tests are an important aspect in getting into college. Make sure to prepare for these tests whether it be for the SAT, the ACT or both. You may even need to take an SAT Subject Test or two, depending on what certain colleges require.

I admit that I’m not the best test taker as far as standardized tests go, so I made sure to prepare early. A good way to prepare for the SAT is by taking the PSAT. Once you take the SAT and get your score back, you even have the opportunity to take the test again to better your first score.

Yes, standardized testing may not be fun to take or study for, but I assure you it’s worth preparing for. Make sure you take standardized testing seriously!

Extracurricular activities

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to pay attention in class and get good grades, but colleges also look to see that applicants have interests outside of a classroom. Maybe you enjoyed playing soccer or basketball in high school, or perhaps you were a dancer or cheerleader — that’s great! Academics are extremely important but extracurriculars are pretty important too. Whatever your extracurricular activity, keep at it!

Waiting for your college acceptance letters is no doubt nerve wrecking but you can help ease these nerves if you prepare properly and pay close attention to what colleges are looking for in applicants. Good luck!

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Kassi Luja

Kassi Luja

Kassi Luja is a junior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo pursuing a degree in journalism with a concentration in news-editorial. At school, she can often be found in the Mustang Daily newsroom where she works as a copy editor. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, listening to music and spending time with family and friends.
Kassi Luja

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