What Do Colleges Look For?

What do colleges look for in students when applying to college? Well, they are looking for that certain student that stands out from everyone else. Are you one of them?

Colleges look for many different things during the application process.  In the world today, college preparation is tough. Many colleges and universities are raising the bar with their admissions standards because they can afford to select more accomplished students due to the large volume of applications.

Unfortunately not all students get into the school of their choice, but will most likely be able to get into another. So, what do colleges look for? It all comes down to the following factors.

1. Grades:

Grades are a huge factor when it comes to college admissions. Higher grades show off the effort the student put into having an excellent GPA. Many colleges have a minimum GPA requirement to get into their school so it is crucial to keep your grades up throughout your high school years.

2. A Challenging Class Schedule:

Colleges want students who are willing to challenge themselves. They want to accept students who work hard and push themselves to the limit. Try taking more advanced courses, like honors or advanced placement coures if you can handle it. This is just another way to stand out from the crowd.

3. Standardized Test Scores:

Scores on your SAT and/or ACT exams carry a huge amount of weight in the college admissions process. Scores should ideally be consistent with high school performance, but that’s not always the case. Most schools have the average standardized test scores of recently admitted students posted on thier website.

4. Extracurricular Activities:

Being involved in extracurricular activities is a must. This proves to college admissions officers that you are a student who can manage his or her time wisely, which is critical during college. When searching for clubs to get involved in, find activities where you can showcase leadership abilities. Colleges want to pick students who are community leaders, sports team captains, student council board members, etc.  But, don’t go overboard. Choose a few you’re interested in.

5. Work/Out of School Experiences:

Be sure to include jobs you had during high school as well as summer programs and other out-of-school activities on your college application resume. These are all ways a student can demonstrate a sense of dedication, responsibility, and personal development.

6. Application Essay:

The purpose of a college application essay is to show off who you are and what makes you, you. A strong college essay provides insight into the student’s personality, goals and values. The essay should be thoughtful and personal. Do not restate the information found on your transcript and application. You shouldn’t rush into writing your essay either. It will take time to have the perfect college admissions essay, so just keep this in mind before you start.

7. Letter(s) of Recommendation:

Admissions officers really rely on letters of recommendation to let them know how others view you as a person. Choose your recommendation letter writers wisely. This is your college education you are talking about. Feel free to branch out from the traditional recommendation letter writers like teachers and counselors, and ask your coaches or work supervisors. These individuals can also speak to your skills and abilities.

8. Other Factors:

Other factors could be honors, awards, evidence of other talents and experiences, as well as anything else that makes the student unique.

Another couple factors you would probably have never guesssed are geographic diversity and age. Many colleges value the diversity a nontraditional student can bring to the table. Schools may find that an older student’s life experiences often enrich classroom discussions.

So, what are colleges looking for? Overall, they’re seeking students who will be active contributing members of the student body and are well-rounded. So having a good mixture of the above-mentioned factors will help you in the college admissions process.

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Cayla Gorsh

Cayla Gorsh

Cayla Gorsh is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism with a minor in English. She transferred to the University of Iowa from Scott Community College in Bettendorf Iowa. Outside of school she loves to exercise and stay fit. She is also a huge book nerd and loves to read. She also loves to cook and of course spend time with friends and family.
Cayla Gorsh

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