College Admission Process

College Admission Process Back

Admission officers from colleges and universities are charged with the responsibility of selecting students who will meet the challenges of the college classroom while contributing positively to the academic, cultural and social climate of the institution. Different institutions place different emphasis on the criteria, but the vast majority of colleges consider all or most of the following factors:

  1. Achievement in high school: A strong academic record in challenging college preparatory courses will be the factor most likely to influence the college admission decision. The high school grade-point average accumulated during grades nine through twelve will be viewed in light of the difficulty of the courses listed on the transcript. Colleges feel that academic success at the high school level is the single most accurate predictor of college success.
  2. SAT, ACT and related test scores: For the most part, standardized tests alone are not likely to result in either an acceptance or a rejection. Admission officers usually view the standardized test score as a "snapshot" of the more complete person. One exception is that large some universities and some other decision-making groups (scholarships, NCAA eligibility) may use a low standardized test score to eliminate an application from consideration or from initial eligibility. Test scores may also be used for class placement during the first year of school.
  3. Extracurricular activities, including work: These experiences present a picture of the student outside of the classroom that is very important to the college admission staff. Involvement in extracurricular activities and/or outside employment provides an insight into the student’s work ethic.
  4. Teacher and Counselor recommendations: These firsthand observations by educators who have worked closely with the student go a long way in emphasizing the student’s abilities, aptitudes and character. They also allow the writer an opportunity to humanize the applicant and provide information that may not be available otherwise.
  5. The Essay: Colleges that require an essay or a writing sample consider this creative work to be an important ingredient in the admission decision. Strong admission essays result from careful planning and allowing adequate time for writing and editing.
  6. Interview: Some colleges require or recommend a personal interview. The admission staff member (or alumni representative) conducting the interview will prepare an official reaction to the interview that will become part of the student’s admission package. A successful interview may demonstrate a genuine interest in the particular school and provide a most accurate portrayal of the student.
  7. Special Talents: A special talent (artistic, athletic, musical, etc) or a special characteristic (legacy, demographics, etc.) can be an enhancing piece of the overall application. It is critical for students with special talents or characteristics to make these well known before, during and after the formal application is filed.
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