With thousands of degree-granting institutions across the country, you’d think getting into a college or university would be easy. But with millions of high school graduates applying every year, competition can be tough, especially in top-rated schools.
According to the 2018 State of College Admission report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, colleges accept just almost two-thirds of applicants. This means for every 100 hopefuls, there are about 33 who won’t get into the school they applied for.
This begs the question: what do colleges and universities look for in a student and their application?
While specifics vary per institution, colleges and universities share common factors that they refer to when considering potential students’ applications. We share what some of these are below.
1. Grade point average
If you want to get into a good college or university, your goal from your very first year in high school is to achieve the best grades you can.
Educational institutions are more likely to invest in students whose high school grades were consistently good, especially in college prep courses. These grades are a great indicator of success in college.
2. Scores on standardized tests
Plenty of colleges and universities require a record of an applicant’s SAT or ACT scores. These scores offer an objective look into your potential for success in college.
Apart from college readiness, though, your standardized test scores can also be used to qualify you for certain scholarships.
3. Extracurricular activities
Colleges and universities want to welcome students who study hard, but they also want well-rounded people. This is why extracurricular activities are one of the main factors admission officers look for in applicants.
Of course, you don’t have to join every club in high school. But if you have well-chosen extracurricular activities, say taking piano lessons if you’re pursuing music or the school publication if you’re pursuing journalism, you will have a higher chance of getting into the university and program you want.
4. Recommendation letters
If you have high school teachers who have seen your potential or who you’ve worked with on important projects, you can ask them to write a recommendation letter for you. Recommendation letters act as solid support for your application by a professional affirming your best qualities.
5. College essay
Not all colleges and universities require you to write an essay, but most do. College essays remain one of the most important parts of your application because they reveal to admission officers plenty of things about you.
For one, it can show what kind of person you are. If well-written, it can tell the institution you’re applying to exactly why you belong and be an asset for the school. For another, a well-written college essay can convey your passion for your chosen program.
Getting a college degree and beyond opens a world of possibilities for your future career, so it’s best to go in prepared. Keep these important factors in mind do thorough research on your dream school so you can create a solid application when the time comes.