THE COLLEGE’S ADMISSION DECISION
A well done and thoughtfully presented application is crucial to the admission process. Admissions officers can tell when a student has spent time on the application. This sends a signal that the student is truly interested in their college/university. Although all colleges may vary in how they review applications for most schools the following criteria will be essential in their decision.
Rigor of High School Curriculum
Colleges will look closely at the courses you have chosen to take across your four years of high school. Admission officers want to see you challenging yourself within your high school curriculum, which means taking advantage of advanced courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) and honor courses. Most colleges will want you to take 4-5 solid academic courses each year. Most school require at least two years of a foreign language, however, it is more important to continue in the same foreign language beyond the first two years if your high school offers more. In addition, it is important to continue taking math and science throughout your four years of high school. Don’t believe the myth that you can slack off your senior year. College admission officers will pay particular attention to the courses you have chose to take as a senior. Colleges may interpret a weak senior schedule as a lack of interest or motivation, so continue to work hard your senior year.
Performance in High School
Admission officers will pay close attention to the actual grades you have made in your course work throughout your four years in high school. They will notice both upward and downward trends in your grades, as well as consistent performance. In some cases a college may recalculate your GPA based solely on your academic course work. The combination of the rigor of your high school curriculum and your performance in your course work is one of the best predictors of how well you will succeed in college course work.
Most colleges will require that you submit at least one essay as a part of the application. The essay will be examined closely to see if you have solid technical writing skills. In addition, they will look closely at content and hope that they will learn something about you that has not been revealed in other parts of your application. Thus, it is important to spend time and thought on your college admission essays. At the point of applying to colleges, it is the one thing you have total control over and a well written essay can make a difference in your application. There is no magic for college essays. Make sure that you read the instructions to see if the college gives a page length or word count. If no length is specified essays need not to be more than two pages.
Your Contributions to your Home, School, and Community
Most colleges will ask that you list the activities, jobs, and special programs which you have been involved. They are usually looking beyond simply the breadth of your activity to determine the depth of commitment that you have to your activities. It is much more important to be committed and involved, serving as leader and receiving recognition in several activities, than to simply join numerous activities and approach them in a half-hearted manner. In addition, admission officers will closely examine your recommendations from teachers and others who know you will to gain further insights on how you have made an impact inside and outside classroom.
Your Standardized Test Scores
Most colleges require that you submit either SAT I or ACT. In some cases, you may be required to submit SAT II scores. You need to check with college/universities to which you are applying to determine their exact standardized test requirements. While standardized test scores play a role in the admission process because they give admission officers a standard by which you can be compared with students from very different high schools from across the US and world, remember that they do not have data on motivation, self-discipline, concern for others, sense of humor and all qualities of mind and heart that are extremely important when a college is selecting a first year class.
The best preparation for standardized tests is consistent work in academic courses. Reading is essential to the preparation for the tests because they all emphasize skills such as vocabulary and reading comprehension. Understanding and being familiar with what the test looks like and what types of questions may be asked can be also be important.
Other Admission Selection Criteria
The following may also be considered when admission decision is made.
· The impact that a student may have on an area of the college such as athletics or music.
· Family ties to the college/university.
· Early Decision or Regular Decision: student’s degree of expressed interest.
· Whether or not the application deadline was met by the student.
· The overall appearance of the complete application.