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What Do Colleges Look For in College Applications?

Colleges seek students who will contribute positively to their schools and foster an active sense of community. For them to do that effectively, it’s crucial that they get an idea of who you are outside the classroom – your application provides you with this chance! You will begin with academic and extracurricular rigor as the basis of your application before adding personal touches that make your application truly representative of who you are as an individual.

An effective application can provide a valuable indicator of how well you’ll fare as a student in college. It demonstrates your organization, responsibility and willingness to put forth effort in your studies. A thoughtful essay (if required) also lets colleges know more about who you are as an individual. Finally, letters of recommendation are often included as part of the application process, usually coming from teachers/counselors, coaches for club teams/teams/organizations coaches as well as employers or volunteer organizers who know about you well enough and who can speak to both your abilities and character.

Academic performance is often the key deciding factor when applying to colleges, accounting for approximately 40% of overall evaluation. Achieve strong grades and take on rigorous coursework is proof of readiness for university level work, ability to thrive under challenging conditions, and intellectual curiosity as motivation to achieve excellence.

If you’re applying to highly selective schools, your transcript and GPA can be an important predictor of whether you will be accepted. Most competitive institutions accept grades within certain ranges; if your grades fall closer to the lower end of this range, outstanding application (and test score) are necessary in order for consideration to occur.

While many students tend to focus on their core classes/subjects when it comes to admissions review, it is wise to maintain strong performance across your transcript–including non-core classes such as physical education or music ensembles that may not carry as much weight. While their grades won’t count towards admissions review scores as much, these classes still demonstrate your dedication and hard work ethic.

Most applications also require essays or short answers on topics that vary between schools. This gives you the chance to showcase your creativity, writing skills and personal insight into why you would make an ideal addition for their campus. Be sure to proofread carefully – any sloppy mistakes could signal to admissions officers that you lack organization or maturity required for college-level work.

Extracurricular activities provide applicants with an opportunity to demonstrate their interests beyond the classroom, including long-term volunteer or internship positions, school leadership roles, creative passion projects or professional achievements. Demonstrating expertise through an academic internship or research project may particularly appeal to admissions officers.

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