That IS the question, isn’t it! How does a student qualify for admission, especially in this highly competitive market? The most selective schools have far more applicants than they have spaces so each applicant has to do more than qualify; he or she must also stand out.
Here are some of the usual criteria schools look at for admission:
• Grades – Grades for the junior year and the first semester of the senior year are very important. A student should have grades that put him or her in the top 5% to 10% of their class at a high school that compares well to other high schools in academic demands.
• Tests – SAT and or ACT scores must be comparatively high.
• Course Work – A student should have both AP and honors classes.
• Activities – Colleges are looking for high achievers and students who are involved, but quality is more important than quantity. Students should show special focus and interest in activities.
• And – Students need to show collective quality in their college interview, college essay, and from teacher recommendations.
But, here are some other factors that can weigh heavily on whether or not an applicant is admitted. Don’t lose sight of these things, even if they may be less obvious.
• Diversity – Schools want to have a well-rounded student body. They will consider applicants from different parts of the country, of different ethnic backgrounds, and with a different socio-economic status than the majority of their students. Sometimes it is best for an applicant to apply to schools out of the box, away from home, and where their friends are not flocking.
• Legacy – If your parents or relatives or if other students from your high school have gone to a school successfully, that counts.
• Overcoming Adversity – Schools are not into responding to a whiner, but they are very interested in strong candidates who have proved they get up and fight again or continuously make the effort to go where they are headed.
• Leadership – Schools want students who are not just involved but who have initiative. If you have held a leadership position in an activity or started a drive or spear-headed a volunteer effort, you will look good.
• Curiosity – If you have pursued different avenues in order to learn, schools want you. Maybe you have read deeply, followed a mentor, or done individual projects.
• Maturity – If you are someone who has thought about your college fit, about what and why you want a certain career, and can comment on your world and world events intelligently, you have set yourself apart from applicants who simply like the sound of a school, or want to make a good living, or only know about what they see in the headlines.
Another major factor in gaining admission to a colleges is knowing about that college. Colleges want students who are likely to attend more than they want only the brightest and the best. You are half way there if you visit the college with an eye for the details that fit for you and know what the college offers you in particular.
Good luck with all that!