Although every college/university is different, and large public universities may use different processes than small liberal arts colleges, clear trends have emerged about the factors that college admissions officers look for when reviewing a student’s application for admission.
- Rigorous high school curriculum
- High grade point average. Remember the rigor of the curriculum matters.
- High scores on standardized tests
- Great essay providing insight into the student’s unique personality.
- Passionate involvement in a few activities that are meaningful, inside or outside of school.
- Strong counselor/teacher recommendations that provide personalized references.
- Ability to pay
- Demonstrated leadership in or out of school
- Demographic and personal characteristics that contribute to a diverse and interesting student body
- Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, research and extracurricular pursuits.
- Special talents that contribute to campus life
- Demonstration of student’s character and values
- Demonstrated interest in attending
For more than 15 years, Independent Education Consultants Association’s (IECA) members have been asked about the criteria that they find are most important to colleges in their admission decisions. IECA surveys over the past decade have shown that the same five items have led the IECA ranking. The top three have always been the rigor of the student’s curriculum, strong grades, and high standardized test scores. The other two factors in the top five are a great personal essay and the student’s passionate involvement in a few extracurricular activities.
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