Admissions office typically have a score sheet for their applicants. In this score sheet, they have different criteria to weigh student applications. Now, it’s important to bear in mind that colleges might not have the same scoring system. Some of these criteria may be weighed more heavily while some of these criteria might not be weighed at all in some places. However, it’s still helpful to take a look at the criteria in order to get some form of an idea as to how they evaluate your application.
First generation – If you’re a first generation college student, this will help your application. Make sure you also talk to your guidance counselor about it because you can get a fee waiver for your application.
Diversity – They evaluate whether you’re multilingual as well as your ethnic and/or religious background.
Your high school – Colleges are looking to get as many different schools as possible to be represented at their college. Also, some schools just have a better academic performance than other schools and the GPAs are readjusted in that sense.
Legacy – If you’re a legacy applicant (someone in your family graduated from the school), they may also weigh your application more favorably.
Demonstrated interest – How high is this school on your list? If you’re very interested in the school, your application could score a few more points. To measure this, they keep track of how many times you visited the college for tours and whether you did an interview at this college.
Academics – Obviously, higher grades will help you get into college. This includes also includes honors and AP courses.
Standardized tests – If you’re like me, you hate standardized tests. Unfortunately, most schools require either a SAT or ACT score. Some schools have an additional SAT/ACT-optional where instead, you’ll submit a written paper from a class.
Extracurriculars – How involved you are in an extracurricular as well as the diversity of your extracurriculars could be considered. This includes which clubs you are part of. For example, this could include community service, sports, student council, hobbies, etc.
The main takeaway from this is that they want to see what you can offer to the college. In a lot of cases, they’re trying to cover as many bases as possible with their recruiting class. Compare this to a college wrestling coach. If a wrestling program has five wrestlers at 125 but zero wrestlers at 197, who do you think they’re more interested in recruiting? They’re happy to get an extra 125 in the room, but they’ll really push to get the big man a scholarship, right? Same goes for the college application process as a whole. If you’re an uncommon individual and your application shows that, your chances of getting into college will be higher.
Here’s another way to look at it: the more takedowns you can score in a match (doesn’t matter if it’s the same takedown), the higher the chances of you winning that match. The more criteria you can satisfy, the higher the likelihood of you getting accepted into that college. Make sense?
In all fairness, there is no right answer to this because colleges are constantly changing. Your best bet is to just be honest and go with what you truly are interested in. Make sure you truly represent who you are as a person and you won’t be disappointed.
Always try to answer the question, “What do I have to offer this college?” Once you get your acceptance letters in the mail, you’ll be able to ask yourself, “What does this college have to offer me?”