Most people know that earning strong grades greatly increase a student’s chances of getting into their colleges of choice. But there are many other factors that also matter. And the stronger these other components are, the more leeway students will have if their GPA isn’t perfect or their test scores aren’t as high as they’d like. In no particular o
High School Transcript
It is a given that your GPA is the most important consideration that most colleges use in their decisions on whom to accept. But there’s more. Admissions officers actually review your entire transcript to see how much you pushed yourself. Did you take easier classes just to boost your GPA or did you challenge yourself and take some harder classes, too? Getting a B in a more challenging class instead of an A in a less-challenging one goes a long way in illustrating to colleges that you’re up for the challenge; in college all of the courses will be difficult and the last thing they (or you) want is to drop/fail out because you couldn’t handle the course load.
Developing a relationship with a teacher (preferably in a class where you excelled) enables the teacher to get a sense of who you are as a person. Participating in class, visiting the teacher before and/or after school to ask questions, sharing interesting and relevant news articles with the teacher, or simply just chatting with the teacher are all great ways to help you stick out in the teacher’s mind – and ultimately helps the teacher to write a recommendation that truly reflects your goodness and uniqueness.
While you might think that working part-time after school at the local ice cream shop isn’t a big deal but in reality, it shows the college admissions committee a number of things. First, it shows responsibility – especially if have taken on additional leadership roles in the job. Second, it illustrates how you balance your time between school and work obligations — something that you’ll want to master while in college to be successful. Finally, working after school shows colleges that you are committed to doing what is necessary – whether it be working to help support your family and/or working to help pay some of your future college tuition. Your commitment to work may also help highlight for colleges your family’s financial needs.
Do something that is completely for others. So much of the college admissions process revolves around the self – getting better grades, getting higher test scores, participating in more activities, playing more sports, and so on. But colleges also want to see that you care about people other than just yourself. So take some time and volunteer at a soup kitchen, or Head Start or with the Boy Scouts. Even better — take on a leadership role and get others involved, too. It will help your application, yes, but more importantly, it will make you a more fulfilled person.
The craziness of the entire college application process can justifiably lead some people to wish, hope or even become something they are not. Oh if I just cured cancer or hiked K2 or took 20 APs, then I would get into so and so college. Or if my family just had more money to buy me a fancy tutor and a $5,000 college counselor, and an English professor from Harvard to write my essay, then I would get in. College admissions officers read hundreds of applications each year. They know what’s real and what’s not. Just be yourself and be honest and open – and not just because admissions counselors can see through the fluff! Because truthfully, being someone else is much too great a burden to bear. You are the only YOU out there – enjoy being your best self – today and always!