Top 12 Elements to Competitive Admissions Applications

A Rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and may include AP or IB classes.

Grades that represent a strong effort and an upward trend.  However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are preferred to all A’s in less challenging courses.

Solid scores on SAT tests.  These should be consistent with high school performance.

A well written essay that provides insight into the student’s unique personally, values, and goals.  It should be thoughtful and highly personal.  It should demonstrate careful and well-constructed writing.

Passionate involvement in a few in or out of school activities.  Commitment and depth are valued over minimal involvement in a large number of activities.

Demonstrated leadership and initiative in extra-curricular activities.  Students who show up on campus ready to lead clubs and activities are highly desirable.

Characteristics that will contribute to a diverse and interesting student body.  Many colleges seek to develop a freshman class that is diverse geographically, culturally, ethnically, economically and politically.

Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school, leisure pursuits and more.

Demonstrated enthusiasm to attend, often exhibited by campus visits and an interview, showing an interest in attending the college if offered admission.

Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors that give evidence of integrity, special skills, positive character traits and an interest in learning.

Special talents that will contribute the college’s student life program.  Colleges like to know what you will bring to the campus as well as what you will take from your experience.

Out of school experiences including work, community service, youth organizations, religious groups, etc. Again, passionate involvement is meaningful, casual membership is not.


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