Better Understanding How Colleges Make Their Admission Choices

Going through the process of trying to get into college is hard. It can take a toll on students when they are trying to get into their first choice college and all their future dreams are at stake.

It helps to have all the information about the process you can to make it less stressful and make your application more likely to be successful.

It is true that institutions give a higher priority to students with the best grades who have also followed the necessary formalities for the admission process. But there is a part they play in the final decision. The process for each college is transparent and fair to ensure the most deserving get in.

Looking more closely at the process

Since people are involved in the process, while it is meant to be a fair one this does not mean it is completely objective. There are some things you can do to affect the outcome, but there are aspects of it that are not in your control. Your application and the essay you submit are carefully considered by a panel in admissions to determine whether they meet the requirements they have.

Then the merits you have, grades, scores, past university and college data points as well as individual aspects are looked at. Your geographic location also plays a role in their decision. There is no need to get anxious about the process while you wait to hear. You could be waiting anywhere from four to six weeks and in some cases, it might be more.

Admissions consider the following factors

According to a report by the NACAC, National Association for College Admission Counselling, some of the main factors taken into account are the student’s GPA from high school, grades they have achieved from other placements or college prep courses as well as how difficult the curriculum is they want to study. In more broad terms the prime factors when evaluating an application are as follows;

  • Academic achievement – As mentioned this includes a range of things if you are more than just a recent graduate. Your past marks and grades at school but also any other courses you might have undertaken, any scores from advanced placements as well as test scores.
  • Club and extracurricular participation – One of the big things they look at is what kind of clubs you have joined, what leadership traits you have shown, and what passions you have explored in the form of extracurricular activities. It is a good way they can judge your drive, your personality and gives them an idea of who you are, past just the coursework and grades.
  • Character and personality – As well as using your clubs and other activities as a way to judge your personality they will also consider things like what you could contribute to the campus, the essay will be a big part of considering characteristics. Admissions will be looking for students who show themselves to be both curious and active.

With such things being also a part of the process it is important not to just work on your grades but also to consider what other preparations you can make in the years before you apply to university or college. You want to avoid being in the pile just like every other applicant.

What else a college might prioritise

It is not an easy process choosing students, especially when so many are straight from high school or college and there is not much that sets them apart.  You need to consider how to make yourself stand out.

  1. They are not just looking for excellent grades, they are also looking for winning personalities too. They want students who are interesting and diverse and talented to make their institution better for having them.
  2. While you can do certain things like join clubs and such, you will not be the only ones who do and a lot of it is not in the control of the student or their parents.
  3. There is a balance they want to keep between students that are from the same state and students that are from other states.
  4. Some colleges focus on having a mix of different backgrounds, economic and social, but some focus on maintaining similar backgrounds with all their students. That will depend on the college you have applied to. Some are more focused on things like racial diversity.
  5. Certain spots are kept for students who excel at a sport, or in art, or music and such.
  6. While most would not claim it, there are some colleges that still select based on how rich the students and their parents are.
  7. There is often a focus on making sure the balance of female and male is maintained as much as possible.

Things to keep in mind if you do not get into your preferred college

It is important to keep in mind that if your first choice does not make an offer to you this is not the end of everything though it can feel like a major hurdle. It is also not always the end of the matter, and if it is there are other options. Being denied is not a reflection on you, it does not mean you are not good enough, or that you have no value or that your grades have no value.

There are a number of things that might have led to this decision. Most have a process you can go through to appeal it if you choose to. There are other good colleges and your future is not bleak!

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