What colleges want to see in students

Story by Olivia Morgan

Are you applying for college? There are some certain things that colleges look for that can help your chances of being accepted. Colleges look for things besides just good grades.

Of course, grades are very important, because colleges want successful students on campus, but they mostly want well-rounded people. Most, if not all schools want people who are involved in extracurricular activities such as clubs on campus, clubs off campus, or other activities that show you are well rounded. Being in extracurriculars also shows schools that you have good time-management skills. Keep in mind however, that you should not just join a bunch of clubs to fill up your resume, pick a few things that you believe you will enjoy and can excel at.

Another thing that colleges look for is a challenging schedule in high school. “In a scenario where a college has to pick between a person who took generally easy classes and got perfect grades, and a person who took advanced classes but got okay grades, they are more likely to pick the student with the average grades. Colleges like to see a student who’s willing to take on a challenge rather than play it safe.” Says Placer High Counselor Carol Koons.

An obvious factor in being accepted, are solid test scores. Colleges will obviously want students who do well on tests, since they provide an overall summary of how a student is doing in school. “Schools mostly look at the most important tests like the SAT and the ACT.” Koons says.

Colleges like students who show commitment outside of school. Volunteering at an animal shelter or homeless shelter will show that you care about your community and about the greater good. A steady job outside of school shows that you accept responsibility in your young adult life which shows that you will most likely be successful in future jobs after college.

Colleges can go on just your resume, but for extra safety, well written application essays will really help your chances of being accepted. Colleges like to hear directly from the student themselves than just from a resume. It shows a personal side of you that will make the colleges get to know you and therefore, want you at their school.

Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors show that other people see your potential and skills and are willing to vouch for your abilities. Getting a second opinion of you from another source is a good way to show that important people (i.e. teachers and counselors) recognize the reasons of why you should go to that school.

Most likely the most important thing that colleges see is that you STAND OUT. If a student excels in art or music, they are more likely to be accepted to a school that focuses on art and music. “Standing out mostly matters at the more competitive schools.” Says Koons. “Since bigger schools get more applicants, the competition is tougher than it would be at a smaller school.” Being exceptional makes you stand out from the other applicants, therefore giving you an edge on the competition and upping your chances of getting accepted.