10 most important factors in selective university admission | Doing College | Elizabeth LaScala | Tech US News


One, the most common question I hear as a college counselor is some variation of “What does it take to get into a highly selective college?” Here are my picks for the top 10 factors that students should develop throughout their high school career, starting with with a solid academic foundation in elementary and high school.

1. A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and may include Honors, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate courses.

2. Grades that represent great effort and an upward trend. However, slightly lower grades in rigorous classes that the student feels passionate about take precedence over full A’s in less demanding subjects.

3. Good results on standardized tests (SAT, ACT). These results must be consistent with high school performance. An optional test does not mean a blind test. The value of submitting strong test scores varies by college.

4. Passionate involvement in multiple activities with significant time commitment covering years of collaboration. Depth is most important, not width.

5. Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselor and sometimes an external source demonstrating integrity, special skills, positive character traits and a genuine interest in learning.

6. Well-written essays that provide insight into the student’s unique personality, values, and goals. Application essays should be thoughtful and highly personal. Each essay must be carefully constructed and demonstrate mastery of proper writing.

7. Special talents and abilities. Colleges are not looking for well-rounded students, but rather to build a well-rounded incoming freshman class. Some examples are special talents in athletics, fine arts, and several foreign languages.

8. Demonstrated leadership in activities. Colleges welcome students who will arrive ready and willing to take leadership roles in campus activities and events. But leadership can take many forms, and the leadership title isn’t always critical—what matters most is the work the student does and the initiative taken.

9. Demonstrated intellectual curiosity, maturity and advanced skills developed through reading beyond the assigned curriculum, advanced coursework, research endeavors, community service, and employment. You don’t have to tick all the boxes; remember you need time to eat and sleep!

10. Evidence that the student has fully researched the faculty and knows exactly why it is the right choice for him. This is often demonstrated by the student showing continued interest in the college, visiting, interviewing, asking intelligent questions of admissions officers, and writing prominent “Why our college?” an essay.

Elizabeth LaScala PhD guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. It helps students choose majors and programs of interest, develops top college lists, offers personalized essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students navigate each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds increase their chances of receiving scholarships and financial aid awards. For more information, call (925) 385-0562 or visit Elizabeth on her website.

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