6 Things College Admissions Officers Are Really Looking for in College Applicants

As you contemplate your fall college applications this sunny summer at the beach, you are probably wondering what kinds of things could give you a “leg up” in the admissions process. Below is a generally accepted list of what admissions officers are really looking for:

  1. Strength of coursework – Admissions officers want students who challenge themselves.
  2. Grades – Not only do admissions officers want students who challenge themselves, but they also want students who do well in challenging courses. A low grade in a course doesn’t mean you are dumb; it just means you haven’t mastered a subject yet. If you think you need extra, individual help, hire a tutor.
  3. Standardized test scores – Admissions officers need a way to level the playing field. An “A” in one school doesn’t necessarily correspond to an “A” in another school. The easiest way for admissions officers to compare students from different schools is to look at standardized test scores. Fortunately, with preparation, almost anyone can improve his or her standardized test scores.
  4. Extra-curricular activities – Admissions officers aren’t looking for a laundry list of activities that you’ve tried; they like to see dedication to one or two activities where you’ve excelled or taken a leadership role.
  5. Essays – Admissions officers don’t want to see boring essays, so keep them interesting. Take the time to proofread your essays because admissions officers are starting to understand that first-rate writing skills greatly correlate to college success.
  6. Interviews – Admissions officers want to know that you have a genuine interest in their institution. The interview will give you the chance to connect with the officer on a personal level. Remember, people tend to gravitate to others like themselves.

Keep these in mind when you’re applying, and good luck!


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