As you’re entering your junior year of high school, you may have an idea of what you’d like to study in college. Or you may just have an idea of where you’d like to attend college. Even if you’re not sure about that, you most likely are still concerned about getting accepted into a college. One of the biggest questions students ask themselves is “what do admissions officers look for in applicants?” In reality, there is no special, single item admissions officers look for. Instead, there are several areas they review together in order to seek out strong applicants.
- Academics. One of the most obvious aspects of a college application that will be under scrutiny is your academics. Specifically, admissions officers look for candidates with strong grades. Ideally, your grades should maintain or improve as you move through high school. Colleges will also look for students who challenge themselves academically and succeed, so you may want to consider taking some advanced courses. And of course, strong test scores will also help bolster your application.
- Involvement. Colleges don’t just look for smart students, though. They’re also on the lookout for students who are well-rounded and involved in more than just academics. Participation in sports, social clubs, and other activities can all help strengthen an application. Colleges will also be on the lookout for out-of-school experience. This could be volunteer work or community service, or this could even be a part-time job.
- Essay. Your essay is your opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd. The essay component of your application is your chance to convey to the admissions officers anything your grades, activities and recommendations might not portray. Your essay should be unique and well-written. Pick an interesting topic – whatever you can think of that makes you unique. Don’t be afraid to talk to family, friends or teachers for advice, review or helpful suggestions along the way.
- Recommendations. Another component of your application that can carry significant weight is the personal recommendations. These recommendations will give admissions officers an honest, third-party perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. Think about the teachers or adults in your life who will best convey your character, accomplishments, work ethic, etc.
Applying to colleges isn’t something you can really sit down and accomplish in one afternoon. Your college application is more an accumulation of your hard work and accomplishments throughout your academic career. Even if you don’t know what you want to study or what school you want to attend, you should start thinking about how to put together the strongest application you can.
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