Top Ten Things Colleges Look For In A High School Student
- A high school curriculum that challenges the student: Academically successful students should include several Honors and Advanced Placement classes.
- Grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend: Grades should show an upward trend over the years. However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are preferred to all A's in less challenging coursework.
- Solid scores on standardized tests (SAT, ACT): These should be consistent with high school performance.
- Extracurricular Activities: Students should be involved in activities that demonstrate leadership and initiative; activities should also be meaningful to the student.
- Community service showing evidence of being a "contributor." Activities should demonstrate concern for other people and a global view.
- Work or out-of-school experiences: (including summer activities) that illustrate responsibility, maturity, dedication, and development of areas of interest.
- College Essay: A well-written essay that provides insight into the student's unique personality, values, and goals. The application essay should be thoughtful and highly personal. It should demonstrate careful and well-constructed writing.
- Letters of recommendation: Students should request recommendations from teachers who respect their work in an academic discipline that will provide evidence of integrity, special skill and positive character traits.
- Supplementary recommendations: Letters from coaches or supervisors in long-term work or volunteer activities are valuable; however, recommendations from casual acquaintances or family friends, even if they're well known, are rarely given much weight.
- Anything special that makes the student stand out from the rest of the applicants! Include honors, awards, evidence of unusual talent or experience, or anything else that makes the student unique. Overall, colleges are seeking students who will be active contributing members of the student body.