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What Colleges Want

What Does a College Look For In Making The Admission Decision?

Colleges consider a variety of factors in making admission decisions. Admissions counselors look at the "whole student" as well as at their particular institution's needs for that year.

Colleges are often faced with the difficult situation of having to choose among many equally qualified candidates. The decisions colleges make are not easy ones and they do the best they can in analyzing different criteria.

The most important factor in college admission is the quality of a student's academic preparation. Colleges are looking for students who have strong preparation in the five major academic areas - English, social studies, math, science and foreign language. Other factors used in the admission decision are listed below.

How colleges weight each factor varies with the individual school. The following list of criteria comes from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s 2008 State of College Admission Report.  Colleges consider these factors of “considerable importance” in making the admission decision.  The factors are ranked in order of importance, with 60-80% of colleges ranking the first three factors of “considerable importance” in the decision. 

Grades in college prep classes
Strength of curriculum
Admission test scores
Grades in all courses
Class rank
Demonstrated interest
Counselor recommendation
Teacher recommendation
Extracurricular activities

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