10 Things Colleges Want to See on your Application

By: Casey Traverse

  1. ) GPA
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GPA always matters to potential colleges. If you have a high GPA, it shows them that you have a strong work ethic — something they hope will carry over into your college education. They want you to do well at their school, because successful students are more likely to make an immediate impact post-graduation. A high school GPA is used as an indicator for how well you can handle the rigor of college education.

2.) Involvement

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Colleges want to know that their prospective students are well rounded. They aren’t just looking for a student with straight A’s. Standout applicants have diverse interests, a distinct personality, and commit themselves to things they are passionate about. Involvement in extracurricular activities is a huge benefit. This also shows that a student has good time management, because they have to juggle academics along with their other activities. If you have leadership positions in some of your groups, that’s even better. For example, Captain of the volleyball team, or Treasurer of their Class Committee looks very impressive to those reading your application.

3.) Challenging College Prep and/or AP Courses

By taking challenging college prep courses and AP courses in high school, it shows colleges your desire to challenge yourself academically and set yourself apart from other students who are applying. It looks even better on applications if you have taken AP courses, because it shows that you could handle a college level course even before you started your college career.

4.) Community Service

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Community service is an important thing for colleges to see on your application because it says a lot about the kind of person you are. Community service speaks volumes about your morality, compassion, and awareness of social issues. It shows that you care about more than just yourself, and you are actively involved in helping your community. Colleges want overall good people, not just smart people.

5.) Strong SAT Scores

Almost all colleges require that students send in their SAT scores along with their application. SAT, ACT, and TOEFL tests show how well students can demonstrate knowledge of subjects like math, reading comprehension, writing, and so forth at a high school level. It also shows students’ proficiency in test-taking, which can be tricky for some. That’s where we come in! Zinkerz offers SAT, ACT, SAT subject, and TOEFL practice, so that you’ll be a pro by the time you have to take the tests.

6.) Great Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a super important part of a student’s application This letter is basically written proof coming from a credible adult who has witnessed and can vouch for your triumphs, skills, and character. Find a teacher, guidance counselor, or member of the community outside of your school, who is willing to rave about how great you are. It is also important to find a reference who is not a teacher or a guidance counselor, so that the college can validate that the student is great at more than just school. This point of contact can be a coach or a boss, but never a family member or friend.

7.) Work Experience

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Having a job in high school is another great way to show colleges that you are well-rounded, hardworking, and motivated. It shows them that you are goal-oriented and willing to work for success, and you do not just have things handed to you. It can also show colleges individual character traits that could greatly benefit a student’s success, depending on their intended area of study. For example, it is super helpful to put on a college resume that you were a waitress, if you are planning to study hospitality or communication, because it shows that you have practiced customer service and can keep your “client” satisfied.

8.) Insightful and Well-Written Personal Essays

An interesting personal essay can add a lot of weight to a good application. In order to make your essay something that a college application reviewer would want to read, consider writing about something you feel passionately about. It can be about anything; I wrote my college essay about writing, which I know seems boring, but it is something that I love to do and is a huge part of my life. I figured the best way to reach the reader was to make them feel as passionately about the subject as I do. A friend of mine wrote their college essays about cheese, and another wrote about Hitler. There really are no limits in regard to what subjects you can write about. Just let your creativity flow!