TOP 10 THINGS COLLEGES LOOK FOR IN APPLICANTS
1. A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and may include honors or AP classes. Colleges want to know that you're demanding a lot of yourself. Take the hardest classes you can.
2. Grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend. Don't give up; keep doing your best.
3. Solid scores on standardized tests (SAT, ACT). These should be consistent with high school performance. Pick one of these tests, prepare for it and get a score that accurately reflects your ability. A good score can help you qualify for scholarships.
4. Passionate involvement in a few activities, demonstrating leadership and initiative. Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important. Quality not quantity!
5. Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors that give evidence of integrity, special skills, positive character traits, and an interest in learning. Give your teachers and counselors time to write good letters for you. Make it easy for them to help you. Respect their time. Request that they serve as a reference at least four weeks before the recommendation is due. Provide them with information about your accomplishments so they can include specific information in your letter.
6. 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. If a college requires an essay you can be sure they're going to use it in their admissions decisions. Your essay is your last chance to show your value to the college.
7. Special talents or experiences that will contribute to an interesting and well rounded student body. Colleges are especially interested in students who are outstanding in one or two things.
8. Demonstrated leadership in activities. Colleges want people who will arrive prepared and willing to take leadership of student activities and events.
9. Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school and leisure pursuits, and more. Let them know about books you're reading, concerts or art exhibits you're attending, lectures you've gone to in the community. Public libraries are great places to find these opportunities.
10. Demonstrated enthusiasm, often exhibited by campus visits and an interview, showing an interest toward attending the college. Some ways you can show the college that you're interested in them even if you can't visit campus: find out who your admissions counselor is and call and email him/her with questions you have, check their website frequently and tell them about activities on campus that sound exciting to you, let them know about any new accomplishments you've achieved since you sent in your application.
Adapted from KARE11.com, article by College Connectors, 08/13/10
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