Getting into College

Once you have determined the college that best match your interests, it’s time to begin the application process. It’s important to recognize that your college acceptance will depend not only on your credentials and applications, but also on how intense the competition is for admission to the school. There are several important areas relative to your application for admission to college; academic profile (transcript, standardized tests, class rank), the essay (personal statement), recommendations, extracurricular activities, and the interview. It should be clearly realized that some issues that impact upon admission potential are outside of your control; the number of applicants, your high school’s reputation, and the section of the country you come from.

The factor provides a picture of your educational accomplishments and thus may indicate possible future academic potential. These three items include; courses completed and their grades, standardized test scores, and class rank. College seeks students who are capable of successfully meeting the challenge that their curriculum presents, as well as other significant factors. Each school follows its own procedure for screening applicants.

  • Transcript: your transcript provides a list of courses in the past, or presently, and the grades assigned to those you have completed. The two elements, courses and grades, provide a picture of your effort and achievement and need to be carefully interpreted in order to draw the appropriate conclusion about your future potential. This information is a key ingredient in the college admission assessment process. However, the nature of your transcript is not taken at face value. Taking challenging courses and achieving superior grades is the best recipe for making a favorable impression on admissions officers. Your choice of courses is therefore a significant factor in setting the “tone” of your transcript. Most schools offer such honors work as Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Where this is the case, admissions committees would expect you to enroll in several of these, preferably balanced between the sciences and non-sciences. Admissions officers are likely aware of difficult courses that appear on your transcript. In viewing your transcript the admissions officers’ search for trends is a standard approach. Special attention is frequently given to your most recent level of performance, namely your junior and senior year grades. Also consistent direction of the level of your work is a significant factor. Consistent superior work over the years, or a marked upward trend from a mediocre start, can prove helpful in advancing your case toward the acceptance goal.
  • Standardized tests: the use of standardized tests “levels the playing field”, because it provides for uniformity in judging performance. It makes it possible for candidates who come from different high schools to be compared in an objective manner. Consequently, a more reliable comparative assessment can be made between candidates for admission. There is a consensus among admissions officers that the combination of both transcript and standardized test scores is a better predictor of performance than the use of the transcript by itself. Because of this enhanced predictive value, most colleges mandate taking either the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Testing) as a prerequisite for applying for admission. Some require specific achievement test. The impact of your scores on your admission chances varies widely and is dependent on the particular school’s admission policy. Larger institutions place considerable weight on the results of standardized tests. In general, the scores are commonly considered in the context of the student’s transcript. While the test scores may be indicators of academic ability, their validation is determined by whether the scores are consistent with one’s grade point average in high school. A wide discrepancy between the two will raise concerns. Another factor that needs to be kept in mind is that the more your score is close to the college’s median, the less significant role it will have. If there is a meaningful deviation from the median, however, this will catch the attention of the admissions officers. Depending on the direction and how extreme the deviation is, its impact upon your admission chance will be positive or negative.
  • Class rank: your transcript will not only contain a list of courses, but may frequently also indicate your class rank. The value of this figure depends on whether it is “weighted or un-weighted.” In the latter case, class rank is formulated without taking the difficulty of course load into consideration. In such cases, class rank is less valuable to admissions officers, unless there are several students from your school applying and each is taking courses that are equally challenging. A weighted rank provides a more meaningful appraisal, since more difficult courses are given greater weight others. Schools that cite weighted rank usually use ranking guidelines adopted by the professional organization of school principals, registrars, and admissions officers. Where the school has its own ranking system, it will describe it in its profile.

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