What Colleges Are Looking For – Money Magazine

IECA Member Logo 4-C+TypeMoney Magazine (part of Time Magazine) published an article last week based on a membership survey by the Independent Educational Consultants Association, of which I am a Professional member.

The article details the list of what colleges look for when students submit their college applications.  Keeping in mind that 70% of colleges admit an average of 70% of applicants, you can read this list as it applies to the more highly selective colleges.

Here’s a little additional commentary on the items on this list:

#2 – Parents and students always wonder if they should take the Honors or AP class and possibly get a little lower grade, or the regular-level class and get an A.  The answer is TAKE THE HARDER CLASS!  Rigor is highly prioritized.  Students who challenge themselves with honors, AP, IB or community college courses stand out more in the college application process.

#3 – Notice that this says “consistent with high school performance.”  If your test scores are significantly higher than your grades would otherwise indicate (especially if you do not have an upward trend in your grades), colleges will likely think that you are not performing up to your potential in school (ie you haven’t been putting in your full effort).  And if your scores are significantly lower than your grades would indicate, colleges may wonder about your school’s grading system, and possible grade inflation.

#5 – Colleges prefer that students are involved deeply and continuously (ie over a period of several years) in just a few activities, demonstrating interest, mastery and leadership.  Your deep involvement in a few activities, rather than just being a member of many, will stand out in your college application.

This article in TeenLife Magazine has a few tips on some smaller things that can make a difference:

  • Demonstrate your interest in a college early – that means 10th and 11th graders – reach out NOW to college admissions officers!  (If you’re a senior and your application is already submitted, reaching out to admissions officers is not demonstrating your interest, it’s demonstrating that you are impatient.)
  • OPEN ALL E-MAILS that colleges send to you.  They can track this.
  • Follow colleges and admissions offices on Twitter.

If you have any questions about these or any other part of your college search, feel free to get in touch!  You can also sign up to receive our monthly e-newsletter on that page.



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