What are colleges and universities really looking for in admission?
FIrst, you should know that colleges are selfish—first they must meet institutional needs. What really matters to colleges isn’t what you think and it changes. It is a "what's-in-it-for-me?" approach to admission on behalf of colleges.
Here is what colleges often look for:
-high class rank (GPA), test scores (SAT/ACT) to improve their image
-academic success in specific areas to further their mission and improve their image; strong academic symbols help, preferably at the state or national levels
-developing leaders to improve their reputations; strong extra-curricular leadership helps; state or national level
-winning sports teams--you might help if you are recruited to play for the college's team
-money to grow their nest-egg (endowment); meaning for example, that you do not require financial aid.
Image enhancement is a pre-occupation with colleges and universities. They worry about being relevant and thriving in the long term. How does this effect the applicant? Applicants who get in do so because they further the aims and goals of a particular college or university--in other words, they help enhance the college's image.
Some advice to college applicants: there is more to admission than your GPA/SAT's. While colleges need this information, they will often go far beyond grades and test scores in making their final admission determinations. You should think about what you bring to colleges that will help them achieve their goals. Extra-curriculars are key; I would say nearly 50% of the total admission picture
Colleges are looking for individual experts and NOT looking for well-rounded generalists. Find something you care about and excel at the state or national competition level.
Athletics is often one of the top routes to admission. Another thing to consider is that most top tier schools do not offer scholarship money to athletes-- they just just admit the person. Be sure to take an active role in the recruiting process. You should start by giving coaches at your colleges a resume and cover letter and possibly a video of your skills and competitive play.
For more information about how to stand out from the pack in the admission process, please review our college consulting services: http://www.collegematchus.com/services.html