2 years ago
Admissions Advice


When colleges look at your application what are the main things they look it or what guidelines are they looking for.


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1 answer

2 years ago

You seem very lost in this college admissions process. You've been on here for a few months from your previous questions so you must have an idea of what you are doing right?

CollegeVine has some of the best advice videos in the marketplace, so I recommend that you take a Saturday afternoon and watch 10-15 of them. They will cover college admissions, essay writing, making college lists, and financial aid.

In a nutshell, colleges are looking for students that will be a great fit for their college. Fit to a college admissions officer is a combination of things like academics, test scores, experience, personal character, talent, achievements, demographics fit, location fit, (religious fit if you are applying to a religious college), as well as whether they need a certain type of actors on campus like football players, bassoonists, dancers, student leaders, singers, etc. So colleges are cherry-picking applicants that they feel are the best fit for their college. If you are a genius and apply to an average private college, they might think you are overqualified and a better fit for a CMU, GTech, or Harvey Mudd, so they might reject you. And if you are a perfect fit for those schools, and apply to CalTech and MIT, you might get rejected because you are just not impressive enough. As far as aligning your ECs, Talents with what the college is shopping for, the real answer is they are not going to tell you. And guessing is a waste of time. So if you are that great 10-meter platform diver, you should apply to the schools that have the best diving teams because someone might want you.

There are thousands of colleges. The easy ones will not make it difficult to get into because they have 85-90% acceptance rates like the University of Arizona or the University of Oregon. But you still have to meet their academic expectations by taking a full course load of required HS classes and getting good grades. The more difficult ones will use a holistic evaluation of your common app which includes looking at your grades, course rigor, test scores, and intellectual vitality/curiosity. Then in 2nd priority, they will look at your ECs, community service, work experience if you have that, and volunteerism. Then they will evaluate your personal character through recommendations from your teachers and HS Counselor (and sometimes peers), your interview if offered to you, and your achievements/honors. If you have done something impressive or noteworthy, there probably is a trail of evidence of this by google searching you. So they may check up on your ECs, awards, honors, etc, and make sure you have the press coverage to back it up.

Then they will take account of your personal background and adjust whether you deserve a break or not depending on your race, level of being marginalized, and your family dynamic like if you are an orphan or foster child or raised by your grandmother. What state you live in and your zip code matters as well. And what kind of school you attend matters as well. It matters if you are homeschooled, attend a public school or an elite private school, or a boarding school. They try their best not to pre-judge you but remember this is what they do for a living and some of them have done this for 20 years so they are experts on fitment for their school. Like I said upfront if you are over-qualified or under-qualified you are not a good fit for them. So try to put together a list of schools where you think you would be a good fit along the lines of all the criteria I mentioned cross-referenced with the Common Data Set of the school's relative importance preferences for those things.

You don't want to waste thousands of dollars applying to schools that really are a poor fit for you and vice versa. And if you are like a junior or senior you don't have like 2 to 3 years to fix things so focus on the things you have already done and make your application the best it can given the time you have. You still have to get good grades and do well on tests and things so don't worry too much.

Far too many people are focused on trying to get into 20 schools when there are 4000 to choose from. 95% of applicants are not going to get into those schools so start from the first principle and figure out where you belong and who wants you most.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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