If you think that the essay is the most important part of a college application, you’re wrong. College admission officers place more value on items that actually reflect how you or your college-bound child will fair at their university.
Writing a snappy, heartfelt essay about your trip through South America may give you some points for individuality, but this piece of material does not give admissions officers an accurate portrait of your future performance as a student. Take a look at the top five factors college admissions officers look at most when it comes to evaluating the candidacy of a student.
Every year the State of College Admission Report collects data on what admissions officers are looking for when evaluating applicants. And the results might surprise you. Based on last year’s report, the following five categories hold the most weight when it comes to a yay or nay vote and swaying the minds of admission officers.
As you can see, the grades you get in college prep courses like AP Bio, AP Calculus, and AP Literature hold much more weight with admissions officers than the ideas you put in your essay. This is because your AP scores give admissions officers a good idea of how well you’ll perform in college classes. You’ve already done the work, so obviously, admissions officers are going to pay attention to the results.
From there, admissions officers will take a look at the overall strength of the curriculum you were exposed to in high school, your GPA, and your SAT or ACT scores. This gives them an overview of your academic ability, giving them a sense of how well you prepare for a test, and how active you are in the classroom.
Your college essay is a valuable tool that should not be overlooked, but don’t expect your essay to save your application if you avoided AP courses or didn’t perform well in school. The essay is primarily used to show off your creative skills and your individual personality. As vital as grades and test scores can be in the application process, they don’t reveal much about the personality or imagination of the candidate in question.
Depending on the area of study, many top-tier schools will seek out candidates that are capable of original thought and those that have something unique to say. This is a great opportunity for you to show off your writing abilities and talk more about your life experiences, but you shouldn’t overlook the value of hard work in the classroom.
Many high school students aren’t sure where to focus their time and energy when applying to college. The State of College Admissions Report is here to clear up some of that confusion.
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