I am writing this article to the class of 2018, as they begin their journey called “the senior year of high school.” The first three months, September through November, are arguably the three most important months of their senior year. These three months are typically the months that your applications to colleges must be submitted. Depending on the college or colleges that you want to apply to, it is important to be at the beginning of the submitting process. It is always better to be at the front of the line than at the back of the line.
It is important for you to understand the application process so that you can stand out from the rest of your competition.
To begin with, all colleges, whether they want to admit it or not, use some type of scoring system to rate their applicants. Colleges and universities receive literally thousands of admission applications and they must have a way of keeping track of each individual student who applies.
There are several different rating systems that are used by the institutions. They may assign numbers, letters, etc., to each application they receive. It is not important to the student what type of scoring system is used by the college, it is only important for you to know that these rating systems do exist.
Commonly, each portion of the student’s admission application is assigned a score and then the application is given an over-all rating. This rating will ultimately decide the student’s future at that particular institution.
Here are the most common areas of the student’s admission application that are usually given a score by the institution:
- SAT and/or ACT Scores – Testing multiple times is important. Not only will this most-often increase scores, but it also demonstrates the student’s desire to succeed.
- Grade Point Average – This average is usually not the one that was determined by the student’s high school; instead, this average is usually determined by using the college’s formula that is based on the difficulty of the classes taken by the student and the grades received in each class. This will give the institution an accurate grade point average for all of its applicants.
- High School Activities – Colleges are always looking for active participants, not those students who join several clubs and organizations but fail to be active in any of them.
- Letters of Recommendation – Some institutions may request several recommendation letters. It is definitely to the student’s advantage to include as many letters of recommendation as possible in their college admission application packet.
- Student’s Admission Essay – The essay is usually given two separate scores, one for the student’s writing ability and the other for the content of the essay.
- One other important factor to keep in mind – If an admission application is “flagged”, it is moved from the large group of all other applicants and considered separately. A flag is a distinguishing mark on an admission application that denotes the application is special. There are three common groups of applicants who receive a flag:
- Students who have special talents
- Students of alumni
- Students who are a part of an under-represented minority
It can be extremely important to make sure that if you fall into any one of these categories that you mention this in your application.
Several institutions now assign two Admissions Officers to each applicant. Each officer will then review the student’s application and each will assign a score. Generally, if the average score of each Admissions Officer is over a certain level, the student will automatically be offered admission; likewise, if the score is below a certain criterion, the student is most-often declined. Most students usually fall somewhere in between the high and the low criteria, and their applications are then referred to the admissions committee for the final decision.
I hope that this information gives you a heads up on how the process actually works. I think I would like just to add an emphasis on two things. First, the old saying, “the early bird gets the worm” is true in who gets accepted and who gets the most financial aid from the colleges themselves. It is extremely important to be at the head of the line instead of at the back of the line. Secondly, be sure and get great letters of references – they will use these to determine if you are the type of student they want to admit into their college and/or give you financial assistance.
As always, if you have any questions, you can always email me or call me.