College Admissions 101: What Do Colleges Look For? | The Princeton Review

College Admissions 101: What Do Colleges Look For? | The Princeton Review

August 16, 2019 9 By Stanley Isaacs


[music]>>ROB: Hey folks, Rob Franek and I’m Editor-in-Chief
here at The Princeton Review and we are here with our series Ask Us Anything at The Princeton
Review and you have volleyed many questions our way. [short music break] The question that we are tackling today is:
what do admission counselors who are reviewing our college applications actually look for
when they start to evaluate our application? [short music break] Folks there are six things that are the most
important criteria for admission counselors and admission committees reviewing your application. Number one on that list, and this does not
fluctuate, is going to be your high school transcript and your high school GPA. Folks your high school transcript is the most
revealing, the weightiest document in your college admission application because it answers
this question for admission counselors and admission committees at schools large and
small. And that question is: Did you challenge yourself
in high school? Did you challenge yourself? With regular-level courses, or advanced level
courses, or AP-level courses, or IB-level courses. What were the opportunities that you had in
high school? Did you take advantage of those opportunities
and then obviously, what’s your GPA? How well did you do? [short music break] Number two on the list are standardized tests
and we’re going to sharpen that. We’re going to say the SAT and the ACT. To a slightly lesser degree, AP exams and
SAT Subject Tests. Folks, we’re 4,000 teachers at The Princeton
Review, a long time teaching the SAT and the ACT. These are deeply, deeply flawed exams. They’re also still the gatekeepers along
with your high school GPA to get you into college, but hear us when we say this: these
are incredibly coachable exams and still the second most important. And even test-optional schools, some of them,
are using those SAT and ACT scores, not only for academic admission, but for scholarship
dollars. [short music break] Number three on the list is your college essay. Folks, if you’re fifteen years old watching
this video or ninety-five years old, those open-ended questions, your prompts from those
college essays can send shivers of fear down your spine and you’re in good company. But here’s the thing, remember this about
your college essay: it’s such a singular and such a unique way for you to describe
something about yourself to that admission counselor or that admission committee. Folks, your essay should be as unique as you
are. Number four on the list are recommendation
letters. Folks, just two quick points about your recommendations. Number one, follow direction. If a school is asking you for three letters
of recommendation, don’t send in ten. And make sure that you are choosing wisely
those folks that are recommending you. They should be able easily to talk about your
character, your values, your perseverance, your grit, your moxy, in the classroom and
outside of the classroom. Number five: demonstrated interest. Folks, the blessing and the curse about living
in modern times is that every interaction that you have with a college or university
is tracked. Met somebody at a college fair, went for an
informational interview, sat in on a class. Tracked, tracked, tracked! This is valuable for you to find fit, and
also, if that school is going to say “I’m going to admit you,” they would look back
at all those interactions. They’re going to ask that same question,
“Are you likely to come?” And demonstrated interest is where it’s
at. Six on the list are your list of extracurricular
activities. Just like your essay folks, your list of extracurricular
activities should be as unique as you are. You and I could never have the same list of
extracurricular activities, we’re different people. And that is the glory of the college admission
process. I’m going to leave you with this. As we were saying before, the admission process
is a quantitative process in some regard. SAT and ACT scores, your high school GPA. But, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell
you that the admission process is a very human process as well. Folks, that’s our job at The Princeton Review,
is to make you as confident and savvy about that process. Folks, we have so much more of this information
on princetonreview.com as well as throughout our social media channels and our new book,
College Admission 101. Folks, if you have questions that you’d
like us to answer here, please do email us at [email protected] Thanks again.