What colleges really look for in applications

What colleges really look for in applications

By Mary Granath Posted December 16, 2009

At Lowry High School and most high schools in general, there are numerous things that the administration and advisors tell you will help get you into the college of your choice. Such things as the Honors Diploma, Key Club, letters of recommendation, National Honor Society, and Student Body or Class Office positions, are recommended as ways to elevate your application to the next level. However, these stimulants can sometimes only cause the application process to be more harrowing than it already is. So the question arises of whether or not colleges actually care about any of these things and whether or not the application process is worth the pain.

On collegeboard.com Brigham Young University (BYU) lists “Religious Affiliation”, “Rigor of secondary school record”, and “Standardized Test Scores” in the top five of their “very important admission factors.”

On the ACT 94% of BYU’s students scored between a 25 and a 30, and 62% of students have a 3.75 GPA or higher (collegeboard.com).

University of Nevada: Reno (UNR), on the other hand, has a different view. On collegeboard.com they have only two important admission factors: “rigor of secondary school record”, and “academic GPA”.

The representative for UNR, Rena Hanks, agreed with this saying “Our main criteria is GPA on core classes.”

When asked whether or not receiving an Honors Diploma makes a difference Hanks stated “if honors classes make up the honors diploma or they take additional core classes to receive the honors diploma, then yes, it would receive more weight,” however, even if a student took honors and A.P. classes yet did not apply for the Honors Diploma, their application would still be just as good as someone’s who did receive the Honors Diploma.

At UNR, extra-curricular activities do not boost a student’s application unless you are applying to the Honors Program, in which case membership in National Honor Society is considered to be important.

In addition to the many things that require attention, one more to add to the list is whether or not the early decision option is for you. In an article posted at U.S. News, the author stated, “If you really, really know which college you have to attend, the “early decision” application route could be your best chance at getting in…With early decision, you can take advantage of the higher acceptance rates that many colleges offer to students who apply early.”

But what it really comes down to is whether or not the whole application process is worth the effort it takes. In an article posted at U.S. News, David L. Marcus, a volunteer interviewer for Brown University, actually refers to the admission process as “a game whose stakes really are not that high” implying that what college you go to doesn’t really make a difference. Many agree with this theory stating that it doesn’t matter where you go, what counts is the effort you put into your education.

Katy Granath is someone who agrees with this theory. Granath graduated from Lowry in 2009 and now attends Seattle University. She concurs that the college isn’t what makes the difference it’s your own personal commitment.

“If you’re willing to put in the time and energy, it doesn’t matter whether you go to Yale or UNLV, you’ll learn exactly how much you’re willing to learn,” said Granath.

Granath also gave further details about the application process and what parts of her application colleges actually cared about.

In regards to the Honors Diploma Granath stated, “A college doesn’t care what title comes before the word diploma. They do care how many honors and AP courses you’ve taken, however, so taking those kinds of classes is never a bad idea.”

Granath also said that participation in extra-curricular can aid your application.

“The college looking over your app wants to know that you’re more than just a test-taking robot,” said Granath. “They want to make sure you’re going to be a valuable addition to their school personally…It really doesn’t matter what activity it is, just that you have one.”

There are many parts to the application process, some that are irrelevant and others that matter immensely. However, figuring out which are important is more difficult than people assume. It depends on the college and one’s own personal opinion.

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