How To Evaluate College Admissions Criteria

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  • 0:02 College Admissions
  • 0:40 Finding Information
  • 2:59 What Colleges Look For
  • 6:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Applying for college can be stressful and confusing. In this lesson, we'll go over the college admissions process, including looking at where students can go for answers about specific admissions questions and what colleges look for.

College Admissions

Tamzin is in high school. She's getting ready to apply for colleges, but she's not really sure what to do or how to put her best foot forward.

College admissions is the process of applying and getting accepted to a college. It can be a very stressful time for students, who often wonder what college admissions offices are looking for, how they can get accepted, and a host of other questions.

Let's look closer at the college admissions process, including how to find information about college admissions requirements and some general guidelines about what colleges look for in applicants.

Finding Information

So, Tamzin knows that she wants to go to college, and she knows that she needs to apply. But how does she do that? And how does she find out about the requirements?

The college admissions process can be daunting. It's not helped by the fact that each college has its own specific requirements, and they vary from college to college. Tamzin is considering applying to three different schools. How can she find out what she needs to do for each of them?

There are two things that Tamzin can do to learn about the specific process and requirements at each of the schools that she's considering.

1. Contact the admissions office.
Each school has an admissions office, which is in charge of processing applications. They usually have a website that answers important questions, like how to apply and when application deadlines are. A phone call or email to them is always a good place to start. Since Tamzin lives in the same city as one of the colleges to which she's applying, she can even make an appointment to visit the admissions office to get her questions answered.

One important thing that Tamzin should know is that it's usually better for her to contact the admissions office, not her parents. While having parents contact them isn't going to cause them not to choose a student for admission, if Tamzin has had contact with members of staff in the office and they are impressed with her, it could give her an extra boost when they are considering her application.

2. Join the mailing list or connect online.
Often, school admissions offices have an email list, blog, Twitter account, or other way of keeping prospective students in the loop. By adding her name to the email list or following them on Twitter or reading their blog, Tamzin can learn powerful tips about applying.

And when Tamzin is contacting the admissions office or connecting with them via a mailing list or online, the first (and most important) thing that she needs to know about each college's application process is what the deadlines are. Knowing when her application is due will help her prepare it and get it out on time. Admissions officers do not like and will often not consider late applications!

What Colleges Look For

Other than on-time applications, though, what exactly are colleges looking for? Tamzin really wants to get into a good college, but she's just not sure what is considered to be a 'good' application.

As we mentioned, every college is different, and talking to the admissions office is your best bet. However, there are a few things that most colleges look for in applicants.

1. Transcripts - Your high school transcripts are one of the most important things that a college admissions team will consider. Almost all colleges look at high school transcripts as one of the two most important criteria for admission. They will look at your GPA (that is, how well you did in your classes), but they will also look at the difficulty of your course load in high school. In other words, Tamzin shouldn't take a bunch of easy classes just to get a great GPA; most of the time, she's better with a slightly lower GPA in more challenging classes.

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