Last week an Admissions Office at a local university had an open house for employees, staff, and people looking to learn more about the admissions process. When I arrived at the office I was given a “passport” to get stamped at each stop. By far my favorite stop was the “Application Evaluation & Review” done by a recruiter. I gained a lot of insightful information that I hope will help me in my high school internship this fall. Obviously each college has their own process on admitting students so this information may not be true for all schools.
1. This particular school does NOT look at GPA.
This was a HUGE takeaway for me because I had always thought that GPA could make or break your application right away at any school. Instead this college only looks at core classes: Maths, Sciences, Social Studies, English, Foreign Language. The admissions counselors cross out all other classes found on your transcript. Of course it is not ideal if you do poorly in a auto mechanics class BUT it is not going to ruin your chances of getting into this college. On the other side, if you are counting on your As in band to help bring up your GPA it may not have that much of an impact.
2. IB, AP, and Dual Enrollment are viewed as EQUALS
I do not know that much about IB courses but I learned today that it is the most vigorous coursework available to high school students. It is also internationally recognized. Pretty impressive if students do well in these courses.
AP courses seem to be more widely available, as well as Dual Enrollment classes at Community Colleges. I remember wondering as a high school student if I should dual enroll or if I should take an honors course. After attending this open house I now know that dual enrollment shows college admissions personnel that the student can handle the intensity and vigor of a college course.
The key is doing WELL in these classes. Schools do not want to see a D as a final grade regardless of its a regular class or an AP course.
3. 4 Years of foreign language is more impressive than 2 years of 2 different languages
This was also something that I was unsure about before attending this open house. My high school offered two diplomas: regular & advanced. To receive the advanced diploma you had to take 4 years of 1 language or 2 years of 2 different languages (4 years total). As a student it seemed like both were good options. The reality is doing well in 4 or 5 years of 1 foreign language is more desirable than either 4 years split between 2 languages or fewer than 4 years total in 1 language.
4. The admissions committees read EVERYTHING that is sent
Everything that is sent in with a college application matters and is read. The essay is a GREAT way for the admission team to get to know applicants, as are letters of recommendation. Transcripts, school profiles, student schedule, and test scores help the team learn about the high school, the academic program offered to the student and if the student took challenging courses offered at their high school. It is also helpful to send everything into admissions in a packet. This helps decrease the likelihood that something would be misplaced, lost or misfiled.
I got the impression that Calculus is the most desirable math course to see on a student’s schedule. This was beneficial to me because I remember the debate between calculus vs statistics my senior year.
6. Above all else – ACADEMICS are the MOST Important
The admissions recruiter explained that extracurricular activities are a given and a student cannot control what is offered at his/her high school. What the students can control is their schedule and challenging themselves in the courses that are available. Above all else – doing well in the classes is extremely important. Doing well in AP, IB, Dual Enrollment, or Honors courses is even better (this is probably a given but the admissions recruiter stressed it so I thought I should mention it).
What tips do you have about the college admissions process?
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