According to a recent report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, State of College Admission (2015), grades, curriculum strength and test scores are the top three factors that admission officers consider when evaluating applicants. Next, the essays and recommendations play a critical role.

2 Answers

Julie Kriesel Points80
The application a student fills out to apply to a particular college or university allows admissions officers the chance to "get to know" that student through biographical information, academic achievement, test scores, and extra-curricular activities.  Additionally, a counselor recommendation, teacher recommendations and the applicant's essay are used to learn more about the applicant and determine whether they will be an asset to the school, both in and outside of the classroom.  Typically, a student's grades, strength of courses and test scores are the three most important factors, however as a former admissions officer at a highly selective university, I can assure you that many other factors weigh into that final decision a college or university.  If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to email me (juliekusa2015@yahoo.com) and I would be happy to discuss this!
For highly selective schools, the single most important piece of the puzzle is always your TRANSCRIPT. This one-page document from your school is looked at in two ways. First, admission offices want to see your grades AND the trend over time (the best predictor of college success is your most recent grades). Second, your transcript will be evaluated for its perceived rigor - that is, have you taken advantage of the demanding courses your school offers (AP, IB, Honors, etc.)? Of course, there are many other pieces of the admission puzzle - from recommendations and test scores, to extra curricular activities and your essay. Not one piece will ever get you in, rarely will only one piece prevent a denial. More and more schools are using a holistic approach and focus on your character as well (leadership, perseverance, resilience, passion, and empathy). If you would like to discuss any of this in more detail, please feel free to email me.

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