Top 10 Things Colleges Look For In An Applicant

"This is Fern"

Top Ten Things Colleges Look for in a High School Student

1. A high school curriculum that challenges the student. Academically successful students should include several Honors and Advanced Placement classes.

2. Grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend. Grades should show an upward trend over the years. However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are preferred to all A’s in less challenging coursework.

3. Solid scores on standardized tests (SAT, ACT). These should be consistent with high school performance.

4. Passionate involvement in a few activities, demonstrating leadership and initiative.
Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important.

5. Community service showing evidence of being a “contributor.”
Activities should demonstrate concern for other people and a global view.

6. Work or out-of-school experiences (including summer activities) that illustrate responsibility, dedication and development of areas of interest. A job or other meaningful use of free time can demonstrate maturity.

7. A well-written essay that provides insight into the student’s unique personality, values and goals.The application essay should be thoughtful and highly personal. It should demonstrate careful and well-constructed writing.

8. Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors that give evidence of integrity, special skill, and positive character traits. Students should request recommendations from teachers who respect their work in an academic discipline.

9. Supplementary recommendations by adults who have had significant direct contact with the student. Letters from coaches or supervisors in long-term work or volunteer activities are valuable; however, recommendations from casual acquaintances or family friends, even if they’re well known, are rarely given much weight.

10. Anything special that makes the student stand out from the rest of the applicants! Include honors, awards, evidence of unusual talent or experience, or anything else that makes the student unique. Overall, colleges are seeking students who will be active contributing members of the student body.

Independent Educational Consultants Association &

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Tags: application, civic, college, education, engagement,, learning,, service, technology, More…youtopia

Comment by Steve Hargadon on January 14, 2013 at 8:46am

This is interesting, but it's a form of advertisement, Rachel, which we really don't allow on the site.  I'm leavingit up, though, to make a comment:  as thoughtful as the idea behind youtopia is, it still places the core focus on matching someone else's expectations (colleges), and I'm increasingly worried that this model is disempowering to the great majority of youth, who spend more time worrying about how others are evaluating them instead of what they care about themselves, even if that sometimes means going to a school not on everyone else's "list" or not going to college at all.  Conforming to the cultural expectations of the college track has historically made a lot of sense, but with recent concerns about what colleges actually provide, and with the importance of independent and entrepreneurial thinking in the new economy, that may no longer be the smart decisions for many.

Comment by Rachel M Angres on January 14, 2013 at 9:27am

I agree, thank you Steve. I would be honored if you would be willing to give additional feedback, seeing as Youtopia is so very new. We really need experts like yourself to guide us and help us better understand the educator and their standpoint. 

Although I will say this info-graph does not represent what Youtopia is: a site where students can embrace their passions, in and outside of the classroom and track their achievements. It is also a tool that is used to help teachers organize and reward their students for service learning, civic engagement and more. 

I too worry that higher education especially is becoming so competitive and rigid--not to mention extremely expensive--that somehow education has become an industry. And the ethical issues surrounding that could reshape the art of pedagogy. 

Comment by Marie Bjerede on January 14, 2013 at 3:12pm

So I wonder, Rachel, how you see your own organization as part of that industry?  You propose two interesting, yet potentially diametrically opposed services.

1.  The capacity for students to thoughtfully track and present their contributions beyond academics will become increasingly critical.  This not only serves the purpose of students taking charge of their own reputation and voice, but allows them to understand themselves better by noticing the things that genuinely inspire them.

2.  The capability for teachers to "organize and reward" is, generally, detrimental to student intrinsic motivation and perpetuates the power of institutions to decide what students "ought" to be like.

Which one makes for the better business case?  Can you make a business out of helping students to exercise their power to recognize and develop their authentic interests and values?

Comment by Rachel M Angres on January 14, 2013 at 6:52pm

Thank you Marie, I should clarify-- I do not believe that education is or should be an "industry" In fact I do not object to businesses serving schools but do object to schools serving businesses. 

You make two compelling arguments that are both valid and have merit in their own right, although Youtopia does not dictate nor decide what a student or teacher ought to do. The software is designed so that the teacher can set up lesson plans, service learning, civic engagement activities and more and be able to verify their students progress instantly. 

The reward is meant to boost the students self-esteem and encourage them to engage with their community on their own after reaping the benefits of service work they were assigned to do initially. 

Please visit the site and if you would like to try Youtopia for a free trial use the promo code friend when visiting 

I would be honored to garner your feedback, input and criticisms. 

Thank you Marie


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