Top Twelve Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for:
(based on a survey of IECA member consultants)
A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and may include AP or IB classes
Grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend. However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are preferred to all As in less challenging coursework.
Solid scores on standardized tests (SAT, ACT). These should be consistent with high school performance.
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.
Passionate involvement in a few activities, demonstrating leadership and initiative. Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important.
Demonstrated leadership and initiative in extra-curricular activities. Students who arrive on campus prepared to lead clubs and activities are highly desirable.
Personal characteristics that will contribute to a diverse and interesting student body. Many colleges seek to develop a freshman class that is diverse: geographically, culturally, ethnically, economically, and politically Special talents or experiences that will contribute to an interesting and well-rounded student body.
Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school, leisure pursuits, and more. Demonstrated enthusiasm, often exhibited by campus visits and an interview, showing an interest toward attending the college.
Demonstrated enthusiasm to attend, often exhibited by campus visits and an interview, showing an interest toward attending the college if offered admission. Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school and leisure pursuits, and more.
Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors that give evidence of integrity, special skills, positive character traits, and an interest in learning.
Special talents that will contribute to the college’s student life program. Colleges like to know what you intend to bring to campus, as well as what you’ll take from your college experience.
Out of school experiences including work, community service, youth organizations, religious groups, etc. Again, passionate involvement is meaningful to the admissions office; casual memberships are not.