The essay, GPA, test scores, precise answers, and perfect grammar.
The importance of each component within your application will depend upon the institution(s) to which you apply. At most four-year colleges, high school grades play an extremely important role in the admissions process. So does the rigor of your high school courses, especially at very selective institutions that receive applications from students earning great marks in a variety of AP, IB and honors courses. Your standardized test scores are also very important, although an increasing number of selective liberal arts colleges, in particular, have adopted test-optional admissions policies that allow students to be judged on the basis of their transcript (i.e., their grades/courses in high school). On average, liberal arts college also tend to place more emphasis on your essays and extracurricular resume–their size enables them to adopt a more holistic admissions process and evaluate students on a more individualized basis. Many larger universities still consider essays and extracurricular participation; however, given state mandates (at public universities specifically) and a high volume of applications, universities are likely to adopt more formula-driven admissions procedures and often admit students primarily on the basis of their grades and standardized test scores.
Here is my video response to the question.
The most important component of your application is your transcript. Your grades and academic performance in college prep courses and general courses are most important.
Definitely your Grade Point Average in the core classes and the rigor of the curriculum. Admissions officers want to see that you took the most difficult college preparatory classes offered by your high school and that you did well in those courses. If your high school does not offer such courses, then try to take supplemental classes at a local college. The other aspects of the application are all important, but colleges give different weights to different aspects depending on the school’s mission.
high school transcript
collegeboard test results
This is a loaded question because the entire application is important or else the college wouldn’t be asking for the information from you. The most important part is the transcript and your grades. Nothing will be more important that the work you put in over the four years of high school so make sure you continue to bring that GPA up until the very end. Make sure if you are wanting to pursue a math or science field that you do well in your math and science courses especially. The next part that is most important to colleges that most students overlook are the courses you take. Colleges want to see that you have challenged yourself each year by taking the most challenging classes that you could have. This means that if you did well in an honors course, that you took the AP course the next year. Then comes the SAT/ACT scores. After this the essays are still important and the extracurricular activities. There are a lot of colleges though that only consider the grades, courses and scores though.
Grades, tests score and strength of schedule still dominate admissions decisions at most campuses. Essays, Letters of Rec and Extracurriculars will help, but they typically won’t make or break your application unless you are a borderline candidate.
The essay, precise answers, and perfect grammar.
There is no single most important component, but some factors are more important than others. First and foremost is your academic record, your performance in the context of the challenges you have pursued. Did you challenge yourself academically and did you respond well to that challenge? Too, they want to know what matters to you. To what things have you made a commitment. Your teacher recommendations will also be important. Standardized test scores can be important but that varies from school to school. The central goal of your application must always be to provide as complete a picture as possible of who you are and what you can contribute to the school community, for that community is what the admissions office is trying to create and often their decisions are less about the individual than about how they fill an institutional need, so let them kow what you can offer.
All parts of the application are important. I would say your high school transcript is #1. The committee will be looking at not just your grades, but whether your took a challenging course load and how you performed. There is a lot of discussion out there about the value of test scores, each school has their own theory on that subject. Next most valuable aspect of the application would be the essay, demonstrated interest and recommendations. The schools only ask for information they are going to factor in to their decision making process.
All the components of your application should work together to create a strong, complete picture of who you are as a person and a student. In this sense, every part counts! Envision your application as puzzle pieces that you’re fitting together to form a rich and unique presentation of yourself and your accomplishments. Grades continue to be the most important factor colleges consider in admissions decisions, so be sure you take the most rigorous courses available to you. Depending on the school you applying to, test scores can also be a key element. Since the essay and supplement essays offer the most wide-open opportunity to show who you are, they are very valuable pieces of your application and deserve your absolute best effort and attention.
I am answering this from the perspective of a college advisor rather than an admissions officer in a college/university.
Your curriculum, grades, test scores are the most important bases. Letter of recommendation, essays, and special talents are what will set you apart at highly selective schools.
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