What are the most important components of the application?
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.
In the frenzy and confusion over millions of extracurricular activities and gimmicky essays and trying to track down the “best” letters of recommendation — sometimes the most basic and fundamental element of a college application gets lost in the shuffle — ACADEMICS.
Choose coursework that challenges you. Be diligent about your classwork. Take initiative and interest in your education. Almost every college in America points to the transcript first and foremost.
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.
The most important parts of the application are the parts that the college(s) to which you are applying stress in their application information.
One of the important jobs of the application process is to make it clear that you can – or cannot – follow directions. So follow their directions.
NOTE: Some colleges do a rotten job of explaining their application requirements on their web site, and their admissions counselors may assume you are dumb if you ask to have the instructions clarified.
Pay no attention to their attitude: If you are confused by the instructions, it means their information is indeed confusing, so don’t be shy. Your life and dreams are important, which means they are important enough to get right, so go ahead and call the college to ask for clarification.
Aside from that, these are the important parts of the application:
1. All colleges want to see excellent grades in a strong academic program and good-to-excellent board (and/or TOEFL) scores.
2. Many colleges also want to see evidence of leadership in an applicant’s extracurricular activities.
3. However, if the college you are applying to places emphasis on the essay and/or letters of recommendation, you should pay very close attention to what they want to see in the essay and the letters of recommendation.
4. You may also include a letter with your application that provides an honest and legitimate explanation for weaknesses or inconsistencies in your academic record; don’t include this information in your essay
5. Any clarifications of identity (names, similar social security numbers such as twins might have, etc.)
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.
Remember that the application is usually the only part of the admissions process over which you have complete control. Once it’s gone off to the colleges, what happens next is out of your hands. Be sure your application is an honest and thoughtful reflection of who you are and who you’d like to be, the let the rest of the process take care of itself.
I am answering this from the perspective of a college advisor rather than an admissions officer in a college/university.
Since the focus will differ from one institution to another, I would suggest that you consider each component of the application as “the most important” as you work on it. Make sure that all of the information you enter is accurate, neat, and legible.
All components of the application are of consequence and should be completed with much thought and care. Many of the sections will simply be a listing of factual information – activities, test scores, grades, etc. It is, of course, to your advantage if your test scores and grades are as strong as possible, so commit to doing your best in your high school classes and prepare for the standardized tests, as needed. Commitment to relevant extracurricular activities is also important.
Not all colleges/universities require essays, but for the ones which do, this may be the most outstanding part of your application because, in the essay, you can let the admissions officers “meet” the real you – not just see a list of facts and figures. Think carefully about the focus of your essay and spend time formulating it in an interesting way, taking care to edit for correct sentence structures and spelling. Remember that the admissions officers may be reading thousands of essays, so you don’t want to confuse them or, worse yet, put them to sleep! Consider how you can make your essay stand out positively.
Other important parts of the application which expand on the “facts and figures” are the Guidance Counselor and teacher recommendations. Get to know your Guidance Counselor and teachers and ensure, by the way you approach your academic and extracurricular life, that it will be easy for them to describe you positively and convincingly. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for a recommendation. You will want to give those writing the recommendations time to develop an effective portrayal of you.
The application, in short, is a way of packaging in a condensed form what you’ve accomplished during your years in high school. Make sure that there is good content to put into the package!
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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