What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

Pam Proctor
Author The College Hook

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

Here is my video response to the question.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

A meaningful education earned in an unconventional manner

On May 28, 2009, eleven years after she began her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, 41 year old Cathy Watkins delivered the valedictorian speech to her fellow classmates. Watkin’s classmates are also her fellow inmates at a maximum security state prison for women. In her speech, she reminded her audience that, “Even though these walls can restrict our physical movement, they cannot restrict our imagination, nor our connection to the outside world.” While many students graduating from college this year may not know what the future holds, Watkins and many of her classmates who graduated from the Marymount Manhattan College program with bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and high school equivalency diplomas know that their future will play out within prison walls. The question is simply how they will stimulate their intellect. For those who return to the outside world, there is promise. According to Marymount Manhattan’s president, Judson R. Shaver, the relapse rate for women who have been through the program is zero.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

Strong grades in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. After these first major academic requirements, then it depends on the mission and needs of each college. Certain schools may use the SAT scores in considering candidates, other schools are test-optional. Some schools weigh extracurricular interests and leadership potential more heavily than recommendations and essays. For other colleges, the essay plays an important role. Some admission offices utilize the evaluations from interviews while others consider the interviews to be informative rather than evaluative. Each admissions office has its own mandate and requirements.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Schools Are Looking to Fill a Need-Where Do You Fit In?

A fundamental truth of the admissions process is that schools’ decisions depend as much on their institutional needs as on an applicant’s record. Admissions professionals at each school are building communities--educational communities--but they are looking at education in the broadest sense. Consequently, while academics are a critical component, more central to the decision making is what an applicant will bring to the community. Every applicant need not have a special talent, an all-around good guy is important, as is a great academic record, but applicants must recognize that they are pieces in puzzles being assembled by admissions offices across the country.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener University

the List

GPA Test Scores High School course Rigor Extra-Curriculars Essay Letters of Recommendations These are a few of the things. If an office brings you in for an interview, then we want to see that you can form clear and concise thoughts. We want to see a level of maturity, and we are looking for intellectual originality.

Calli Christenson
Director CLC College Prep Services

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

More than anything else, admissions officers are looking for student who will be a good fit for their university. They are looking for applicants who, not only represent themselves well, but represent the college in a very positive light, as well. This is why it is important to be genuine and truly yourself as you apply to schools. Put your best foot forward, but remember that it is most important to be yourself. Every college is looking for something a little different.

Eric Beers, Ph.D.
College and Career Counselor Air Academy High School

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

The biggest factor they look at is: Is this student academically prepared to be successful at our college/university. So you can show that by classes you've taken, grades in those classes, ACT/SAT tests, and letter of recommendation from teachers. Admissions officers are also looking for student who get involved and are engaged in their community. Well-rounded students have a much better chance of acceptance than "flat" students. Clubs, activities, community service, athletics, employment, leadership, and other hobbies are all ways to show multiple sides of you. If there isn't an "organized activity" that you are wanting, innovation (creating your club or activity) is a huge asset to your application.

Janet Elfers

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

They want a student who will be successful, interested, focused, and engaging in college classes. They want a student who has the will to work hard and do his/her best. They want someone who will contribute to the college community in a positive way. If you can show admission officers that you have these qualities, they will be more likely to offer you admission.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

Having acceptable #'s, a successful interview, has had correspondence with admissions personnel or the Provost or has met them personally. Going out of your way to impress upon them that you want that precious, all-important admission ticket!

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

Admissions officers are looking for students that will best thrive and contribute to the unique milieu at their college. Specifically strong grades in a rigorous curriculum along with strong standardized test scores are seen first. Then they look for well written and thoughtful essays, leadership in a community, athletic or artistic talent, and desire to attend. Basically, almost everything that makes ones a good friend, citizen, and person also makes them attractive to an admissions officer.