Admission to highly selective schools has become more difficult with each passing year. Every year, well-qualified students are denied admission to the most selective schools. It has become nearly impossible to predict the decision of admission committees. Many books, articles, and essays have been written to try to give some insight to the process.
The goals of the most prestigious schools remain the same. They strive to create a class of students who are bright and can bring something unusual to the school. Some, but not all, of the criteria used are: personal, geographic, and ethnic diversity. Following are some more criteria:
- The high school transcript is very important. Grades and class rank have relevance in the college admission process, as well as the selection of courses. Highly selective colleges want students to take the most rigorous course pattern possible. Schools like to see students stretch themselves by taking Advanced Placement courses whenever possible.
- A student’s transcript is also a determining factor. The transcript is evaluated to see if the student finishes high school on an upward trend.
- Extracurricular activities can influence the college admission process. Your activities should demonstrate your ability to take a leadership role. Colleges are looking for a strong commitment to the activities that the student has chosen.
- Highly selective schools place great emphasis on test scores. Both the ACT and SAT are used to make the decision. A student should take both tests as the formats are different. (The SAT is changing soon and will look more like the ACT). Students sometimes find that they perform better on one test that the other.
- Essays can make the difference between acceptance and rejection. This is the time that the candidate can demonstrate not only his/her writing skills but also give the admission committee the opportunity to have added insight into the candidate.
- Recommendations are a significant part of the college application process. They can often give a different perspective about the candidate and can strengthen an application. The student should give the teacher enough time (2 weeks) and information to write a thoughtful recommendation, by including a resume of pertinent information.
- The most important thing to remember is to meet all deadlines in a timely manner and to give the entire process enough time and energy to present yourself in the best possible manner.