What Do College Admissions Officers Look for in an Applicant?

college_applications_review_Dr_Paul Lowe_Admissions_officers

To answer this question, let’s first start with an admissions officer survey by National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

I.  NACAC factors:

  • Grades in All Courses
  • Grades in College Prep Courses
  • Admissions Test Scores (SAT, ACT)
  • Rigor/Strength of Curriculum
  • Essay or Writing Sample
  • Counselor Letters of Recommendations
  • Teacher Letters of Recommendations
  • Student’s Demonstrated Interest
  • Class Rank
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Subject Test Scores (AP, IB)
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Work Experience
  • State Graduation Exam Scores

II.  Intangibles

Based on my professional experience, connected with visiting colleges and discussions with directors of admissions, there are other factors which we know are just as important and, in some cases, more important than the NACAC Admissions Survey Factors:

  • College application
  • Personal Statement
  • Supplemental essays
  • Collective interrelationship of all essays
  • WOW Factor
  • Attitude
  • Likability
  • Etiquette
  • Character
  • Grit/Challenge
  • Confidence
  • Charisma
  • Sense of self
  • Sense of others
  • Engagement
  • The unsaid
  • Conversational Intelligence
  • Cadence
  • Transparency
  • Cultural Intelligence
  • Cultural Agility
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Uniqueness
  • Diversity/Inclusion
  • Family background
  • Comparative Student Profile Analysis

If you think that getting into your top-choice college is just about having a high GPA, top SAT scores, high grades and a manufactured application and personal statement….THINK AGAIN!    

This past year, I received calls and emails from parents whose children were rejected from all colleges to which they applied because they thought the college admissions race was just about grades, SAT scores, their perceived ‘unique’ applications, generic essays and perfect connections. 

Here are some actual cases (based on phone calls from disappointed parents).

1. Case one:  One student applied to 19 schools (including all the Ivies) and was rejected from 18 schools and waitlisted at local state school where the acceptance rate was 65%.

2. Case two: A suburban public high school in the Northeast where no one (not even the valedictorian) was accepted to the Ivies or BS/MD programs.

3. Case three: Valedictorian (SAT 1580, ACT 36, GPA 4.6 weighted, President and cofounder of non-profit, tutored students, volunteered, shadowed multiple physicians, published two research papers, Science Olympiad, President of Debate team, tennis) – rejected from all Ivy League and BS/MD programs.

4 . Case four: A public high school in Texas. Of the fifteen students who applied to BS/MD programs …ALL were rejected.

Ivy League and highly selective colleges and BS/MD programs use a holistic approach when evaluating applicants for admission.  That means admission to these colleges is not based on a simple formula of grades and test scores.  Instead, they consider a variety of factors: the student’s academic record, extracurricular interests, intellectual achievements and personal background to decide who will be rejected or accepted.

We understand the holistic approach and prepare our clients using our strategies for admissions success accordingly!

This year, several of our clients were accepted to multiple Ivies and multiple BS/MD programs!

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions Advisors