You have picked your dream college, but now you have to get in. To do that, you need to submit a stellar application. But what does the school want to see on your admissions application? While many high school students dream of continuing their education, the lack of preparation that occurs in many schools can leave you stranded and unqualified for college. Here are some ideas to help you focus your efforts in the right direction.

Test Scores

Unless the school to which you are applying is test-optional, admissions counselors are looking for applicants with ACT or SAT test scores within the range that they specify for admission. Frequently, the range is similar to what applicants who were admitted in the past earned. Check the school's website to find the range of scores.

Employment and Volunteer History

Have you held a job in the past or done any volunteer work? If so, mention it on your application. Yes, even internships, or jobs such as scooping ice cream or tutoring, count. Colleges want to admit well-rounded students who can take responsibility for their actions, and have experience working with others.

Grade Point Average and Awards

Any school's admissions committee will want to see that you have mastered the skills in high school that you need to succeed in college. One way to do that is to evaluate your grade point average. Many selective schools place a lot of importance on a high GPA. Having one demonstrates that you have achieved at a high level, and are ready for college coursework. Similarly, any awards, such as honor roll, National Merit Scholar recognition, or school certificates can help demonstrate that you are a serious student who is ready to work hard and thrive in college.


Schools hope to find students who can not only succeed academically at institutions but who can make an impact and get involved. List any activities with which you were significantly engaged during high school. Note what you did. For example, if you were on the staff of your school's newspaper, what role did you hold? What were your responsibilities? What did you learn? Perhaps you were a member of a sports team. Talk about the skills you learned from playing, and the way that leadership and teamwork affected you.

Genuine Interest

In general, schools want to admit the applicants who genuinely want to attend. Be honest about why you want to enroll and why you believe you should be admitted. Many schools include an essay question that allows you to address this topic. Just make sure that whatever you say is sincere.

While applications for different colleges vary, keep these tips in mind as you apply to your dream school. Good luck!

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