A Winning Application
Even though all colleges request the same type of applications information, it doesn't mean they all evaluate your application the same way. You need to find the college that has the same admissions requirements as you have talents. And your job is to make sure your applications package highlights your talents!
Minimum Admissions Criteria
While all colleges require certain grade point averages and test scores, each college doesn't necessarily have the exact same minimum requirements for acceptance. Some college programs will require certain math courses, while others won't; some college will require a minimum GPA of 75%, while others will be higher or lower; and some colleges will require a minimum SAT score of 600, while others will be higher or lower. You need not apply to any colleges that you don't, at the very least, meet their minimum requirements.
Exceeding Admissions Requirements
But meeting the minimum admissions requirements usually isn't good enough. Many colleges receive many more applicants than they have space and must be selective. Therefore, to select the best applicants from year to year, most colleges have "actual" GPA and test scores that applicants must meet which are above their minimum requirements. Knowing the "actual" requirements is just as important as knowing the minimum requirements.
The Freshman Profile
Most colleges will publish information on their freshman class from the previous year. This includes the actual GPA and test scores the college used in the previous year for applicants and the overall averages of the freshmen class. This is also useful information to find out before you apply to a college to make sure your application will be competitive.
The Importance of Courses
There are three important characteristics to keep in mind for courses. The most obvious are the courses you are taking and how many years you have been taking them. This primarily relates to core classes such as English, Math, Social Science, Natural Science and Languages. Make sure you are taking the courses that are required for admission to the colleges you will be applying to. The second characteristic is what level of courses are you taking. The higher your level or strength of course, the more impressive your qualifications. And finally, what grades, or Grade Point Average (GPA), did you earn from these courses. Keep in mind, earning a lower GPA on higher level courses is more impressive than a higher GPA on less demanding courses.
But It's Not All Numbers
While you need to be aware of these admissions requirements, you have more to offer! Each applicant brings a unique set of skills, experiences and outlook which many colleges value. This is where you talk about your personal accomplishments, sports and clubs you belong to, travel you've done abroad, volunteer and paid work you performed, and any other specialty you possess. You need to demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual, and highlight these talents in your personal essay and during the interview.
Colleges are looking for bright, talented students who will contribute to their college.