Colleges are most interested in students who have taken challenging courses, achieved consistently high grades, and scored well on the ACT or SAT. Co-curricular activities, leadership experience, special awards/honors, and special talents can be a positive “tip factor”. Pretty much everyone knows this, although many people overvalue the weight of co-curriculars.
Now, here is something most folks do not know (so pay close attention!). Colleges do better in rankings and appear more selective and attractive when they have a high “conversion” rate…the rate (measured in percentage) of admitted students who subsequently enroll. Therefore, colleges frequently consider a student’s likelihood to enroll in the selection process, with those judged to be “highly likely” getting a sometimes significant edge. So how is that knowledge “actionable” for you?
Actually it’s very simple. Colleges judge your interest in them by, among other things, your contacts with them. Contacting a college early in your high school ‘career’ may indicate to them that you have long regarded them as a top choice. Visit the campuses of your top choices…that’s probably the best indicator of interest. If an admissions officer from one of your top choices visits your high school or attends a college fair near you, visit with him or her and express your serious interest in his/her institution. And, of course, get your application for admission and supporting credentials in as early as possible. Finally, respond promptly, as appropriately, to emails and other communications.
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