What Colleges Look for in an Application


David Vavrinak, Junior Staff Writer

As a lot of students go through high school, the majority are thinking about their future, and for many of them, the future may include college. Before a student is able to further his or her education; however, he or she must apply for a college or multiple colleges.  In regards to this, there is a very important question to know the answer to before filling out an application: What do colleges look for on an application?  In a recent interview between the school guidance counselor, Traci Hill, and myself, this question was discussed.

What I learned during this interview was that appearance matters a lot when a college looks over applications. “The first thing they look for is completion and accuracy,” says Mrs. Hill. “Make sure that every question is answered, and if they ask if you’ve been to any previous University, and you haven’t, make sure to write ‘no,’ or use the ‘N/A’ option (if available.) Never leave something blank.” She also warns to make sure that the application is “legible; It’s an official document and should be written in dark blue or black ink.” It should also be copied before being submitted to the school.  The counselor also states that the applicant should watch for any unnecessary mistakes. “Every so often, I receive an application that gives the present day’s date when what the application asks for is the student’s birthday.”

Aside from the appearance of the application, colleges will also inquire about a student’s education. “Local state schools such as YSU offer scholarships based on ACT scores and GPA, while bigger state schools or Ivy League schools require specific test scores and GPA’s that are generally much higher.” Mrs. Hill also informed me that most colleges also offer athletic scholarships. “If you play any sport, see what the college can do for you, most colleges will work with you to get you the best opportunity possible,” she commented.

I then inquired about Ivy League schools, and asked if they were even worth the time of application. However, Mrs. Hill recommends applying for these colleges. “These colleges have a very limited admittance rate, but if they have room for [for example] 2,000 students, and only admit 1,600, they will fill the extra spots.” One thing that may help a student fill these spots is to push him or her self when choosing classes, but not too hard. “If you have a 4.0 GPA in all CP courses, they’re going to question you as to why you didn’t attempt an honor’s or AP course,” she said. A 4.0 GPA in AP classes will get one of the spots over a 4.0 in honors’ classes, which will get the spot over a 4.0 in CP classes. Another main component at which they look is how active a teen is in his or her community or school. “How many clubs you’re in, your sports you play, volunteer work; All of these will come into consideration when your application is being looked at,” explained Mrs. Hill.

Overall, high school is the most important time to decide one’s future. Should one try his or her best in hopes of succeeding? Or should one take the easy road and slack off, simply coasting through senior year? Colleges will take every detail into consideration when admitting students. So here’s one word of advice: make sure your application is complete, accurate and legible, and try to push yourself throughout your high school years.