Colleges and universities have certain things they use to make their enrollment decisions
Most colleges and universities look for pretty much the same thing when it comes to admissions and enrollment. Only those really small private schools, or the ivy league schools require additional things, but you can pretty much follow this C.R.I.T.E.R.I.A. for your college preparation. This is a general to help you get prepared.
You need to contact your college of choice to find out exactly what it takes to get accepted. Or if you have more than one college you are looking at right now, make sure you get info from each. All it takes is you picking up the phone, or going online and asking these college admissions departments to call you. Then ask them any question you want:
The main question you should ask is:
What are the requirements to be accepted into your school, or the program I am interested in?
Check out this C.R.I.T.E.R.I.A. below as a start to your college search and selection. Be prepared:
C areer choice- what career have you selected? Or have you? In fact, if you are a high school senior, you should be thinking about at least three options for your career choice. This just helps you to make the right college choice too. You shouldn’t go to a college that does not carry the degree or major you’re interested in. Some of my past posts have specifically touched on HOW to make the right career choices.
R ank in class– this won’t make or break you. It’s not like if you are not top 10 percent of your class rank then you wouldn’t get accepted. This might be part of some colleges final decision-making, but not for most of them. They just use this as a part of their criteria to look at. BUT, if you are ranked pretty high up there, you MUST brag about it. You should know by now if you will rank at the top percentage of your class or if you are valedictorian or salutatorian. If you are, mention this in your interview and application.
I nterests- what are you looking for in a college? If you could list the top ten things you want out of college, after you graduate, what would those be? College is truly the best years of your life and you should make sure that is accomplished…and that the college of your choice can provide all (or most) of what you are interested in.
T est scores- Obviously right? I dislike tests as much as many of you, but this is important to many schools. Mostly public colleges and universities, as well as private schools ask for SAT or ACT test scores. Collegeboard.com is one of my favorite sites. It has some great information about both of these tests, as well as where, how and when to schedule to take these tests. Or find out from your guidance counselor when the test dates are. As a high school senior, you should have taken these tests by now, If you did not do well, or if you want to improve your score, please take it again. It’s well worth it. Colleges will ask for, or receive whatever of these tests they require (if not both). Some of them adjust their requirements so you have to check. For those of you (me included) that did not do well enough on these tests, have no fear, You might get into that college you hoped, but if you start at a junior college or community college, for maybe a year or two, then you can transfer into that college you wanted originally. Don’t let this stop you or get you down. Many of us do it and it ends up being a little easier and less stressful. Don’t worry if you did not do well…keep trying and don’t ever, ever give up.
E ssays- many colleges ask for this as a regular part of their application process. Almost ALL of them ask you for at least a paragraph or two about why you want to attend that college, and what you intend t do with whatever education or degree you earn. Be ready for this and prepare your response. You can sue the same one for each school depending on your degree. Some schools ask for an essay as a serious part of their decision-making process, especially if it is between you and a few other students that might be competing for the same seat you are. So make this good.
R ecommendations- don’t burn your bridges. As a senior, you are ready to leave that high school and never look back, but some of those advisors, administrator and teachers might be your best advocate when trying to get into a college. Especially those with whom you spend most of your time. If you have a coach, teacher or advisor that you are particularly close with, ask them for a recommendation if you need one. Don’t have them write a letter now, just get their contact info. in case you do need them to write a recommendation letter for you. Some colleges ask for this, but not all.
I nterviews- this has become a big part of the admissions process. They want to meet you and get to know you a little so they can help you make the best choices. Listen to them, but ask every question that comes to mind. I’ll be posting questions that you can ask your admissions rep during this interview as well. But be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your future goals. Treat this like a job interview. I’ve sat in on interviews when the prospective student was barely awake and looked like they rolled right out of bed. That won’t change the decision, but it does make an impression, so be vigilant of this. The interview should be treated like a job interview.
A cademic performance- keep up with your grades. If you are as senior at this point of the year, you need to make sure you are performing your best so you can increase that GPA a little more. Colleges look at academic performance when they are making decisions. The might consider your lower SAT/ACT test scores, but when they look at your transcripts, they might put that into consideration. Check out your transcripts and see where you stand, GPA and grade-wise. One little thing that goes wrong can make a huge difference in your GPA and at this time of year, you should keep an eye out for that.
This C.R.I.T.E.R.I.A. is important for you to keep in your files. It helps you to make a quick decision about colleges and to be better prepared. Look for future posts about specifically what to ask your admissions reps, and what to do during a college fair. This is the time for you to take charge and take ownership in your future.
Your Success is My Success,
I’m a careers and college recruiter, coach, public speaker and leader at The Career Closet. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people who need it upon their search for the right career and college
- Your Four-Year College Planning Calendar (education.com)
- What College Admissions Officers Look For: Importance of Standardized Tests (education.com)