While published last year, this post got a slew of views and a few comments, so back to the top it goes:
As an admissions officer, I love hearing about all the SECRET WAYS TO GET INTO COLLEGE. These generally focus on some lame way to send your application, or some special club you can join, or worst of all some company that you pay a fortune. There’s never any evidence that any of that works, other than a story about somebody who got in at some point by sending in their application that way, joining that club, or forking over that fortune.
The reality, unfortunately, is really boring. Here it is (you might want to sit down for this): It’s all about your grades.
That’s really about it…except that when I say “grades” I really mean your whole academic record. To start with, colleges are much more interested in grades in your core academic courses: Math, science, English, social studies, and/or foreign language. Every time I say that someone asks, “but what about band.” I usually say, yeah, maybe, if you’re seeking admission to a music conservatory…but mostly it’s the core academic courses. Usually the same kid (or more often, parent) jumps up and says, “but it’s HONORS band!” Yes, I get it, and no I’m not picking on band, since the question is just as often about debate, art, or a few dozen other courses that I’m sure are very rewarding and interesting. What they aren’t is your core academic courses, which is what admissions offices use. (Updated note: when I originally posted this I got some nifty hate mail from band members – that’s not the term I used, but whatever. For the record – I was in bands, lots of bands. Played the drums. Marched in the Macy’s Parade, won some trophies. Clearly, I’m not hating on band – but, also for the record, that doesn’t mean I don’t think having classes in Band labled “Honors” – and even worse given extra weighting on the grading scale – isn’t silly. Let the new round of messages from angry band members begin!)
To get an idea of your overall academic potential, still generally focusing on those core subjects, we look at trends in your grades (up is better, although best of course is to have stayed up all the way through), the quality of your courses, where you rank, the quality of your high school, etc. etc. All of that is factored, to one degree or another, by admissions officers to get an idea of what kind of student you are, and likely will be in college. That evaluation accounts for the VAST majority of your admission decision.
Of course we know that not all grades/high schools/courses are the same, so I’ll go into detail about that in a few days (or so). Be seeing you.
Filed under: Admissions, Applications, College, College Admissions, Education, Family, GPA, Grades, High School, Life, Parents, University | Tagged: admission, College, Education, GPA, Grades, Life, University |