Top 12 Things Colleges Look For in the College Admissions Decision Process

December 20, 2014 

The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), a professional organization made up of private educational and college admissions consultants, has published a document titled “Top 12 Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for in High School Students.”


A link to the 2014 list, based upon a recent survey of college admissions consultants, can be found at the bottom of this blog post.


A few useful notes about the 2014 Top 12 List

As has been true for more than nine years, a student’s academic performance in high school tops the list. Most important is a rigorous academic curriculum that challenges the student. While grades are important, educational consultants believe that demonstrating a willingness to challenge oneself is more important.

In terms of grades, IECA members felt that grades need to show an upward trend—mediocre grades in the freshman year can be overcome by demonstrating that better grades came with maturity. According to IECA members, colleges want to know what type of student will be arriving on campus—not who the student was four years go.

“Solid SAT or ACT scores,” reflecting a consistency with academic achievement, was number three on the list. IECA members felt that terrific standardized tests are rarely enough to secure admission at a more competitive school, but poor scores can be difficult to overcome.

Finally, according to IECA Executive Director Mark Sklarow, “What we learn most in viewing these results is that students should shy away from efforts to change themselves into what they think colleges seek and learn to promote the best thing about themselves: whether that’s a willingness to challenge themselves in a difficult course, demonstrating passion for a particular subject, committing themselves to community service, or demonstrating leadership. Students should seek to make their application reflect the best of who they already are.”

Top Twelve Strengths and Experiences Colleges Look for in High School Students


Photo by Lou FCD


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