The College Application – It’s not only about GPA & Test Scores

To help parents understand these changes and how they affect the college application process, Curvebreakers presents this third installment in our 3-part College Application Series:

The College Application – It’s not all about GPA & Test Scores

In Part 1 & 2, we discussed that SAT/ACT scores and GPA together make up approximately 60% of college’s acceptance decisions, which still leaves us with 40% remaining. That’s a huge portion, and it means there are significant parts of the college application that should not be overlooked. We’ll take a look at each section in the chart below and tell you what you need to know.

The Common Application Essay – 15%
This is how you show potential universities what you are all about. Tell schools about your passions, your motivations, your loves, your fears, and your life. This may be the most important part of your application besides the numbers. Many students struggle to hit the right tone here, so the advice of experts in this process can truly increase your chances of admission and help you put your best foot forward. Schools are looking to view a slice of your life from your own perspective. Be honest.

Supplemental Materials – 9%
Believe it or not, some students will have to write 20+ supplemental essays. Even mid-tier colleges ask for supplemental essays, some of which are very difficult. Do not overlook the importance of telling a school “why” you want to go there. With the increasing importance of demonstrated interest, these supplemental essays are another way to prove that you really care.

Demonstrated Interest – 6%
Demonstrated interest is the idea that students must show that they will attend a school if selected for admission. Yield rate, or the percentage of students that attend after acceptance, is one of the factors considered in US News and World Report rankings. Because of this important metric, schools want to be as certain as possible that the students accepted will attend. By demonstrating your interest in a school (calling for information, visiting, following up, reading emails, visiting web pages, and more) you will prove to be a better candidate. Don’t miss out on the intricate details of demonstrating interest in the digital age.

Course Rigor – 6%
Having a high GPA is great, but all colleges know that GPAs are more inflated now than ever before. They also know that many schools have both weighted and unweighted GPAs. Bolster your application by taking the rigorous courses your school provides – but make sure to strike a balance and not tank your GPA.

Recommendations – 2%
This one may be a shocker for parents who last applied for college prior to 2000: Recommendations have lost value to schools, mostly because they are self-serving and usually requested from the teachers that a student knows will write positive comments. Instead, schools have shifted their focus to a student’s demonstrated interest. Because of the sheer volume of recommendations included in the thousands of applications submitted to larger schools, it may not be worth the effort and some schools don’t even consider them. There is one exception, however. Smaller colleges are still likely to weigh their decision more heavily on recommendations.

Intangibles – 2%
Lastly, there may be something that allows you to make a special connection with a school that strikes a chord with an admissions counselor. Whenever possible, try to make personal connections with the school and emphasize the things about you that make you unique.

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