What Colleges Want

Below are some strategies to help you get into the college of your dreams.


  1. Choose wisely. Research the schools you are interested in. Be sure they have your preferred major.
  2. Apply strategically. Apply to reach schools, likely schools, and safety schools. We suggest applying to 3-5 institutions.
  3. Request recommendations (if required) early. Talk to your College Counselor for assistance.
  4. Leadership is better than membership. Quality is better than quantity. Highlight activities where you have displayed leadership and initiative.
  5. Write an irresistible essay. Ensure that your essay topic is something that cannot be found anywhere else on your application.
  6. Aim for perfection. Presentation counts. Let others proofread your work.

What do colleges actually look at?


  1. Your high school curriculum and course rigor.
  2. Your GPA in core classes (e.g. Math, Science, English).
  3. Your ACT scores (unless the institution is test-optional).
  4. Your GPA in non-core classes.
  5. A well-written essay that provides insight into the student’s unique personality, values, and goals.
  6. The demonstration of leadership and initiative and passionate involvement in activities. (Once again, quality over quantity!)
  7. How you and your experience fits in the incoming class of students.
  8. Out-of-school experiences, including work and community service, that illustrate responsibility, dedication and development of areas of interest.
  9. Letters of recommendation. Keep in mind that if a recommendation is not required, it is not scored as part of the admissions process.
  10. Demonstrated enthusiasm towards attending college. This is often exhibited in an interview or a campus visit.

For more information, contact Ms. Kerns (A-K) or Mr. Manning (L-Z). 502-895-9427

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