Five Things to Know About Applying to College

Find the right college for you.

1. You can get in. Really.

College admission isn't as competitive as you might think. Fewer than 100 colleges in the U.S. are highly selective, which means they accept less than 25 % of applicants. Close to 500 four-year colleges accept more than 75% of applicants. And open-admission colleges accept all or most high school graduates.

2. It’s about more than test scores.

Colleges care about the work you've done in high school. They look for students who have earned strong grades in challenging courses. They also try to learn about your character by looking at what you do outside the classroom. Take advantage of opportunities like the application essay and college interview to show a more complete picture of who you are.

students in school

3. You're in charge.

This is your future─you're in the driver's seat. Zero in on what's important to you and what you want to get out of the college experience. College planning can feel overwhelming at times, but if you self-manage and keep an eye on your goals, you can make it work.

4. You're unique.

Base your choice on how well a college fits your needs. Don't worry about how it's ranked on a list. Don’t choose a college based on a famous name (e.g., the college itself, an alum, a faculty member). The effort you put in and the opportunities you take advantage of once you get there matter more than the college you attend. Once you graduate from college, your achievements and skills will matter most.

5. You're not in this alone.

Family, teachers, and friends are a great resource. Discuss your plans to go to college with them. Ask them for help and advice. Make an appointment with a school counselor to talk about the application process, colleges that will suit you, and options for financial aid.

What else do you need to know about the college application process?

To learn more about applying to college, read Applying to College: FAQs.

For more about searching for colleges, visit How to Find a College That Fits You.


What does the application process entail?

Going through the application process is an essential step toward college. It determines whether a college will grant a student entry to a specific educational institution. The process involves meeting the institution's predetermined criteria, submitting an application that emphasizes academic and personal achievements, and undergoing a thorough evaluation so the college can see if the applicant possesses the qualities and potential that align with the college’s standards and values.

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What GPA do colleges require for admission?

GPA requirements for college admission depend on the institution and program of study. The minimum GPA requirements differ from college to college. Among other factors, competitiveness, selectivity, and the institution's academic standards can determine the GPA requirement. More selective and higher-ranked institutions have more stringent GPA expectations for admission.

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How do colleges decide who to admit?

When evaluating applicants for admission, colleges take a comprehensive approach. This involves considering multiple factors rather than relying solely on one criterion. These factors commonly include academic performance, extracurricular activities, essays and personal statements, letters of recommendation, and other requirements unique to the institution or program.

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What role do standardized tests play in admission to college?

Standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT, are vital for colleges to assess students' academic abilities. These tests measure a student's knowledge and skills in various subject areas. As part of the evaluation process, colleges may consider test scores alongside other factors like GPA, extracurricular activities, and essays. The importance of standardized testing varies between institutions. Other colleges may have adopted test-optional or test-flexible policies, which gives applicants the freedom to decide whether to submit their test scores.

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