What Colleges Are Looking For in Students
Different colleges look for different criteria in terms of admission and scholarships. As a general rule of thumb, however, colleges are looking at the following items…
- Grade point average (GPA). It is important for students to know that their grade point averages are one of the most important things that four-year colleges consider. Some colleges will only look at your grades in your core classes. Others, like Missouri State, will look at your cumulative GPA, meaning your average GPA in all your classes from freshman to senior year. In addition, some colleges, like Missouri State, will take into consideration your weighted GPA if you are taking honors or AP classes; others will only look at your unweighted GPA. To be on the safe side, keep those grades high starting in your 9th grade year and check to see how the college you want to attend looks at your GPA.
- Class ranking. Many colleges will also look at students’ class rankings—if their high schools provide such information. Talk with your high school counselors to see whether or not your school ranks.
- Test Scores (ACT/SAT). Many four-year colleges require that students take a college entrance exam such as the ACT or SAT. Scores are often used both for admission and scholarship purposes. We suggest that you talk with the colleges you are interested in attending to see which college entrance exam they prefer and if there is a minimum score required. Also, take these tests early and often while you are in high school so you allow time to achieve your best score.
- Core curriculum classes. Most four-year colleges require that students take a certain set of core curriculum classes while in high school in order to be admitted to the university. It is important for students to take the “college prep” courses in high school and to talk with the college they are interested in attending in order to make sure they will meet the core curriculum requirements. Visit the Freshman Admission Requirements page to see the core curriculum classes Missouri State requires.
- Student involvement. Student involvement is a great asset for scholarship applications. It is important for you to get engaged with student clubs at your high school or with groups within your community so that you can gain valuable skills and experiences to boost your résumé.
- Deadlines. Colleges want students who meet deadlines for admission and scholarships. Be sure and check deadlines with the colleges you are interested in attending so that you don’t miss out on opportunities to succeed.