Admissions: How Colleges Select Students

About this article
With the number of people wanting to attend college on the rise, schools are becoming more selective in whom they accept. This article contains information that introduces you, the potential student, to the college selection process.
View available schools

Admission officers evaluate applications in several different ways, depending on how competitive their college is. In terms of selectivity, colleges and universities fall into three basic categories:

  1. Less Selective
  2. More Selective
  3. Very Selective

Less Selective Colleges:

Less selective colleges usually determine your acceptance by posing two questions: have you met the college's basic requirements and does the college itself have availability? While not required for admission, ACT and/or SAT scores may be used for placement.

More Selective Colleges:

More selective colleges, which is the category most colleges fit into, have stricter standards. These colleges and universities look at the following:

  • Admission Test (ACT/SAT) Scores
  • Course Work
  • Grades
  • Letters of Recommendations (if requested)
  • Personal Statements/Essays

Very Selective Colleges:

Finally, very selective colleges evaluate students on all above-named criteria and more. Very selective colleges scrutinize every aspect of a student's high school experience. Many applicants that apply to very selective schools are already strong academically, thus factor such as your personal statement and transcript are critical.

In normal situations admission officers will follow what is called a need-blind admission policy. In other words, yours and your family's income is not a factor in determining whether you are accepted or not. In some cases, admissions officers are 'need conscious,' so at these schools you and your family's income is a factor.

Collegeboard.com states that selective colleges consider these factors for admission:

  • Admission Test (ACT/SAT) Scores
  • Alumni Relationship
  • Application Questions and Essays
  • Completed Courses
  • Counselor and/or Teacher Recommendations
  • Ethnicity
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Geographic Location
  • Grades
  • Grade Point Average
  • Major and/or College Chosen
  • Personal Interview
  • Rank in Graduating Class
  • Special Talents and Skills

Now that you have a better idea of what colleges are looking for, you will be able to meet these prerequisites with confidence.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA: Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management: Entrepreneurial Studies Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • Bachelor: Health Care Management
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master : Business Admin
      • Master of Public Health
      • MBA: Human Resources
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Accounting
      • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
    Certificate
      • Medical Assisting Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
      • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
      • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice - Policing
    Master's
      • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • M.Ed. - General Education
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
      • Master of Legal Studies
      • MPA - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Columbia Southern University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Administration
    Master's
      • MBA - Finance
      • MBA - General
      • MBA - Health Care Management
      • MBA - Human Resource Management
      • MBA - Marketing
      • MBA - Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Psychology
      • BS - Business Administration
      • BS - Criminal Justice Admin.
      • BS - Criminal Justice Admin./Arson Investigation
      • BS - Human Resource Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
    Associate's
      • AS - Business
      • AS - Criminal Justice
      • AA - General Studies
      • AS - Health Information Science
      • AS - Health Information Science Med. Coding Emph
      • AS - Fire Science
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Finance
      • Graduate Certificate - Health Care Management
      • Graduate Certificate - Human Resource Management
      • Graduate Certificate - Marketing
      • Graduate Certificate - Project Management
      • Graduate Certificate - Public Administration
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
      • MS - Game Design (Campus)
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
      • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
      • BS - Information Technology Bachelors (Campus)
      • BS - Creative Writing Bachelors (Campus)
      • BS - Film (Campus)
      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
      • Master of Project Management
      • Master of Finance
      • Master of Professional Accounting
      • Master - Information Technology Management
      • Master - Human Resource Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Computer Science
      • BS - Human Services
      • BS - Accounting
      • BS - Project Management
      • BS - Marketing
      • BS - Finance
    Certificate
      • Undergraduate Certificate - Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts
      • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ph.D. in Communication
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision
      • Ph.D. in Education
      • Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
      • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies
    Master's
      • M.A. in Communication
      • M.A. in Journalism
      • M.A. in Business & Design Management
      • M.Ed. - Individualized Degree Program
      • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction
    Bachelor's
      • B.A. in Communication
      • B.A. in Communication Studies - Journalism
      • B.A. in Communication Studies - Organizational Communication
      • B.A. in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
      • B.A. in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
      • B.A. in English - Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Performance Psychology
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
      • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
      • Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
    Master's
      • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities (ITL)
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities (NITL)
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in STEM (ITL)
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Psychology
      • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
      • Bachelor: Business Admin
      • Bachelor: Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma

Featured Schools

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
  • AASBA in Business
  • Medical Assisting Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business

What is your highest level of education?

Columbia Southern University

  • Doctor of Business Administration
  • MBA - Finance
  • BS - Psychology
  • AS - Business
  • Graduate Certificate - Finance

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • Bachelor of Science - Software Development

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • BS - Computer Science
  • Undergraduate Certificate - Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Central Christian College of Kansas

  • Associate of Arts
  • AA in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Ph.D. in Communication
  • M.A. in Communication
  • B.A. in Communication

What is your highest level of education completed?