Admissions: How Colleges Select Students

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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.
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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. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies
      • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Biblical Counseling
      • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Grief Counseling
      • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Human Services Counseling
      • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Human Services/Student Affairs
      • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - International
    Master's
      • Master of Divinity - Interdisciplinary Studies
      • Master of Divinity - Old Testament
      • Master of Divinity - Christian Theology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. 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 of Public Health
      • MBA: Human Resources
      • MBA: Health Care Management
    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
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Accounting
      • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
      • AAS in Information Technology - Multiplatform Software Development
    Certificate
      • Medical Assisting 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
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Trident University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
      • Health Sciences (Ph.D.)
      • Doctor of Business Administration
      • Educational Leadership (Ed. D.)
      • Educational Leadership (Ph.D.)
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education
    Bachelor's
      • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
      • Business Administration (BSBA)
      • Human Resources Management (BSHRM)
      • Homeland Security (BSHLS)
      • Information Technology Management (BSITM)
      • Leadership (BSL)
    Associate's
      • Professional Studies (ASPS)
    Certificate
      • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Florida Tech

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master's in Business Administration/Management
      • MA in Organizational Leadership
      • MS in Information Technology/Database Administration
      • Master's in Business Administration
      • Master's in Business Administration/Accounting & Finance
      • Master's in Business Administration/Finance
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
      • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • DBA: Healthcare Management
      • DBA: Marketing
      • DBA: Project Management
      • DBA: Human Resources
    Master's
      • MA: Communication
      • MA: Professional Counseling
      • Master of Arts in Public Policy - Public Administration
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Developmental Psychology
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Industrial Organizational Psychology
      • MA: Human Services Counseling: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Walden University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - General
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - Online Teaching in Higher Education
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation
      • PhD in Education - Learning, Instruction & Innovation
      • PhD in Psychology - Teaching
    Master's
      • MS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12)
      • MS in Education - Self-Designed
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Literacy (Grades PreK-6)
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Mathematics (Grades K-6)
      • MS in Education - Mathematics & Science (Grades K-8)
      • MS in Education - Mathematics (Grades 5-8)
  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. The Chicago School

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ed.D. Educational Psychology and Technology
      • Ph.D. Business Psychology, Consulting Track
      • Ph.D. Business Psychology, I/O Track
      • Ph.D. International Psychology
      • Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis
      • Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis, Credential Track
    Master's
      • M.A. Psychology
      • Dual Enrollment: Master of Health Service Administration and Master of Public Health
      • M.A. Behavioral Economics
      • M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
      • M.A. Forensic Psychology
      • M.A. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: ARP Track
    Certificate
      • Certificate in Forensic Psychology - M.A. Non-Licensure Track to Licensure Bridge Program
      • Child and Adolescent Psychology Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis
      • Instructional Design Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Education
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
    Master's
      • MS: Criminal Justice
      • MS: Criminal Justice - Critical Incident Management
      • MS: Criminal Justice - Legal Studies
      • MA: Creative Writing - Fiction
      • MA: Creative Writing - Non-Fiction
      • MAcc: Accounting
    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Liberal Studies
      • BA: Psychology
      • BA: Psychology - General
      • BS: Computer Science
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
      • AA: Liberal Arts
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.Ed. in Educational Administration
      • M.Ed. in Elementary Education
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education
      • M.Ed. in Special Education: Cross-Categorical
      • M.Ed. in Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education-ITL
      • M.A. in English with an Emphasis in Education
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
      • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
      • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education
      • Bachelor of Arts in History for Secondary Education (ITL)
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in English as a Second Language

Featured Schools

Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies
  • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Biblical Counseling
  • Master of Divinity - Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Master of Divinity - Old Testament

What is your highest level of education completed?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Medical Assisting Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Trident University

  • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
  • Master of Arts in Education
  • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
  • Professional Studies (ASPS)
  • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing

What is your highest level of education completed?

Florida Tech

  • Master's in Business Administration/Management
  • MA in Organizational Leadership
  • MS in Information Technology/Database Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Liberty University

  • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
  • MA: Communication
  • MA: Professional Counseling

What is your highest level of education?

Walden University

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - General
  • MS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12)
  • MS in Education - Self-Designed

What is your highest level of education completed?

The Chicago School

  • Ed.D. Educational Psychology and Technology
  • M.A. Psychology
  • Certificate in Forensic Psychology - M.A. Non-Licensure Track to Licensure Bridge Program

What is your highest level of education completed?