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.
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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

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    1. Purdue University Global

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      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
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      • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
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      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
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    2. Full Sail University

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    3. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
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    4. Georgetown University

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      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
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    5. Saint Leo University

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      • DCJ: Education
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    6. Independence University

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    7. The George Washington University

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    8. Tulane University

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      • Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management
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    10. Colorado Christian University

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Featured Schools

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?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • AS - Cloud Technologies
  • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Georgetown University

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

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Leo University

  • DCJ: Education
  • DBA: Business Administration
  • MEd: Exceptional Student Education
  • MS: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Independence University

  • Health Administration (MS)
  • Accounting (BS)
  • Business (AAS)

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Tulane University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management
  • Master of Professional Studies in Information Technology Management

What is your highest level of education completed?