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. 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
    2. Florida Tech

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA in Applied Psychology
      • BA in Business Administration/Management
      • BA in Criminal Justice
      • BA in Accounting
      • BA in Applied Psychology/Child Advocacy
      • BA in Applied Psychology/Clinical Psychology
    Associate's
      • AA in Applied Psychology
      • AA in Criminal Justice
      • AA in Accounting
      • AA in Business Administration
      • AA in Healthcare Management
      • AA in Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. 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 Locations:
    4. Fortis College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate Degree in Nursing
    Certificate
      • Dental Assistant
      • Lab Technician
      • Medical Assistant
      • Medical Assisting
      • Medical Laboratory Technology
      • Medical Office Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. 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 of Science - Business Studies
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Accounting
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Office Admin
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
      • Diploma: Bookkeeping and Payroll Accounting
      • Networking Systems Certificate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. 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 - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • BS - Creative Writing for Entertainment (Campus)
      • BS - Film (Campus)
      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    7. 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.
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
    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
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
      • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision
    Master's
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • M.A. in Reading with an Emphasis in Secondary Education
      • M.Ed. in Early Childhood
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • MS in Nursing: Public Health
    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 of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Business Administration
      • B.A. in Psychology
      • B.S. in Legal Studies
      • B.S. in Business Administration / Accounting
      • B.S. in Finance
      • B.S. in Management / Entrepreneurship
    Associate's
      • A.S. in Criminal Justice
      • A.S. in Legal Studies
      • A.S. in Management
      • A.S. in Accounting
      • A.S. in Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma

Featured Schools

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

  • BA in Applied Psychology
  • BA in Business Administration/Management
  • AA in Applied Psychology
  • AA in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

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?

Fortis College

  • Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Dental Assistant
  • Lab Technician

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

What is your highest level of education?

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?

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?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?