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

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ed.D in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning - Qualitative Research
      • Ed.D in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning - Quantitative Research
      • Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Performance Psychology (Qualitative Research)
      • Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Performance Psychology (Quantitative Research)
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning
    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
      • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities (ITL)
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Psychology
      • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
      • BA in Digital Film - Screenwriting
      • BA in Digital Film - Production
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Bryant & Stratton College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA - General Management
      • BBA Human Resources Management
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      • BS Human & Social Services
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    Associate's
      • Criminal Justice Studies - AAS
      • AS - Business
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    Certificate
      • Business Assistant Diploma
      • Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma
      • Business - AAS
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  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Education
      • DBA: Business Administration
      • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
    Master's
      • MS: Criminal Justice
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      • MA: Creative Writing - Poetry
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    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Psychology
      • BA: Psychology - General
      • BS: Computer Science
      • BA: Psychology - Experimental
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
      • AA: Business Administration
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  • Online Programs Available
    4. Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters in Psychology
      • Masters in Dispute Resolution
      • Masters in Legal Studies
      • Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Dental Assistant
      • Career Diploma - Motorcycle Repair Technician
      • Career Diploma - Payroll Clerk
      • Career Diploma - Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Truck Maintenance
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      • Career Diploma - Medical Billing and Coding
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
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      • Game Design Masters - Campus
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    Bachelor's
      • Sportscasting Bachelors - Campus
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      • Communications Bachelors with Creative Writing Concentration - Campus
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    Certificate
      • Computer Science Bachelors with AI Concentration - Online
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  • Online Programs Available
    7. Purdue Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • MSN-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
      • Master of Science -DNP Path Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    Master's
      • M.S. in Health Education
      • MSPY - Forensic Psychology
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master : Business Admin
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    Bachelor's
      • BS in Communication
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      • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
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      • BS in Finance
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      • AASBA in Business
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    Certificate
      • Professional Focus + Google Project Management Certificate
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  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DME: Doctor of Music Education
      • LLM: International Legal Studies
      • EDD: Curriculum and Instruction
      • EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Elementary Education
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    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
    Certificate
      • CTG: Communication
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      • CTG: Curriculum and Instruction
      • CTG: Higher Education Administration
      • CTG: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
      • CTG: Psychology
  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

Featured Schools

Grand Canyon University

  • Ed.D in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning - Qualitative Research
  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • BS in Psychology

What is your highest level of education?

Bryant & Stratton College

  • BA - General Management
  • Criminal Justice Studies - AAS
  • Business Assistant Diploma

What is your high school graduation status?

Saint Leo University

  • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Education
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • AA: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology

  • Masters in Psychology
  • Masters in Dispute Resolution
  • Masters in Legal Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Dental Assistant
  • Career Diploma - Motorcycle Repair Technician
  • Career Diploma - Payroll Clerk

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • Sportscasting Bachelors - Campus
  • Computer Science Bachelors with AI Concentration - Online

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • M.S. in Health Education
  • BS in Communication
  • AASBA in Business
  • Professional Focus + Google Project Management Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

What is your highest level of education?