Discover Student Loans
Discover Student Loans

Secure Account Login

Forgot User ID / Password? Register Now .

You've applied to college and are now waiting for the letter in the mail that notifies you if you have been accepted. Before you even apply to the college(s) of your choice, it's helpful to understand just how admissions decisions are made.

Unfortunately, there is no universal admissions process. Every school has their own criteria, timeline and process to determine who will be admitted. While there is no one formula, admission committees may consider the following when looking at student candidates:

State of Residence

Schools look for geographic diversity. If a majority of students attend from a particular state and you reside in a different state, your student's chances of admittance may increase.


If you or other family members graduated from the school your child is applying to, this can be looked upon favorably in the admissions process.

Special Talents and Extracurricular Activities

Schools don't just look at a student's grades or test scores. If your student excels in sports, music or another area, or has participated in outside activities, your child may have a competitive edge in the admissions process.

Special Cases

A recommendation from a college president or a person within an influential position may play a role in how an application is reviewed.

Financial Need

Depending on the school, admissions decisions are separate from financial aid decisions. However, that is not the case with all schools. Financial need can influence an admission decision, especially if the student is not academically strong. Strong academics and special talents may help position a child for financial aid.

Most admissions committees look for well-rounded students who do well academically and participate in extracurricular activities. Even if your child's academic scores are not strong, the personal essay is a way to highlight their other strengths and help differentiate themselves from other applicants.

More to Explore

Computer Science - College Majors
College Majors

Computer Science as a Major

Computer science majors study how computers process, store and solve information. Learn more about this expanding college major, including potential career paths, knowledge requirements and more.

Law Degree - College Majors
College Majors


Considering a career in law? Find need-to-know information on pre law requirements, salary expectations and the steps to becoming a lawyer with help from Discover Student Loans.

Pharmacology - College Majors
College Majors

What is Pharmacology?

Pharmacology majors study the effect drugs have on the human body. Learn more about pharmacology as a major and potential professions with help from Discover Student Loans.

Nursing - College Majors
College Majors


Nursing is one-on-one patient care within the healthcare field. Learn more about nursing majors to see if this college degree is right for you.

Advertising and Marketing - College Majors
College Majors

Advertising and Marketing

Advertising and marketing is for people who have writing and creative skills and can work well in teams. Learn more about this fast-paced college major, including potential careers and salary expectations.

Did You Know?

Interested in Private Student Loans?

Learn More