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Good grades and high test scores are no guarantee that you will get in to the college of your choice. Every school has its own selection criteria to determine who they think will be a good fit. Before you apply, find out what characteristics your college may look for in potential students so you can better position your application to stand out.

While there is not a universal formula that college admissions' committees use to review applicants, here are some factors that may be considered during the review process:


Many schools strive to create a diverse student population that reflects today's society. Students from out-of-state, minority students or prospects with high financial need may be sought after to help the school round out their student body.

High School achievement

In addition to your GPA and standardized test scores, schools will consider participation in honors and AP classes. Colleges may also want see that you've taken specific courses that are directly related to your intended major.

Essays, personal statements and recommendations

Admissions committees rely on essays, personal statements and letters of recommendation to get a better idea of who you are and how you will fit in at their school. These can also provide context for your academic performance, and insight into any personal or academic issues that may have affected your studies.

Special talents and extracurricular activities

Highlighting participation in outside activities, whether they be sports, music or a particular club, may give you an edge over another applicant in the admissions process.

Other considerations

If members of the Admissions Committee are undecided about a particular applicant, a recommendation letter from someone influential or legacy connections, can also factor into how an application is reviewed.

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