Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2014 Top 12 Strengths & Experiences Colleges Look for in High School Students

The Independent Educational Consultants Association, IECA, today released the results of its annual survey of college admissions officers and professionals aimed at helping make the admissions process more transparent for students and families. The list is in keeping with the advice I give my clients: Work hard in rigorous classes (but don't fall prey to the "8 AP courses" insanity); pursue a few activities passionately and pursue leadership opportunities in those activities; be curious about life and learning; form connections with teachers who can speak to your strengths, challenges and intellectual curiosity in recommendation letters; write an honest, intriguing, kick-ass essay that no one else could ever have written; and don't be afraid to let colleges know how much you'd like to be part of their community.

In this morning's Webinar for IECA members to learn the details of the survey, some interesting new points were also made. For example:

Legacy is less important in admissions than it has ever been before. Even if your parents, your uncles, your aunts and 15 cousins all attended University of X, it won't get you in unless the colleges feels you are are good match for them and they are a good match for you.

Social media and electronic communication are viable ways to demonstrate your interest in a college. You might not be able to visit a campus or meet with an admissions rep in your area, but everyone can like their top colleges on Facebook and take the time to open the emails they send you. The downside of social media and college admissions has been highlighted in recent years, but apparently there is also an upside: They may be watching when you post unsavory photos of a keg party on your page, but they're also watching when you give them a "thumbs up".

Colleges are more interested than ever in your intellectual curiosity. Take every opportunity to show them the genuine interests and ideas that turn you on. Show them what inspires you by committing to related activities in depth and over time, by addressing interests in your essays, and by asking teacher and counselor recommenders to make this topic an element of their letters (assuming you have real, live intellectual curiosity for them to talk about).

See what else colleges and admissions professionals from around the world had to say:

2014 Top 12 Strengths & Experiences Colleges Look for In High School Students