Esperanza High School

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Applying to College

What do colleges look for?
  • ACADEMIC RECORD: The most important factor college admissions staff will consider is your academic record. They will consider the rigor and variety of the courses you took. They will note the grades you earned in various subjects, your grade point average and your cumulative academic grade point average. Your academic record is almost always the most important factor in college admissions. It is never too late to improve it. Senior year grades are also very important.
 
  • TESTING: SAT and ACT tests are also very important. Before taking the test, most students familiarize themselves with the kinds of questions they will face and practice their test-taking skills. You may want to take a prep course or buy a review book from a book store in order to get ready for the test. 
 
  • LEADERSHIP: Your leadership in various organizations and/or community service is also highly important. A commitment to one or two activities over a period of time is much more impressive than simply being a member of a bunch of clubs. 
 
  • RECOMMENDATIONS: Counselor and teacher recommendations often are important factors. Some colleges do not ask for teacher recommendations, and a few do not require any recommendations. It is important that you follow the college instructions. Due to the high volume teachers and counselors receive, it is imperative you give at least two weeks notice.
 
  • APPLICATION: The application form that you submit may help or hurt your chances substantially. A sloppy, ill-composed application may end your candidacy at a given college. Your essays and/or personal statement should be written by you in your best prose—no grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or stylist errors.
 
  • NON-ACADEMIC: Your nonacademic activities and accomplishments, both in school and out, can also be a significant factor in college admissions. This tends to be the situation more often with selective colleges and definitely with the University of California. Be sure to let the colleges know about your participation in clubs, sports, athletics, leadership roles, community service, notable achievements, and jobs - both volunteer and paid. Colleges look for well-rounded, motivated, energetic leaders. Intensive participation in a few activities or projects usually is more significant than lesser involvement in a larger number. Be specific and detailed about important activities.
  
 
To explore colleges, reviews and rankings visit: https://colleges.niche.com/
For a list of California colleges visit: