Year after year, this is one of the questions we receive most from eager high school students gearing up for the college application process. We thought we’d take the time to break down how admissions decisions are made. Don’t want to read all the way to the end? Here’s our #spoileralert: amazing extracurriculars don’t outweigh average academics. Let us tell you why!
When admissions committees at top schools make admissions decisions, they’re evaluating you across a few elements:
Here, admissions committees are looking to evaluate whether or not you are equipped to succeed in their college courses. This comes down to more than your GPA and test scores, though those are factors in this evaluation Other areas of your academic evaluation will include AP test scores, SAT Subject Test Scores, Letters of Recommendation and your academic involvement outside the classroom.
Habit of Leadership/Depth of Commitment
(This is where your amazing extracurriculars will be evaluated!)
It’s not enough to just participate in volunteer work or play a sport. Admissions committees at top universities are looking for students who have thoroughly enveloped themselves in activities that they are truly passionate about! Their job as an admissions committee is to admit a well-rounded, diverse freshman class. They’re looking for “pointy” students – students who have clearly demonstrated interests and passions and have taken the initiative to excel in those areas both inside and outside the classroom.
Fit for Institution
In the end, admissions committees will never admit a student that they don’t believe will actually enroll, so it’s important to clearly articulate your fit and sincere interest for each individual school on your list! This is typically done through school-specific supplemental essays, and will also be an imperative part of your application process.
Essentially, excelling in extracurriculars does not outweigh average or less-than-average performance in academics. Why? Because first, admissions committees need to determine if you will be able to keep up academically with your peers in college level courses. That’s the most important criteria. Unfortunately, your extracurricular activities do not necessarily demonstrate to admissions committees that you are prepared to excel academically on their campus. If you don’t have sufficient evidence on your application that you’ll be able to handle academic rigor, it is unlikely you will be admitted to selective college or university.
Do you have questions about how your unique extracurricular experiences will be evaluated by admissions committees? Take advantage of Veritas Prep’s free college consultation — you’ll receive personalized feedback from one of our college admission experts on your chances of admission to your dream schools, as well as tangible next steps for what you can do to ensure your applications are successful!