- Rigor of secondary school record: Did you take challenging and accelerated classes, or did you pad your schedule with gym and easy “A”s?
- Class rank: How do you compare to your classmates?
- Academic GPA: Are your grades high enough to indicate that you will be successful in college?
- Standardized test scores: How did you perform on the SAT or ACT? Do your general or subject tests reveal particular strengths or weaknesses?
- Application essay: Is your essay well-written? Does it present you as a person who will make a good campus citizen?
- Recommendation: What do your teachers, coaches, and other mentors say about you?
- Interview: If you met with a college representative, how personable and articulate were you? Does your character show promise?
- Extracurricular activities: Are you involved with non-academic clubs and organizations? Do you have a variety of interests that suggest you have a well-rounded personality?
- Talent / ability: Is there an area where you truly excel, such as music or athletics?
- Character / personal qualities: Do the pieces of your application paint a picture of someone who is mature, interesting, and bighearted?
- First generation: Did your parents attend college? This factor isn’t usually weighted heavily, but some schools do try to target first generation college students.
- Alumni / ae relation: Are you a legacy applicant? Having a family member who attended the same school can help a little, for it’s in the college’s interest to build a family’s loyalty.
- Geographical residence: Where are you from? Most schools want geographic diversity within their student body.
- State residency: This is usually a factor only for state universities. Sometimes in-state applicants will receive preference.
- Religious affiliation / commitment: Your faith is a factor only for some colleges that have a religious affiliation.
- Racial / ethnic status: Most colleges believe that a diverse student body leads to a better educational experience for all students.
- Volunteer work: Have you given generously of your time? Volunteer work speaks to the question of “character” above.
- Work experience: Even if your work was at a fast-food joint, it can show that you have a strong work ethic and good time management skills.
- Level of applicant’s interest: Most schools indicate that they don’t try to measure interest. Nevertheless, a good application always reveals strong interest.
To see how different types of schools rank these categories, check out a few sample common data sets. Once you open the pdf files, scroll down to section C7: