Preparing for College: The Parts of an Admission Folder
When you apply to college, the college admission office collects a folder of information to consider as it makes a decision about you. There are five main areas of an applicant's "folder":
The application includes simple biographical information such as your birthday, family members and addresses. Frequently you will need to write essays, which are intended to acquaint the admission committee with your experiences, strengths and weaknesses, and writing ability. Check out the section "The Personal Factor" later in this chapter for advice about essays.
A Word About Electronic Applications: An ever-increasing number of colleges are turning to advances in technology to make the application process easier. When you access a college's Web site, you will usually find two ways to complete the application:
- Download and print out the application, to be completed by hand and mailed.
- Complete the application online and submit it electronically (via the college's Web site).
If you fill out the application and submit it online, be sure to print out a copy of what you send, and follow-up with a telephone call or email to confirm that your application has been received and processed properly.
Regardless of a college's admission policy, the most important factor in an applicant's folder is the academic record in secondary school. Your curriculum, your specific courses, and the grades you received are aspects of the record admission officers consider in appraising a transcript (another term for the academic record). When your record is compared with your classmates' records, you may be assigned a class ranking relative to the others in the class. Class rank is important as a means of showing the admission officer the level of competition you have encountered and how well you have achieved relative to the competition. Some high schools do not compute class rank for a variety of reasons. Those schools that do not compute rank generally make provisions with colleges that require rank so that their students are not adversely affected in the admission process. Usually, high schools calculate students' grade point averages (GPA) as a step in preparing class rank; many schools use the GPA instead of class rank as a means of presenting a summary of a student's overall academic record. Most colleges require class rank and/or GPA to assist the admission office in making decisions.
A Word About Activities:
Although your academic credentials are the primary factors in determining admission, your record of involvement in activities can be a significant supporting credential. Mere membership is not the important factor; it is, rather, the level of involvement and accomplishment that is important. It is better to be involved in one activity and to be a significant contributor to that activity than to be involved superficially in several organizations.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. © 2008 National Association for College Admission Counseling.
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