Unless you are applying to a university that admits you based on your high-school or college grades, a general admission test or their own admission test, many students and parents struggle to understand how the university is going to review a student’s application and make a decision. So, what do admission officers look for in an application?
For example, many of the top US universities in the USA follow a subjective or holistic approach to admissions. The public universities may give more weightage to a student’s GPA and grades, while many of the Ivy League Universities or private colleges may give equal weightage to a student’s grades and his or her other achievements, experience, or profile.
So, what are these admission teams really looking for or evaluating in a student’s application for undergraduate, graduate or MBA programs? Here are the 3 questions they are trying to answer from the application.
Top 3 Things Admission Teams Look for in an Application
1. Is the student passionate about certain things and does the student push himself or herself in development, learning etc.?
To answer this question, the admission team looks at what the student or applicant has done so far. Are there certain areas, topics, subjects an applicant is interested in and have they pushed themselves to learn, grow in this area of interest.
For example, if a student shows his interest in applying for mechanical engineering, has he or she taken rigorous courses, done projects or published any research paper in Mathematics, Physics, Robotics, Mechanical Design, etc. in their area of interest.
This does not just matter for engineering students but can be relevant to anyone who is applying for Arts, Music, Computer Science, Biology, etc.
If a student has done more than the required courses, it tells admission officers that the student is someone who works hard, follows their passion, develops themselves and has a genuine interest in learning. These are skills and attitudes that can take them far irrespective of what they decide to study and what they end up doing in their career and life.
2. Can they successfully cope with the program once admitted?
Every college, with a noble mission of educating the next generation, would like to admit as many students as they can. However, one of the major concerns of the top, competitive colleges around the world is to ensure they admit students who can cope up with the rigor of the program.
This is one of the reasons colleges try to look at the courses a student has taken, how rigorous these courses are and how they performed in these courses. They overlay the grades with the progression over the years.
For example, a high-school kid or a college kid did better in their junior or senior years compared to freshmen and sophomore years. Is this trendline positive or negative?
In addition, they look at the high school or the college an applicant is attending? How have the students from these high schools or colleges done before at their school once admitted? Are these high schools or college programs competitive and rigorous? How has the student performed in the standardized tests and what tests have they taken?
All these data points are feeding into the admission decision with a clear objective of not only seeing how a student performs relative to other applicants but also if they have what it will take for them to be successful in the program.
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3. Do they integrate, adjust and contribute to their community?
Last but not the least, every college admission team wants to admit students who will be good citizens at the college campuses, integrate well within the student community and also contribute to the development of the society.
The contribution can come in different ways and avenues. Some students may help in innovation, some may help bring leadership, a few may be the active participants in debates, sports and others may be the ones who will keep the college atmosphere lively through music, art, and social fun.
As students apply for undergraduate or graduate studies at these top colleges around the world, it is important they share with the admissions team information, data points and stories on how they will contribute not only to the college campus, program but to the whole society and community. Many admission teams look for data points in the application that can show them a student has real-life skills and may adjust to the new environment successfully.
In summary, the top colleges around the world are trying to put a story being each application and get to know the student on “who” they are, “what” drives them and how do they intend to utilize the time at college to achieve their career goals.