Putting together an impressive college application can be daunting. It is difficult to second-guess what college admissions officers want to see on the form. Academic achievement is undoubtedly the No. 1 priority because you need to prove you can cope with the demands of studying. However, colleges like to see success in other areas, such as sports or community involvement.


All colleges want to see evidence of academic prowess and high grades are evidence of this. In particular, high SAT and ACT scores will go far when colleges are assessing which students to admit. SAT sub-scores of over 700 and ACTs over 32 are impressive and should mean that you can get in to the college of your choice. However, even with high SAT and ACT scores, admissions officers still want to see evidence of consistently good class grades and extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular Activities

Colleges welcome students who show dedication and enthusiasm for extracurricular activities. This could mean participating in the school yearbook or running the school newspaper. Arts activities, such as drama, dance or music, shows a creative bent. Sports activities usually demonstrate teamwork and commitment, both useful skills for college life. Personal interests away from school, such as belonging to a band, also look good on a college application.


Voluntary work and other community involvement look impressive on a college application. This could be anything from visiting patients at a local hospital to selling tickets for a community raffle. This kind of experience is a commitment of time and shows college tutors that you have a caring, thoughtful side. It also demonstrates that you are sociable and think of other people, not just your own academic future. Mention any unpaid work experience as this also shows drive.


A college application that lists special honors and achievements makes it stand out from the rest. Include a list of any medals, trophies and certificates that you have received. For instance, if you have won a state poetry prize or received a gold medal for dancing three years in succession, mention this. Participating is one thing, but rising to the top of a sport or perfecting a skill shows strong time-management ability while at school.

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