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What Are Colleges Looking For? Tips for College Essays, Applications and Beyond

What Are Colleges Looking For? Tips for College Essays, Applications and Beyond



hey guys it's for question four tutor TV are you wondering what colleges are really looking for are you trying to go through this process and figure out like what do I need to get into college in this video what I'm going to do is I'm going to try to answer the question what our college is really looking for I'm going to go through some basic points of what colleges want to see from you and what matters in the college application process before we get started I recommend that you subscribe to our channel all you have to do is click Subscribe it's below this video and the other thing that I recommend you do is prescribe to our mailing lists you can find that at super tutor tv.com slash subscribe so what our college is really looking for this is a question that I get a lot of times for my students some of my opinions are test prep students and we're working on a CTE or SAT prep and during that process they start to think oh my gosh like what do I have to do to get into college other than just like this this standardized test stuff right what are the ingredients what do they care about and how does it all work in general what I would say is three things that are sort of fuzzy elements that colleges are looking for and these are probably competitive colleges and other one colleges generally want students who are going to change the world if you are going to become the next big thing in the world if you're going to become somebody who's this leader whether it's in the arts or in thought or in business colleges want to claim you as their own down the line they want alumni who are doing awesome things and making our world a better place the second thing that colleges are looking for is they're looking for people who have what I call a passion for learning you could call this intellectual vitality you could call it a natural sense of curiosity you could call it people who want to learn for learning sake but no matter what you call it the idea is that they want students who value intellectual inquiry they want students who are interested in ideas because ideas are what shape our world in our society and they want students who want to be a part of those ideas and third colleges want students who are capable of achieving great things they want people who have the chops who've worked hard who know how to work hard who are capable who are competent that's what causes are looking for but how do you prove your college that you've got all that how do you pretty good college you're going to be that kind of a person after you graduate or while you're in school and that is a little bit tougher but basically it comes down to five things Steven we're practically these are basically the things that are going to go into your application they're going to prove to colleges that you are those three things so that's the vision and that's the message that you want to project to colleges just to give you a heads up that's actually what they're looking for so now I'm going to talk about is all of the more tangible things that you're going to do to try to get into college number one grades matter this is your GPA dream a totally matters and at some colleges it matters more than anything else to test scores matter it does matter what you do on the standardized test at most school sure there's a few schools that don't require tests but for the most part at most competitive colleges and universities your test scores are going to be taken into account and even at schools where tests are optional oftentimes they're considered now for Surrey involvement matters involvement is basically like extracurricular activities for most high school students but involvement could also be other activities or pursuits that you do outside of school or endeavors that you've engaged in in some way you have to be involved you have engage in your world you have to go out and take life by the horns and do something that's involvement involvement matters for passion matters and what I mean by passion is you have to have something that you're interested in you can't be completely apathetic it doesn't mean there's only one thing you're interested in but you have to have at least something or a few things that interest you you have to be somebody who has desire and then five and five is basically total essay stuff which is vision matters and what I mean by vision is you have to have an understanding of yourself of who you've been in high school and an understanding of where you want to go of who you want to be in college or beyond and you kind of tell that story to colleges in your essays that vision matters so much and and what I would say is students who don't have passion and vision but have awesome greens and often test scores and great activities oftentimes they don't get into their first story school they don't get into Harvard they don't get into Stanford they don't get into the schools because they are missing this vital piece so it's really important that you have some perspective on your life and that you have passion that you've got that like inspirational part too so that you can see like here's what I want and here's what I love that you can express those and you can express them on paper as somebody who's writing essays so essays really matter a lot so I have a lot of students ask me is it okay if I don't have the grades and the test scores but I have an awesome essay my general rule of thumb is that a really competitive school is you basically have to have a with every box check off occasionally yes if you're really outstanding in this category it may be a little less impressive over here and the other thing is I want to just go back to those original three ideas that I talked about if you're going to get away with something in those other five categories that is a little bit shaky er isn't as impressive that just means that you've got to convince colleges of those first three things in some other way and finally the last thing that I'll say is every college is a little bit different so I'm generalizing for all colleges right now but some colleges are going to value one thing over another right like a big state school might value your GPA and your test scores way more than all this other stuff because they don't have the budget to actually bring through a ton of essays or applications right whereas a school like the University of Chicago or Stanford might be a little bit more of a wild-card School in which they're really looking for game changers out-of-the-box thinkers and entrepreneurs and you might choose some people who may seem to have kind of inconsistent records in some ways but are outstanding in one category and in another category they're kind of fuzzy and they'd rather have somebody like that because I think that person is more interesting then somebody who's just pretty solid and great across the board so it really depends on the school that's about it for today I hope this helps you as you try to frame yourself in this college application process and this preparation phase of trying to get ready for college and make sure that you've checked off all your boxes and you've done everything right check out our social media check out some more of our videos here at superior d be calm if you have any prepping for the AC T definitely go check out our website super tutor TV com we've got an awesome a CT prep series you guys should check out and I will see all of you next time on super tutor TV thanks for watching ciao


Reader Comments

  1. Hi, i have a question. I got a really good act and sat score and A grade through high school and took all honors and AP classes as well as getting As and Bs in middle school would that give me high chances of getting into a good school like Mit?

  2. What if you have passion, vision, grades, and maybe even the test scores but none of involvement? 😕😰

  3. Hey! I think that I have the ambition, vision, work ethic and extracurriculars to be accepted by an ivy league. (I know this sounds pretty egosentric and what not, but please stay with me here☺)
    You probably don't know much about international applications, etc.
    But I really need an answer on this… My 11th grade average is 87.86%. In South Africa, an A means 80% -100%. I.e. My unweighted GPA is a 4.0. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to calculate my weighted GPA, because we don't work with GPAs and we don't have AP/Honors/Regular classes. Our classes are all the same throughout my porvince (Western Cape).
    Would a South African's 87.86% be enough to get accepted? (Only judging by grade)

  4. I'm a sophomore this year and I'm stressing about what colleges will see and judge me on in my freshman and sophomore years and beyond because my gradesfor my freshman and first semester sophomore were DEFINITELY NOT GREAT. But I still am really passionate about what I want to do (music) and Im just worried that my biology grade will affect getting into my dream college on a music major.

  5. You lost me at "you have to go out"… with my anxiety, I find it hard to even pick up the phone to my classmates, so actually looking for human interaction is practically impossible for me. Anyone got tips to activities I can do without being completely uncomfortable? (PS. class stuff are okay, I'm normal in classroom situations)

  6. Great, I'm only taking one AP so far and I feel like its to late. But I did all Honors since freshmen year and academic programs. I'm thinking about taking at least 3-4 AP classes next year for my final year.

  7. I'm in 10th grade, and last year I told myself that I wasn't going to do sports so I could focus on my grade. I love volleyball and I want to get more active but I would be missing so much school for a few months/weeks and I just don't know what to do. My grades are incredibly important to me and I don't want to have them affected, because of volleyball. I want to play but at the same time I don't. This year is definitely going to be a little trickier because I might be taking two math courses, an I just want to be at the top of my game. Please, anybody, give me some advice on this.

  8. Is it a problem to talk about my interest if it does not relevant to the major I want to study? Like I want to study chemistry (bc I have good grade on it) but art is what interests me.

  9. Is it possible to make a video in regards to technical school students applying to Universities? I attend The Met high school in Rhode Island and we don't receive grades. I know this channel is mostly for regular public school students but just wondering!

  10. This is great and all, but how do these tips translate for people with depression? How do I show that I have "desire", express my "vision", and that I will, "change the world," is my self efficacy is practically non-existent? I have the grades, test scores and extracurriculars, yet no drive. I feel like I would, if not for my depression.

    They are things I like, activities and subjects that I love, I suppose I am incessantly curious but, my depression is making all of these assets die off. I would act on, and expand my "passions" more if I didn't hold myself back so much. You could tell me to just stop doing that, but it's not that simple. I have become apathetic; complacent, and have been this way for much of my highschool career. It's too late to make a turn-around.

    Do I lie about how I feel about myself and the world on my essay? I can imagine no college would admit someone they perceive to be emotionally weak due to their likelihood of dropping out, but I want to stay genuine in my essay. So do I omit the fact that I am so depressed?

    I feel like this mental illness only benefits you in the college process if you have already overcome it. It's a bit too late for that now. I feel like everyone expects you to be optimistic and to believe in yourself in order to get into a competitive college, but that seems nearly infeasible for me. I probably could be able to do all that I want to, if not for my feelings holding me back and that sucks so much.

    No one ever talks about applying for colleges when depressed, I would really appreciate your advice.

    Edit: I have read and heard college admissions officers say that they value insight into how an applicant thinks. This is the last thing I would want someone to know, especially a college admissions officer. Given my apathetic; pessimistic mentality, do you think that college just isn't the best option for me right now? I really want to go to college, but I'm the antithesis of who colleges look for apparently.

  11. Can you please tell me if i have the same chance to get in to college as a US resident who attends school there if I am studying abroad even though I am a US citizen?

  12. my gpa isn't perfect and neither are my test scores but i've been really challenging myself in my classes. how does that effect my chances of getting into a great school?

  13. Thank you so much, Brooke. I'm been so insecure about the application procces, the test, and your videos helped me a lot!

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