In the United States, there were about 4,300 institutions of higher learning (1,626 public colleges and 2,672 private institutions) as of 2017. Each institution, whether it be a trade school or even a prestigious university, has its own qualification criteria you must meet before being accepted.
The problem? There’s little consensus among them, which means qualification criteria can vary greatly. This can make anticipating what you need to succeed a real challenge, especially if the school you’re applying to is highly competitive.
We took a look at the most common qualifications from some of the country’s largest institutions. What we discovered is that most schools do hold relatively similar criteria that fall under one or more of the following categories.
Basic Admissions Qualifications
When it comes to admissions qualifications, there are a few that are almost universal (meaning that most colleges require them). However, there isn’t any one specific qualification that applies right across the board.
You can expect most colleges to ask for:
- High school transcript.
- High school diploma (GED).
- Record of GPA.
- Standardized test scores.
- Letters of recommendation.
- Personal statement.
- Placement test scores.
- Extracurricular activities.
- Community involvement.
- Writing sample.
- High school ranking.
- Work experience.
These requirements are listed in order or rank by how many schools require them. For example, 88% of schools require a high school transcript, but only 3% require work experience.
Other Factors That Are Considered
Some schools (especially elite and/or competitive schools) consider other factors. While these may not be required, they do play a huge role in whether you’re accepted or not.
Here are a few examples:
- Academic qualifications.
- Dual enrollment.
- Veteran status.
- Athletic capabilities.
- Legacy applicant.
- Relation to school employee.
- Diversity goal.
Since you won’t particularly know what criteria your prospective schools consider before applying, it’s a good idea to do a little research first. This will ensure that you include the things on your application that the school values most.
Financial Aid Considerations
All schools require that you have financial aid or a way to pay for college in place before you begin classes. If you plan to apply for financial aid, you must be able to provide key information:
- A need for financial help.
- Proof of citizenship (or eligibility as a noncitizen).
- Valid social security number.
- Registered with Selective Service (males only).
- Enrolled in a degree or certificate program.
- Enrolled for at least half-time.
- Satisfactory academic progress.
- Proof that you’re eligible for college.
- Completed FAFSA.
Your school’s financial aid office can help you apply and may even help you secure all the documents and proof you need to successfully complete your application.
Each school you’re considering will likely have different criteria you must need in order to be accepted. It is very important for you to discuss the criteria with an admission counselor from each school before filling out applications.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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