The Right Guidance for College and Career Success: Maximizing Your Educational Investment

4 Variables That Colleges Use to Admit Students

Parents and students ask us what it takes to get into college. Currently, each college has a formula they use to admit students – either via a computer or based on human review of applications.


For students interested in being admitted as a freshman to a 4-year college or university, there are four areas to focus on:

1. Test Scores: Universities require either the SAT or ACT college admission test scores. Most students take each of these tests more than once to ensure the highest score possible. Taking these tests should begin in the junior year of high school.

2. Grades: High school GPA over 3.0 is generally required to be admitted in most colleges and universities. This means students need to earn a “B” or above in all courses in order to be admitted. Grade averages are impacted by each grade, so if you get a C in one course, this causes your GPA to go down and will always keep it lower, than if all of your grades were A’s or B’s.

3. College Essays: Many public universities and all private universities require some writing. Writing allows students to highlight who they are and why they are qualified to attend a certain university. Check out University of California essays or Common App essays (used by most private colleges and universities).

4. High School Sports, Leadership, Jobs, Community Service and Involvements: All colleges ask students to share these other areas of involvement. This can include school clubs, outside of school activities such as Boys or Girl Scouts, club sports, etc. Colleges want to know how each student exhibits leadership and what they are involved in outside of school.

The ForwarDirections network can help guide students in all four of these areas. Just fill out the information on our contact page and we will be in contact with you soon.