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Hacking Your College Resume

Updated: May 29, 2021

What is the most important part of the College Application?


We have this question in one way or another almost as long as we have been around.

  • "How do I maximize my changes of getting my child into [exclusive university #1]?"

  • "What exactly are colleges looking for when they look at student resumes?"

  • "Is there a way to give my child a leg-up when applying to college?"

  • "Do colleges only look at a students GPA?"

  • ...

This question has been asked hundreds of times in a hundred different ways and we figured that it was worth tackling here today.


To start, the most important part of a student's portfolio when applying to college are:

  1. Their GPA, Course Load and Academic Rank (accounting for nearly 40% of their acceptance or rejection decision)

  2. Their SAT score and Standardized testing scores (accounting for nearly 25% of their acceptance or rejection decision)

  3. Their Extracurriculars (accounting for nearly 20% of their acceptance or rejection decision)

  4. Other (life experiences, personality, etc.) (accounting for nearly 15% of their acceptance or rejection decision)


With that being said, let's dive into the specific of why and how colleges look at each of these 4 categories.


GPA, Course Load and Academic Rank

This makes up the lion-share of a student's portfolio, and for good reason. When you're applying to a school, they first and foremost want to know: "Can this student succeed and do well at this school?" And a student's GPA, Course Load and Academic Rank gives the college a very clear idea of whether or not this is the case.


For example, let's say a student was applying to a top school like Harvard. After applying to Harvard, what Harvard will do is check to student's grades to make sure they will be able to handle the academic rigor at Harvard. To this, they check to see the student's GPA, which classes they took (as not all classes are treated equally), and most importantly, how well they ranked in comparison with other students from their grade level.


By checking the student's GPA, Harvard can see what type of effort the student gives in class, and uses that as a barometer for the type of effort they may give once they attend their university.


A similar idea stems from checking the course-load a student has taken during their 4 years of high-school. A student could have a perfect 4.0, but if they have taken "easier" (not higher level) classes, they'll be at a severe disadvantage to the person who might have a 3.8 but has taken many higher level classes and a few Ap Exams and performed very well.


In general, it's better for a student to focus on doing "relatively" well on a tougher course-loads than doing perfectly on an easier one. Not only might this help their GPA in the long run, but it will also show colleges and universities that the student is capable and willing to take university level classes and do well in them.


SAT and Standardized Testing

Many parents believe that their child's application rests on whether or not they can achieve a certain score on the SAT. This is true to an extent, but not 100% true.


We'll cover this more next week, so stay tuned for that, but the SAT isn't so much a determining factor of whether a student makes it into a particular school or not, but instead, it allows a student to get in the door to have the chance to be accepted in the first place.


Extracurricular Activities

Extracurriculars are important to a college because they want to know that a student did more than simply "study" while in school.


For the most part, colleges want their students to be relatively well rounded. When they're accepting students, they're looking for students who can fill various roles on their campus on top of being academically gifted.


While it is important for the student to be academically gifted, that's not the only thing that matters. The college needs captains of the soccer team, science bowl participants, volleyball players and ballet dancers. All of these roles need to be filled and the college and university will seek to fill these roles with the best students they can.


So while one student may be an academic superstar, if that's all that they do, they are truly boxing themselves into a tight corner; because if another student comes up who isn't as academically gifted, but on top of being okay academically is a soccer player a basketball player and plays chess. The school will overwhelmingly pick the second student and he "fits" into their community much better than the first student. The second student is much more versatile, so they are much more valuable than the first.


Other

This we're going to pack in a special post a few weeks from now. But, essentially, this is what separates a good college application from a great college application.


If you don't want to miss it, make sure you're subscribed to the newsletter and stay tuned for all our updates.


In Conclusion

The most important parts of a student's application to college are:

  1. Their GPA, Course Load and Academic Rank (accounting for nearly 40% of their acceptance or rejection decision)

  2. Their SAT score and Standardized testing scores (accounting for nearly 25% of their acceptance or rejection decision)

  3. Their Extracurriculars (accounting for nearly 20% of their acceptance or rejection decision)

  4. Other (life experiences, personality, etc.) (accounting for nearly 15% of their acceptance or rejection decision)

In the next couple of posts we'll go over each category individually and asses why each of the categories are important and what colleges use them for.



Closing Words

As usual, you can always contact us here to suggest a topic we could cover, or, if you'd like a one on one consultation about something personal that you would like some guidance and advice with, you can contact us here.

As always, if you haven't gotten your FREE E-book, "The Elite Institution Guide," we highly suggest it. We have gotten raving reviews from parents about how it has helped them truly guide their children to success and we highly recommend that you download it for FREE as soon as possible. Secondly, if you're a parent who is interested in getting your child into the Ivy League, for a limited time only, we're giving away one of our E-books in our "Ivy League Fastlane" series for free right here. Check that out and be sure to grab your FREE e-book before it disappears forever.

We're glad you've stuck with us this far and look forward to continuing this journey with you when we release our next post in the newsletter.


We'll speak with you soon.

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