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Planning for College

College Admission Criteria

The most important factor in getting admitted to the college of your choice is your high school grades. But colleges also look at the courses you took. If you got all A’s during high school but avoided challenging courses, it counts against you. For example, it’s better to get a B in AP calculus than an A in consumer math so you can pad your GPA.

Schools may also consider:

  • Class rank: This is where you stand in relation to the other students in your class. In addition to admissions, it can also be important for certain scholarships.
  • Standardized test scores: In Kentucky, the most often used standardized test is the ACT. The SAT is also widely used. The COMPASS is often used by two-year schools and technical schools. Your scores may also be important when it comes to financial aid.
  • Essay: Most often used by nonprofit private schools, essays let admissions counselors learn more about you as an individual and get a feel for your writing ability. Here are some tips on essay writing.
  • Letters of recommendation: Letters from teachers, counselors and other adults will give the admissions staff a more-rounded picture of you as a student and person.
  • Interview: Like essays, interviews are most often associated with nonprofit private colleges. It gives someone representing the school — a staff member or a graduate — a chance to talk with you one–on–one, either in person or on the phone. It also gives you a chance to ask questions about the school.
  • Extracurricular activities and volunteer work: The clubs, teams and community work you're involved in tell the school a lot about you as a person. Generally, it’s better to do a few things in—depth than so many things you can’t give any of them the time they deserve.