What colleges want in students applying


Mallika Singh

It’s well known that colleges ask for the, GPA, SAT scores and AP test scores of their applicants. They want numbers. Numbers make it easy to compare students. Admissions officers can look at applicants side by side and only see the numbers. However, it should be noted that colleges ask for extracurricular activities as well. This includes summer internships, volunteering, jobs, sports and more. What is unknown is how much colleges weigh numbers versus extracurriculars.

Students have different ideas on what colleges look for in an applicant. Senior Srinidhi Balaraman explained what she thinks colleges look at when they are deciding what students to admit.

“I think grades are definitely the first thing colleges look at to get a holistic idea of where you stand compared to other students,” Balaraman said. “But I think that colleges don’t just stop there.”

Junior Vishnu Akundi, however, believes that colleges look more at the non-academic part of the application. He explained that although numbers are important, activities play a role in admissions as well.

“Although GPA and SAT scores do help gauge the applicant’s academic ability in a certain way, I have heard that colleges look at extracurricular activities more nowadays,” Akundi said. “[Extracurriculars] are a better representation of the person as a whole.”

According to College Choice, colleges look at GPA, AP and Honors courses taken in high school, extracurricular activities and volunteering. Junior Manasi Vats agrees with this breakdown of what colleges take into account.

“[Colleges] probably want to see that you’re good [in] both [areas],” Vats said. “But I feel like it depends on what college it is. Some will consider test scores and GPA as more important but I think other colleges will look for extracurriculars as well.”

Senior Vishal Mahalawat agrees with this completely, as he believes that different colleges will look for different things. He suggests that some will more heavily weight numbers while some others will look a lot into extracurricular activities.

“I kind of believe that it sort of depends on the college,” Mahalawat said. “For instance, I think some schools won’t even look at your application unless you have the minimum GPA and test score required for their school.Then from there, I think that’s when they look at extracurriculars.”

Balaraman, too, agrees with Mahalawat as she explains that even though colleges look at the numbers quite a bit, they also look at extracurriculars. This could be especially true when the GPA and test scores aren’t as good as those of other applicants.

“Colleges don’t stop just at the GPA and test scores,” Balaraman said. “If you don’t have amazing numbers [it may be] because there [is] something in your extracurriculars that shows that you are dedicated and have spent so much time participating in an activity and excelled in that.”