ANATOMY of the COLLEGE APPLICATION
TRANSCRIPT --------------- FOLDER --------------STUDENT ACTIVITIES
TEST SCORES -----------------
The application includes simple biographical information such as birth date and family information. Frequently, students are asked to write essays, which are intended to inform the admission committee about student experiences, strengths and weaknesses, and writing ability. The goal of the essay is for the student to present themselves in the best possible light. Originality is definitely a plus. Most college applications are on line and should be sent electronically if possible.
The transcript is the student’s academic record. This is the most important factor in the applicant’s folder. Many consider the transcript to be the best indicator of later college success. The program of study, specific courses, credits earned and course grades are aspects of the record that admissions officers will consider in evaluating the student’s transcript. Colleges pay special attention to the challenging courses the student has successfully taken. Your transcript provides both an unweighted and a weighted GPA. MCPS does not compute class rank, but a school profile is sent with every college application.
ADMISSION TEST SCORES
Most 4 year colleges require standardized test scores. Either the SAT or the ACT is acceptable at most schools. Test scores are used as a way of predicting whether or not a student will succeed in college. They may also be used to help place students in appropriate courses. Students who plan to take the SAT or ACT may improve their scores but taking prep classes, using test prep computer software, or taking free practice tests. Note that some 4 year colleges require SAT subject tests as well. Check the websites of the colleges to which you are interested in applying.
Students who plan on attending Montgomery College are not required to take the SAT or the ACT, but must take another test called the Accuplacer. Scores on this test are used for class placement. For more information, see your counselor or the Career Coordinator.
Teacher and counselor recommendations are an important part of the admission folder at many 4 year colleges. Teachers may comment on the type of contributions the student made to the class, on written and oral work, and on the student’s intellectual curiosity and thinking ability. The counselor can highlight strengths that would differentiate this applicant from other candidates, and comment on the student’s potential to succeed in college. The recommendations give the admissions committee more information about the student’s unique qualities, characteristics, and involvement in extracurricular activities.
Although the student’s academic credentials are the primary factor in determining admission, the student’s involvement in activities can be a significant supporting credential. Out of school activities such as employment, scouting, church groups and volunteer work should not be overlooked. Many college applications request information about a student’s involvement in these activities, including summer experiences. Just being a member in an organization is not an important factor. Rather, the level of involvement and accomplishment is what colleges are looking at. It is better for the student to be involved in one activity and to be a significant contributor than to be superficially involved in several clubs or organizations. Examples of a significant contribution include serving as a Key Club officer, writing regularly or editing the school newspaper, becoming an Eagle Scout, or devoting a significant amount of time to a community service project.