Top 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in a High School Student

Let’s clear this up right off the bat – when we talk about the top 5 qualities colleges seek in a high school student, we are talking about personal qualities.

There is no denying the importance of good grades, high SAT/ACT scores, and ample extracurricular activities play in a high school student’s ability to get acceptance into their college of choice.

But that isn’t the only thing that admission directors look for when determining acceptance-worthy qualities in a potential candidate.

While good test scores and a high GPA can definitely get your child’s application a second look, these days, the personal qualities of a student’s character are coming into play more and more.

Admissions officials seek to build a well-rounded and diversified class, so what qualities, specifically, are they looking for in their applications?

Here are the Top 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in High School Students

1) Strong Work Ethic

Top 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in a High School StudentIf a high school student has high marks in school but also spends their afterschool hours helping run the family business or working to save up to afford college, that speaks volumes to an admissions officer.

It tells them not only about how much of a priority the student is placing on their future, it often shows that their determination, work ethic, and drive will translate over once they get into university as well.

How to showcase a strong work ethic to college admissions officials: 

A great way to let admissions officials know about the hardworking character of a student is through letters of recommendation.

Letters from teachers and employers who’ve seen first-hand the sacrifices the student has made for their education are a great way to get this point across.

2) Leadership

Top 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in a High School StudentIt’s not surprising that one of the most highly valued traits of college applications is leadership.

When a school decides to send an acceptance letter to a student, it is not only with the hope that the student will thrive in the environment.

It is also with the hope that the student will add to the betterment of the school as a whole by stepping up and leading change.

How to showcase leadership ability to admissions officials: 

One of the best ways to show off a student’s leadership qualities is by highlighting the different activities they are or were a part of.

Were they student class president, or did he or she found a new club?

Actions of leadership are a great way to highlight in the application process.

3) ServiceTop 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in a High School Student

Sure, athletes with skills like Kobe and brains like Einstein are exciting for college administrators, but they also place high importance on community service.

If students who are passionate about serving others and have proved that passion throughout their high school career results in solid and actionable results, they will always win points.

How to showcase service to admissions officials: 

Students who’ve made a difference in others’ lives would be well advised to ask the very people that they helped, to help them.

Such stories will tug at the heartstrings of an admissions officer and often result in an acceptance letter.

4) Curiosity

Top 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in a High School StudentNaturally curious people are usually great problem solvers and diligent learners.

In several cases, they tend to be more successful than their more intelligent counterparts because they can think outside of the box and strive for something others might not see.

Admissions officers know this.

They also know that a curious student can often spark other students and create a more dynamic class.

How to showcase your curiosity to admissions officials: 

Curiosity may seem like a tough characteristic to highlight on a paper application, but one of the best ways to do so is through your personal statement in your application.

Talk about how your curiosity has helped shape your life and experiences, and how those experiences will benefit you at their university.

5) Likeability

Top 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in a High School StudentLet’s face it.

People like people they relate to.

The same is true for admissions officers.

If they have a polite, friendly, and likable candidate sitting across from them, they are more likely to want to offer you a spot at their school.

How to showcase likeability to admissions officials:

Admissions officers read a lot of essays and interview a lot of candidates.

Let your true self shine through in these situations, and don’t be afraid to show your sense of humor or your charms.

Chances are it will pay off in the long run.

Your SATs and test scores and the quality of your writing are, of course, essential aspects of appealing to your dream college.

But they are by no means the only thing colleges are looking for.

These top 5 qualities colleges seek in high school students let them know what kind of person you are beneath the impressive grades and personal statements.

So, make sure you let your personality shine and let yourself stand out when you are applying for college.

Remember that admissions officers aren’t witnessing you in your everyday life – you will have to demonstrate your unique skills and strengths in other ways.

Extra-curriculars and work experience in your portfolio and letters of recommendation are some of the ways you can show you have what it takes to admissions officers.

Remember, high school isn’t just about the grades – it’s also about cultivating the qualities that colleges and later employers look for in an ideal candidate.

It’s never too late to start!

Which of these top 5 qualities colleges look for in high school students do you have covered?

Which are you planning to work on more?

I’d love to hear from you!

Top 5 Qualities Colleges Look For in a High School StudentKristy Hessman is a freelance writer who guest blogs at a leading provider of graduation stoles and sashes. She is passionate about helping high school students tap their full potential to get into their dream colleges.

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