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Note: This is Blog 3 in a series of 3: First read: "What do college admissions committees care about the most?" and "Why do colleges look at the rigor of your high school transcript before anything else?"
Once colleges have finished looking at the rigor of your high school transcript and the grades you received (and usually recalibrating your GPA based on their own matrixes), most selective colleges then look at your high school context (meaning how difficult your high school is known to be), your high school class rank, and your standardized test scores.
Liberal arts colleges are typically vaguer than universities with regard to their admissions requirements and expectations. However, they do provide some suggestions with regard to academic and extracurricular preparation. To give you a general idea of these academic requirements and expectations, I have posted information from Pomona College, Macalester College, and Bowdoin College, three selective liberal arts colleges.
Have you ever asked yourself what extracurricular activities would look best for colleges? If so, this is not the question you want to be asking. Extracurricular activities should be interesting, stimulating, invigorating, and challenging, among other attributes. If you are participating in certain extracurricular activities because you think they'll look good for college, then STOP. Quite simply, that's a waste of time and energy, and it gives colleges a false sense of who you are and what's important to you.
As more American colleges and universities attempt to discern critical personality traits within their applicants—including leadership, persistence, and initiative—many colleges are now offering options to answer questions in place of the SAT.
Spark provides customized guidance to help you get into your top-choice schools.