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#CollegeBound: Navigating College Admissions, Part II

Last month, we shared Part I of Navigating College Admissions, with a focus on steps students can take before applying to university for a higher chance of acceptance. Here's a look at what you should have prepared for the actual admissions process.

Top Things College Admissions Offices Look For | Image source: Shutterstock / Photographer: Rawpixel

Top 5 Things Admissions Offices Want

Prepare yourself for a successful college admissions process by preparing these five things:


The transcript is your official high school academic record. Your high school guidance counselor can help you get transcripts sent to your selected schools.

Letters of Recommendation

Admissions usually require two or three letters of recommendation. Ask people who know your strengths and who are relevant to your major. For instance, if you are majoring in engineering, consider having recommendations from your mathematics or physics teachers.

Volunteer Experience

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Community service allows you opportunity to grow in your empathy and make a difference in the lives of others. Having volunteer experience noticed by admissions offices is an definite plus!


The written essay is how you set yourself apart. Show your creativity, personality, and motivations. Create a strong introduction, supporting arguments, and a cohesive conclusion. Get feedback from teachers, guidance counselors, and others. Then, proofread it, improve it, and repeat. Essays are your chance to shine.

An Interview

Some colleges have an interview process. Ace that interview by researching and being prepared. Know the school and study up on the interviewer. Dress for success, turn off your cell phone and other distractions, speak with confidence, ask in-depth questions that cannot be easily found on the school website, and send a hand-written thank you card immediately afterward.

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