Why Do Some Students Get Accepted To College and Others Do Not?
No doubt if you've already applied to college, or are thinking about doing
so, the thought of rejection has crossed your mind. It may seem baffling why
some schools may accept some students while rejecting the rest, but there are
many criterion college admission officers look for, and some factors that set
students apart. In this article, you'll find:
- Admissions criteria
- Are you well-rounded?
- Understanding the college's goals
- What to do if you are not accepted
Failure to meet the admissions criteria
Each college evaluates applicants differently. It is important to be aware of
these differences and to create a strategy that is specific to each college.
Some schools look only at academics and test scores, while others will consider
alumni relations, state residency, interviews and other criteria. It is crucial
to understand what each school deems important.
This information will allow you to focus on what will really help you to get
into that particular school.
Some schools will choose a percentage of their students based solely on
academic considerations. UC Berkeley chooses up to about 50% of their applicants
this way. For most students, however, it is the other factors which will get
them accepted or rejected.
Our strategy can help you figure out why the school of your choice may accept
or deny your admissions. The Overall Plan will show you how important different
factors are at different schools, such as test scores, minority status, and
talents. This can give you an idea of how your strengths and weaknesses will
affect your admission. You can also then compare your scores and skills with
those of the freshman class of that college.
Are you well-rounded?
Usually, after the admissions officers examine the academic criteria, they
will examine the character of the student through his or her achievements and
activities. More than just a "well-rounded" person, most colleges are
looking for people who will make a contribution in some way to their school and
who have proven themselves to be motivated leaders.
If you have studied your way through high school without doing much else,
chances are your application will seem a little incomplete. On the other hand,
if you were involved in a million activities, but contributed nothing, your
application may seem a little shallow. Schools may deny a student admission
based on these grounds.
For instance, Yale University insists they have more interest in performance
rather than test scores. Yale says it wants someone who will be a curious and
involved student, and choose accordingly. Schools may overlook a bad test score
if there are other strong points on an application, but a good test score won't
cover up deficiencies in other areas.
Failure to prepare and submit a thorough application
Top-rated schools could never grant admission to all of the applications they
receive. These schools reject thousands of well-qualified students. If your
application is incomplete or late then you have a far greater chance of being
- It is extremely important that you read all of the application instructions
and follow them carefully. Be sure to submit applications well before the
- Make sure you complete all questions on the application
- Applicants should try to be creative yet thoughtful on their applications,
and spend a good deal of time writing and carefully editing their essays
- Any recommendations sent in should be from teachers who will really take the
time to write some good insightful comments
- Don't be afraid to ask for help from your parents or counselor
Understanding the college's goals
No college or university has quotas, but almost all schools want to create a
diverse campus. UC Santa Cruz, for instance, prides itself on having one of the
most diverse campuses in the UC system.
Diversity can be one of the greatest benefits of going to college, because it
creates an interesting campus with many learning opportunities. Admission
officers do keep race, gender, and disabilities in mind when selecting
Many college outreach programs try to reach groups in the community who are
underrepresented on their campus. For a few people, this may affect admissions
either because their ethnic background is already well represented, or because
it's barely represented at all. However, diversity is usually not the first, or
even second, consideration an admissions officer will make, so the chances of
being rejected simply because of ethnicity are slim.
What to do in the event you are not accepted
In the event that you are not accepted to your number one choice, you may
consider one of the following options:
- Call the college and make sure there is no mistake being made. Although this
is rare, it is worth the small effort involved
- Write a letter explaining why you should be accepted. Sometimes this is all
- Get on a waiting list if it's an option
- You may be able to get a deferred admission to enter the college in the
Spring and may be able to take Extension courses in the meantime
If you have your heart set on going, you could go to a community college that
has guaranteed admissions to that school under a Cooperation program and
transfer as a junior. Be assertive in calling the school and finding out what
your options are. If you can see a college counselor, do so.
Also remember that in your disappointment you may be overlooking some
excellent, but less well known schools. In fact, the chances are good that many
smaller schools will have better programs in your field than the big name
schools. Always try for the school you really want while keeping your mind open
to all of your opportunities.