(MoneyWatch) What arelooking for as they pour through the latest crop of student applications?
College gatekeepers say that the applicants whom they value most have taken National Association of College Admission Counselors indicates that 84 percent of admission directors at state and private schools say grades in college-prep classes are of "considerable importance."
This admission factor has dominated the association's annual list for two decades. Coming in second in importance, according to the survey, was the strength of a teenager's curriculum (68 percent).
The admission factor that has fallen dramatically in the polls over the years is class rank. Back in 1993, for instance, 42 percent of institutions said class rank was of "considerable importance," but today that number has shrunk to 19 percent. A prime reason for the drop is because many high schools have stopped ranking their students.
College admission factors
Here is a rundown of the other admission factors listed in the survey, ranked by the percentage of admission administrators who say they are of "considerable importance:"
- Admission test scores (ACT, SAT), 59 percent
- Counselor recommendation, 19 percent
- Class rank, 19 percent
- Teacher recommendation, 16.5 percent
- Subject test scores (AP, IB), 7 percent
- Portfolio, 6 percent , 6 percent
- SAT II scores, 5 percent
- Extracurricular activities, 5 percent
- State grad exam scores, 4 percent
- Work, 2 percent
The key takeaway: The best thing a teenager can do to lower the
Colleges possess finite amounts of money to distribute for financial aid and merit scholarships. The students who have assembled superior academic profiles are in a much greater position to capture the best awards.