The 7 College Admission Requirements

The college admissions process is, in simplest terms, confusing. There is no exact blueprint that will get you to the college of your dreams. Rather, it is a holistic process that allows you to showcase different parts of who you are as a student and a person. It is important for college admission officers to see that you are a well-rounded student who will add value to their college community. Research is key! Know where you are applying to and why. This will help you understand their process and requirements better, and benefit your understanding of their college community better. The holistic process consists of several factors to help define you as a person and gain admission to your desired college.


The SAT and ACT exams allow you to show the college admissions officers how “college ready” you are in terms of testing and preparation. A good score can keep you on the admission officer’s radar as a great candidate to move forward with. Additionally, a good exam score can land you some hefty scholarship money, depending on which colleges you apply to. As you continue through high school, begin to look at when would be the best time to take these exams, keeping in mind that there is heavy preparation needed to score well in all the sections. Remember, there is is also a recommended limit to how many times you should take either of these exams- try not to take either of these exams more than 3 times because college admission officers can see this number, and you don’t want them to see you submitted a score after taking it multiple times. Keep in mind, some colleges don’t even require test scores! 


Your GPA is a major factor for the college admission process- it shows how you have been doing academically for the past 4 years. They may take it as a reflection of your academic maturity- how well you keep up with classes and where you are lacking. Whether you have a consistently high GPA, or show a steady increase over the past few years, a college admissions officer will likely use your GPA to judge your high school success. Make sure to especially work hard in the 1st semester of senior year, since this is the most recent semester before college starts. The 2nd semester grades are also very important, since many colleges look at these grades to be sure you are keeping up with your work, even after being admitted to their college- they have the right to rescind your application if you are deemed “unfit” due to your senior-year grades. 

SAT Subject Exams/ AP Exams

Many students forget about this part of the process. College admission officers love to see these exams in your portfolio! Doing well on an AP/SAT Subject test gives you a “one-up” on your peers since you are going above and beyond to show your intellect in a certain subject area. It is a good idea to take an AP exam or SAT Subject Test in a subject that you will score well in and that is geared towards the major you are choosing. This shows your mastery in the subject as well as your eagerness to prove yourself. Depending on your score, AP exams can also get you some college credit! 

Academic Rigor/ Classes

The classes you have taken in high school are also important. Though most classes are pre-chosen for you, there are many classes that allow you to showcase your interest. There are options for many electives and AP classes that you can take. Taking these classes proves that you are up for a challenge and are forwarding your education in the direction of your intended major. 

Volunteering Services

Volunteer work helps to show who you are aside from school. It shows how you’ve given back to your community and that you can be a productive member of the college community as well. You can show off your leadership, communication, talent, and organizational skills through volunteer work. Some colleges require you to have a certain number of hours under your belt, so it is great to get started early. Look into local resources in your neighborhood and tap into your potential! 

Recommendation Letters

Colleges want to know that you are not just showcasing your best self to them- they want to hear it from others too! These “rec-letters” help to diminish any bias that may be in your profile. You can ask teachers, mentors, coaches, employers, or whoever knows you in a professional and personal matter that can vouch for you. It is important you choose those who know you are as a person, not just the type of worker/student you are. These letters are vital to your profile, so make sure to choose appropriately. 

Personal Statement/ Supplemental Essays

This may be the most important part of your portfolio. Writing is the best way to get to know a person without meeting face to face. The personal statement is the perfect time to showcase just about anything you want! Whether you write about your experience with discovering a talent, your interest in a hobby, or about a life-changing moment, you want your passion to shine through your essay. There are also supplemental essays, which are for individual colleges. There are different prompts for different colleges, so make sure to research the college and understand the prompt fully when writing. Overall, your essays can make or break your portfolio, so a second pair of eyes, such as a friend or English teacher, who can help edit and revise your essay is a great idea. 


These criteria are some of the most important parts of your college applications, but they are not the only factors. Interviews, emails, legacy, and much more come into play when a college admissions officer makes a decision on your application. Simple gestures, such as reaching out via email, makes a big impact to your application. Try to speak with alumni to know where you want to apply to. Research, research, research! Knowing where you are applying is your biggest strength. Reach out to Gooroo to have a qualified college mentor help you navigate the process and gain admission to the college of your dreams!

About the Author



Sadia is an experienced STEM and college advising tutor at Gooroo. Gooroo is a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.