The Admission Mission: A Guide to College Apps

College admissions representatives provide tips to help students ace the application process.


Fred Shoaff, Editor-in-Chief

For seniors, the college application season is upon us, so at this year’s Marmion college fair, I decided to ask several representatives from different schools what they look for in the best applications.

The mission for all college hopefuls is to set their application apart and make themselves unique. When asked about how students stand out, representatives who read applications themselves responded with different pieces of insight.

Grade Point Average was one of the favorite answers for many colleges. Some schools had strict cutoffs, so students should research extensively about these types of admissions restrictions before applying.

Other schools such as prestigious Notre Dame use grades as a starting point and have certain expectations. However, they look for the “well-rounded student” according to the traveling admissions representative.

“At Notre Dame, we look at students’ activities and service to the community. We want active kids who are also smart.”

Other elite universities implement this same approach, as they review “holistically.” This means they set no direct restrictions, but expect “whole” students.

Standardized testing is another significant aspect of a student’s bid for a college, but different universities tend to incorporate different techniques when reviewing scores. Superscoring is becoming a more prevalent method. Once again, students should conduct research to know a particular institutions guidelines.

Two schools that superscore tests are Carthage College and Butler University. Rocco Lamaccia, the college admissions rep at Carthage, says they superscore to “make [college] as affordable as possible.” This goes to show a extra few hours of practice and some tutoring could prove to be very beneficial for the student in the long run.

It is worthy to note that among all of the other schools that superscore, their purpose is to benefit the student, so take advantage!

One aspect of the process that many students overlook is how colleges look for initiative. Initiative does not show up on any transcripts, but through communication.

Kristin Nelson of Butler University says the best applications are those that she can associate with an identity.

“Students who show initiative and interest establish an identity that shows a strong connection with a college.”

If two students have identical grades, the one who will earn the upper-hand will be the one who has demonstrated he/she wants it more. In the application process, words often speak louder than scores.

To summarize the words of those who will be reading your applications in the near future: grades matter, but be sure to complement them with a strong identity supported by things not tested in the classroom. As with any mission, individuals must research, show effort, and work with a gameplan.