What Do Colleges Look At Besides Grades? [FAQs]

When it comes to applying for college can be a stressful time for students. It’s natural to worry about grades and test scores, deciding whether you get accepted. But what else do colleges look at when making their decisions?

What Do Colleges Look At Besides Grades?

Let’s take a closer look.

Extracurricular Activities

Colleges are interested in more than just your grades and test scores. They want to see that you have taken the initiative to pursue activities outside the classroom that showcases your interests and skills. This could include volunteering, joining student organizations, taking on leadership roles, or participating in sports teams. These activities help show colleges that you are a well-rounded student motivated to make a difference in your community.

Personal Statement

Your statement is an opportunity for you to tell your story and share experiences that have shaped who you are today. College admissions officers will read through your essay to get an idea of your character, values, beliefs, and goals for the future. Your report should reflect what makes you unique so colleges can better understand your identity.

Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters from teachers or employers also play an essential role in the college application process. These letters provide insight into how well you work with others, how much effort you put into tasks, and how capable you manage various projects or assignments given to you by people in authority positions. It’s essential to ask those writing the letters ahead oo they have enough time to write something meaningful about your abilities and contributions.

When applying for college, students need to remember that there are more than just grades and test scores looked at by admissions officers when considering applications. Extracurricular activities show initiative beyond academics, while personal statements give colleges a glimpse into who each applicant is as an individual—and recommendation letters further demonstrate these qualities by providing insight into how well students work with others and complete tasks assigned to them.

While solid academic achievements carry weight during the application process, there is no denying that other factors come into play when deciding who gets accepted!


  • Colleges look at more than just your grades. They consider your extracurricular activities, community involvement, and leadership skills. Moreover, many colleges seek out students with unique talents or skill sets that can contribute to their school’s campus life and culture.
  • When applying to college, provide evidence of who you are as a person by highlighting your accomplishments outside of the classroom, such as awards received, volunteer work undertaken, or unique talents. This will demonstrate to admissions officers that you are academically capable and can bring something unique and valuable to their school.
  • Don’t forget about writing a personal essay or statement that conveys your passions and interests beyond academics. This is a significant opportunity for your personality to shine through and for admissions officers to understand better what kind of student you are.


What else do colleges look for when assessing applicants besides grades?

When assessing applicants to colleges, grades are one factor in the equation. However, there are many other factors that colleges consider when reviewing applications. Colleges look for evidence of skills such as problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, and leadership. They also look for extracurricular to demonstrate the student’s commitment to a given field and community involvement.

Other essential factors include letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, essays, and statements of purpose that illustrate a student’s interests, goals, and qualities, along with test scores on standardized examinations such as SAT/ACT.

Are interviews taken into account by colleges when deciding whether or not to accept an applicant?

Yes! College interviews are often taken into account when making admissions decisions. Through an interview, college admissions officers can better understand the applicant’s personality and qualifications beyond what is seen on paper.

Interviews typically allow students to express how they set themselves apart from other applicants. Additionally, it is an opportunity for them to explain any discrepancies between their academic transcript and their qualifications for the program they are applying for.

How does volunteering or interning play into college admissions decisions?

Volunteering or interning experiences can benefit college applications as they provide evidence of initiative and determination beyond what may be found on paper regarding grades or test scores. Colleges appreciate seeing that students have applied themselves outside of the classroom in meaningful ways; they like to see students using their knowledge and skills to help their community in some capacity while still setting time aside for academics.

Volunteering gives applicants insight into potential career paths while providing evidence of personal growth and learning experiences that could otherwise not be gained through standard classroom instruction alone.

Can writing samples be used as part of a college application?

Absolutely! When submitting writing samples with your application materials, it is essential to make sure they demonstrate topics relevant to your area(s) of interest while also demonstrating your ability to convey ideas effectively through written text.

Writing samples can showcase an applicant’s strengths in critical thinking and analysis, which can be beneficial when applying to specific majors or fields at universities due to the emphasis placed on writing in higher education settings. It shows passion and dedication towards a particular topic even if you don’t have any related coursework experience yet. Essay samples can also provide insight into potential career paths if you are particularly well-versed in a particular subject area.

Does athletics play a role in college admission decisions?

Athletic participation can influence the outcome of college applications depending on the institution being applied to since some schools value athleticism more than others do within their culture or environment.

Collegiate sports teams often serve as secondary recruiting grounds where coaches will scout out prospective athletes among high school ranks who demonstrate skill sets that coincide with team needs or goals each season. It should be noted, however, that every school has different requirements for athletic participation.

Hence, it is essential for applicants looking at this route as part of their application process to check with specific schools about what criteria need to be met before taking action toward gaining admission based on athletic prowess alone.

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