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What to include in a college application

A college application consists of several different parts that work together to allow universities to discover the qualities of an applicant. While academic criteria are quite important in most universities, there are several other things that they look for in applications other than grades and test scores. Given below are some of the most important components of a successful college application:


An important part of any college application is the essay. It is important to select an essay topic that really means something to you. Always try to write an essay in your own words, style and voice. Do not use big words or complex sentences that you would not normally use in everyday life. The goal is to provide the university a sense of who you truly are. Always proofread the essay and have it read by a few friends and family members to get a different perspective.

Extracurricular achievements

Prepare a statement of all your extracurricular experiences and achievements that demonstrate that you have taken leadership positions in the past, are deeply committed to whatever you do and take pride in activities and tasks that are important to you. Extracurricular activities showcase that you do whatever is possible for the people around you and contribute positively to your community. Universities are looking for vibrant, active students who do more than just cram for exams.


Recommendations form a very important part of any college application. They provide universities an idea about the way you work and study, your overall attitude, how well you function in a classroom environment and how you contribute to your community. When getting recommendations from teachers, it is best to approach those who know you the best and will be able to discuss you as a person instead of just another student. Universities want to know more about your work ethics and your curiosity level.

Avoid getting recommendation letters that are generic. The best recommendation letters are specific and thoughtful. They should talk about your progress, your contributions and your personal characteristics. It is also important to ensure that your application has the right number of recommendations. For example, two recommendations that provide a good insight into your application will work really well. However, adding a third recommendation that simply praises you without adding anything meaningful to your application will just be distracting.

Test scores and transcripts

Transcripts are what the universities will look for first in any application package. Universities consider the overall record, the courses you studied and the curriculum to understand if you are academically competent and how they reflect on your overall potential. Standardized test scores can add a little weight to your application but are not a vital component of the application. However, if you have taken a few tests and have good scores, it is always a good idea to include them in your application.

A college application needs to be thoughtfully put together based on your understanding of what the college is looking for in its future students.