Factors that play into admission decisions for colleges are discussed in detail in the 2017 State of College Admissions report. Chapter 3 of this helpful document looks at the variety of variables that go into a high school senior's application, ranging from GPA to extracurricular activities, and the weight each variable has on the college admissions decision.
On page 17 of the report, the variables are broken down into the percentage of colleges that categorize them into considerable, moderate, limited, and no importance.
For high schoolers, this information can be a helpful guide to understand what colleges are looking for in applicants. They can then focus their time and energy on the areas that will not only get them into the university of their choice, but also will get them the most scholarship dollars.
For Lutheran High School, this report is a good indicator for us to ensure we are focusing our efforts for our students in the right direction. If GPA is something a college weighs heavily, we can assess if we are equipping and supporting students to achieve the highest GPA possible. If ACT and SAT scores are most important, then we know to expend resources on a strong college test prep program.
This infographic breaks down the top 4 factors that colleges find most important. For example, 77% percent of colleges find Grades in College Prep Courses and Grades in All Courses to be of considerable importance. The drop off after that is sharp. There's more than a 20% drop the next most important factor for college admissions: Strength of Curriculum.
We've also listed out two factors that many students and parents weigh heavily, but colleges often do not: Class Rank and Subject Test Scores (like AP or IB tests).