What is Selectivity and It’s Meaning for You

When we begin a discussion about college admissions we need to understand the college vocabulary and one of these words is Selectivity. Admission officers evaluate applications in different ways, depending in how selective, or competitive, their college is to get in. The following are the current levels of selectivity you will see as you look to colleges to attend.

Most  Selective:    At these schools there are as many as 10 to 15 students applying for each spot available. These are the 25 dream schools that are looking for the very top students from their graduating class that had grade point averages of 4.0 and the perfect ACT of 36 and SAT 2400. Admission officers look carefully to every aspect of a student’s high school experience since all applicants are strong academically, other factors, especially the essay, are critical. These are the schools that will have student interviews to make final decisions of applicatants. This group of schools receive a great deal of publicity yet they are really a small number of schools with generally small freshman class sizes around 1200 students.

Highly Selective:   These schools also have high numbers of students competing for a spot, these days, about 4 to 5 for each chair. Many of these schools are the number one school in the country for different majors and attract very high quality students and have great competition. The admission officers are looking for students to have graduated in the top 10% of their class with high 3 point grade averages and an ACT test score of 27+ or SAT of 1220+. As with the Very Selective schools, the whole high school experience is considered where essays can be the key to getting in. Highly Selective schools number around 100 in the country and have freshmen class sizes of 1200 to 7000+.

Selective:   Schools that are selective are looking for students that have graduated in the top 25% of their high school class. The test scores range they are interested are an ACT of 22-27 or SAT of 1030-1220. They consider course work, grades, test scores, recommendations, and essays. The major factor may be whether you are ready for college-level study. It’s possible to be denied admission because of a weakness or a lack of interest in higher education.

Traditional:   Students should be in the top 60% of their high school class with an ACT test score of 20-23 or SAT of 950-1070. Acceptable grades are considered with these test scores and counselors are generally looking for a 2.5 high school GPA.

Liberal:   Liberal colleges focus on whether applicants meet minimum requirements and whether there’s room for more students. Acceptable grades are often the only requirement beyond an interest in college study. The SAT® I or ACT may be required, but test scores are usually used for course placement, not admission. Student graduating in the lower 50% of their high school class and an ACT of 18-21 or SAT 870-990 may be accepted.

Open:   Everyone is accepted with a high school diploma. There are no GPA or ACT/SAT requirements at all. Test scores and courses completed are used to determine if the student needs remediation. Generally these schools are found in the Junior College System.

Admission Factors

Selective colleges consider these factors for admission:

  • courses taken
  • counselor/teacher recommendations
  • ethnicity
  • grades
  • application questions and essays
  • geographic location
  • grade point average
  • personal interview
  • alumni relationship
  • rank in class
  • activities outside the classroom
  • major/college applied to
  • admission test results
  • special talents and skills

There’s no general agreement about which of these factors are ranked more important. However, most admission officers place the most weight on your high school record.

How Important Are Extracurricular Activities?

The significance of activities has been exaggerated. While schools do consider them, they’re looking to see if you’ve shown a long-term commitment in one or two areas. Schools are looking for busy students that are engaged with their interests that also get good grades. If I can offer a rule of thumb it would be that you should show about 40 hours a semester in an outside activity if you are not active in any school sports, clubs or leadership activities. Do not use just any activity or cause, make sure that it supports your true interests and beliefs, preferably related to your future studies.

 Matching Admission Standards:   I want to make sure that you understand that higher selectivity does not mean that a school is better than another. It does mean that a school will have a higher percentage of high–achieving students that you will be competing with for your college grades. Just as there are a number of selectivity levels there are now more schools offering admission to students than any time in history. The goal is to find a number of schools that meet your needs for your college education instead of focusing on one school and limiting your choices. Our society often associates exclusivity with higher value, but that notion isn’t true for college. Find colleges that provide a good match with your interests, objectives, characteristics, and needs.

Please look for more information concerning picking the right school on this blog. You can see more information on this subject and being College Ready at cps-illinois.com

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