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College Requirements

What Do Colleges Look For?

First, the college admissions specialists will evaluate your academic record.  They will consider the rigor and variety of the courses you took.  They will note the grades you earned in various subjects, your grade point average, and your cumulative academic grade point average. Your academic record is almost always the most important factor in college admissions.  It is never too late to improve it.  Senior year grades are very important. 
Second, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT are also important.  Before taking the test, most students familiarize themselves with the kinds of questions they will face and practice their test-taking skills. 
Third, your leadership in various organizations and/or community service is also a factor in college admissions.

Counselor and teacher recommendations are often important factors. Some colleges do not ask for teacher recommendations, and a few do not require any recommendations. It is important that you follow the college instructions.  Due to high volume, the counselors and the registrar request that any and all applications that require a letter of recommendation and/or transcripts requests be presented to the counselor or registrar by the end of October at the latest.

The application form you submit may help or hurt your chances substantially. A sloppy, ill-composed application may end your candidacy at a given college. Most students apply online.  Your essay/personal statement should be written by you in your best prose — no grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or stylistic errors.

Again, your nonacademic activities and accomplishments, both in school and out, can be a significant factor in college admissions. This tends to be true more often with selective colleges and definitely with the University of California.  Be sure to let the colleges know about your participation in clubs, sports, athletics, leadership roles, community service, notable achievements, and jobs — both volunteer and paid.  Colleges look for well-rounded, motivated, energetic leaders. Intensive participation in a few activities or projects usually is more significant than lesser involvement in a larger number.  Be specific and detailed about important activities.

Please check the tabs for each grade level for a college planning checklist, which will give you an idea of the steps you'll need to take during that year.

A-G Requirements
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