What Colleges Expect from High School Seniors

By Huntington Learning Center

Everything has led to this: your teen is in the home stretch of high school and starting to think about the future—specifically college. Perhaps your teen has already begun the college research and application process, or maybe you’re just getting started. Either way, it’s important for your teen to think not just about what to share with the colleges to which he or she wants to apply, but what those colleges are seeking from the high school seniors in their applicant pool. 

To guide your teen along this journey, here are three things that colleges expect from high school seniors: 

  1. Effort - When your teen reviews the application requirements on colleges’ websites, chances are he or she will notice similar factors that colleges have at the top of their list of the most important: GPA, grades, rigorous classes, admission test scores, etc. Put simply, colleges want to see that students have given high school their all. They are looking for sincere effort, perseverance through challenging situations in classes, and a commitment to doing their best in school. 
  1. Self-discipline - By the time your teen is a college freshman, it is assumed that he or she is independent and has a strong work ethic. This will be evident in his or her grades and academic performance, but you should also keep an eye on your teen’s study habits and organizational skills. Time management is absolutely critical in college. You will not be around to make sure your teen studies and goes to class. Self-discipline is a must-have. 
  1. Promise - Yes, grades, strength of high school curriculum, and SAT/ACT scores carry more weight than anything else on an application, but colleges especially want to see students’ potential and promise. What did your teen do during his or her four years of high school to be better and make an impact on others? Was your teen a leader? Did he or she persevere in spite of unforeseen and uncontrollable challenges? The more your teen can show that he or she has a bright future ahead and will add value to any campus culture, the better. 

Of course, it is important for your teen to thoroughly read every college’s admissions website to make sure he or she is clear on what that college is looking for. There are many other aspects to the college application that matter as well, including a resume of extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations, counselor recommendations, and the admission essay. 

There’s no doubt that it can be overwhelming to apply to college. If your teen needs support or help or you are concerned that he or she might not possess all of the skills that are essential for college, call Huntington. We work with high school students every day to help them perform their best and get prepared to succeed in college, and we will to do the same for your teen.


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