Tips For Your Student to Increase Their Odds of Acceptance at Competitive Colleges

By Huntington Learning Center

  • Submit the SAT or ACT score. Because high school grading systems (and GPAs) can vary by school, a standardized test can provide college admissions officers a more objective metric for consideration. Colleges are also aware of grade inflation that exists at the high school level, and a standardized test score can show an admissions counselor a student is ready for the college-level workload. A high SAT or ACT score can help a student stand out amongst many applicants.
  • High SAT/ACT scores, strong grades and challenging classes are important. At the top of the list of admission criteria for competitive colleges is academic performance. The top factors for admission decisions are test scores (SAT or ACT), overall high school GPA, grades in college preparatory classes, and strength of curriculum (class rigor).
  • Taking challenging classes is expected. There’s no getting around it: competitive colleges want to see rigor of high school curriculum. Your student will be up against students taking Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and honors classes. This doesn’t mean your student must take every AP class available at their high school, but it does mean they should showcase their strengths. If your student loves math, perhaps that’s the area where they should push themselves.
  • It’s important to stand out in other ways. Competitive colleges like those in the Ivy League receive tens of thousands of applications every year from exceptionally talented students. Grades and scores alone might not get a student into those schools. Admissions officers seek students who are passionate, curious and motivated and who will contribute in unique ways to their institutions. The essay/writing sample and counselor/teacher recommendations are a great way for your student to share these character traits and their goals.
  • With extracurricular activities, think quality over quantity. A resume with a lengthy list of activities is less impressive than one that demonstrates a student’s sincere commitment to the things they do. If your student has loved computers since childhood, being a member of 10 clubs isn’t enough. Encourage them to embrace opportunities to deepen their knowledge, teach others what they know and take on leadership positions. Admissions officers want to see students who are engaged in whatever they do, not just passive participants.

It's not always easy to decipher the specific admission guidelines of selective colleges, but it’s safe to say that they’re all seeking students who make the most of school. They want to accept students who will enrich their campus. Academic excellence is of course the primary benchmark, and high SAT or ACT scores will reflect that. 

If your student has big college goals, call Huntington. We’ll identify your student’s strengths and weaknesses and develop a customized program of instruction—including one-to-one SAT or ACT prep—that will help them reach their dreams. 

Summer is the best time to prepare for the SAT or ACT.  Students have more time to focus on test prep without the conflicts of school, homework and extracurricular activities. Students considering applying to colleges or universities by the early action or early decision deadlines need to have test scores submitted as early as October 15th. Starting a test prep program now will give them time to work on improving their scores. 

Learn more about Huntington’s SAT and ACT prep programs and the Huntington test prep approach at Call 1-800 CAN LEARN to get your student started.