College Admissions Cares About More Than Just GPA and Test Scores

While your test scores and GPA are very important to your college admission chances, they’re not all schools care about. Lots of students have high test scores or have a high GPA, but not all take the opportunity to do more. In addition to these two things, here’s what else a college may be looking for (and can help your acceptance chances):

A college building with a mowed lawn in front of it.

Extracurricular Activities

Colleges love to see you take initiative both in school and out. No matter your interest, there is most likely a club, sport, or organization you can join. These could be things like Student Government, Chess Club, Varsity Soccer, Math Team, Honors, Biology Club, or something else.

And not all have to be through your school either. If your town has a softball or baseball team, or any other sport, for locals and you take part, that counts. Or if you take part in local swimming lessons, either participating yourself or teaching others, that counts as well. Many schools and towns even have video game clubs if that’s your thing!

If you’re not a part of any extracurricular activities yet, now is the time to join them. Look into what your school and area offer. You’re bound to find something that suits your passion.


Similar to extracurricular activities, colleges like to see students who go the extra mile and dedicate their time to a worthy cause. It shows you care about something more than yourself and you’re willing to set aside time, resources, and energy for others.

For volunteer opportunities, you can start with your school and counselor’s office. They may have suggestions for the area. Some places to look around in your city include animal shelters, local government, libraries, elementary schools, food panties, archaeology groups, and health programs. You might also want to look for a volunteer opportunity that matches your future major.

Think about what interests you, but remember to keep up participation! Don’t slack after a few weeks. The connections you make while volunteering can prove valuable in later years.


Leadership is a great example of taking initiative. Whether it’s on a huge senior project or sports team, you can set an example by leading others. This is a quality that colleges like to see in students as it gives high schoolers the chance to overcome unique challenges while working with others.

Think about your daily life. You can think about work, home life, sports, school, extracurricular activities, and volunteering. Or something else! Do you demonstrate leadership qualities in any of these places? This may just be something you want to include on your application.

Almost all colleges want to see you as a person beyond your schoolwork. They want to know what kind of student you are after school hours, what you participate in, and what drives you. Passion is important, and showing passion outside of the classroom can show the college that you’re prepared for challenges. Getting straight A’s or scoring high on the SAT or ACT isn’t easy and is definitely something to be proud of, but make sure you’re going the extra mile and setting yourself apart from the other applicants.

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