Answers to Common College Admissions Questions


Main, Key Admissions Acceptance Criteria


Academics (grades, rigor, class rank), standardized test scores, application essay(s), recommendations, and outside activities seem to be the main criteria schools use to rank and decide on acceptances. Can you give any more insight into how your school views these components -- as well as discuss any other components you use to judge applications? And trends?


Academic performance and standardized test scores are the crucial elements of the acid test (of acceptance) for many colleges and universities. Does the student have what it takes to succeed? But personal essays, recommendations, and opportunities to get to know applicants on a personal level are also essential, especially for "weaker" students.


Here are the answers to this question from each member of our panel:


Terry E. Whittum, Stetson University
At Stetson we review students on two levels. First, we want to know if the student has the academic preparation to be successful here. We are not interested in recruiting just a freshman class, we want to recruit students who will succeed, graduate, and go on to make their mark in the world. High school course work, grades, and standardized test scores are some of the ways we do this. Secondly, we want students who are a good fit for Stetson. For us that means students with diverse interests, students with an interest in giving back to the community, students who embrace the culture here at Stetson. This part of the decision process is more difficult and involves more "art" than "science". We try to get to know the student through campus visits, telephone calls, recommendations, and even emails. We view recruiting a student very much like a relationship. We try to identify students will interests and skills that will serve them well at Stetson.


Eric Kaplan, Lehigh University
We value strong classroom performance in the high school. This is the best indicator of academic success at Lehigh. Because high schools vary in terms of curriculum and course work, we also look at the SAT or ACT. We do not employ cut off scores, but rather look at test scores within the context of Lehigh's applicant pool. Most students who apply here can succeed. We do not have room to admit all of them and therefore we look at other factors like letters of recommendations, extracurricular activities (including work, community service, religious youth groups or scouting). We also appreciate thoughtful essays. We ask for one short and one longer writing sample.


In recent years, the applicant pool has been growing in size and strength at Lehigh.


Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., Bluffton University
We view grades and test scores as important predictors for future success. We also look closely at the recommendations submitted. For students who are marginal, we ask for and put much weight on an essay. Some consideration is given to outside activities. We look at the complete package of documents submitted when making an admissions decision, but the grades and test scores are arguably the most important.


Dr. Brian Sajko, Eureka College
Though we realize that standardized tests may be culturally biased (the 4.0GPA inner city student who gets a 12 on the ACT), we use grades and standardized test as a projection of how the student will do in college. Rank is more difficult since it depends on the overall quality of the school so we tend to be more understanding on that count. Recommendations that are personal in nature rather than rubber-stamped also help. So, grades and standardized test scores are MOST important to us. Grades reflect the student's maturity (since they had the power and control to affect them) and standardized tests reflect the accumulation of information.


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