How Important is GPA to College Admissions?

This Wednesday, The Daily Nickel got a flood of emails about our education section and the college admissions process. The top question was what are the five most important things beyond GPA in the college admissions process? Is a 4.0 a guarantee for entry, and How important are our different activities? We looked into it and have compiled the answers to all of these questions in five simple points. 

1. GPA is important, but not a deal breaker. GPA is a formula designed to give universities insight into what kind of person you are, but at the end of the day, it is just one number. Having an "ok" GPA, which fluctuates based on schools, is not going to break your entire application process. Ignore the student profiles of the class year before you because they were being judged on different criteria. Your GPA is not standing in the same line as the year before you applied and thus will be held to a different standard than what colleges were looking for in the past. Yet at the same time GPA is important to the overall equation, but only one part, which is why it is important to focus on every angle you can play with your application. 

2. Letters of Recommendation can make or break you. Unlike your student response essay's or personal statements, the letters of recommendation give the college a look into you as a person. While most colleges say you only need to submit two submitting that third one from someone, other than a teacher, can be crucial to painting the picture of who you are. Remember that college admissions counselors know what to look for and can see when you are trying to tell them what they want to hear, but they understand and realize that your recommendation letters are a clear vision into who you are. These letters are the only other person a college will hear from beside you, and it is important that they are a good representation of you as a person. 

3. The Personal Statement. Your personal statement is your chance to show the colleges what kind of person you are, and what you do in your everyday life. It is important that you don't give excuses for anything in your statement, but that instead, you frame every misstep or fall as a way you grew as a person. For example, I failed calculus because I couldn't study for the tests because I was sick, is a very bad thing to say to a college. Instead frame your failures in a way that says, I failed Calculus because I was sick, but I learned that it is important to realize that everybody makes mistakes and falls and it should be noted that I went back into the class in the summer and A{ced} the course.  This shows colleges that yes you didn't do well but you didn't let a small mistake stop you in the path you wanted to achieve. Also, use your personal statement to give the college a look into your life, and don't add a single word that doesn't advance yourself or make you look like the best possible candidate. 

4. Extra Curricular’s or Volunteer Work.  Both of these are a great way to show colleges and Universities how you are outside of class, and both are equally important in the decision process. It is important to note that doing 1,000(s) of things with little leadership or involvement is not a plus but a minus and shows the schools that you are not committed. Choose a few things that you love and really get involved in what you do, show passion, and never give up until you are ready. It is clear to understand that you need to do things that you want and doing something because it looks good on an application is the worst possible thing you could do. 

5. The BIG picture. The big picture in the college admission process is that you need to look beyond your GPA and understand that you are a story to each college and they have limited time to build that story. Everything that you submit to a University should help to advance the picture of who you are and what you are doing. It is better to have an "OK/GOOD" GPA, "Ok/Good" test scores, many activities, clubs, volunteer work, leadership positions, and a passion for the school than to be a study guy/girl with nothing to show but your GPA. 

When you look at these five points you should realize that getting involved and being the best possible person for yourself will help you get into a good college. If you focus on getting into a college and do everything to achieve that goal you are doing nothing but making yourself miserable. Do things you love, do them well, and study hard and you will be able to get into a great college that propels you to a great life. (Remember it is not the name of the college that should be the only criteria, but the education you intend on receiving their).

The Daily NickelComment