College Requirements: Knowledge is Power!

college requirementsCollege requirements can induce fear among even the best students in high school. Requirements for admissions vary greatly from one school to another, but there are a few uniform factors used for evaluating your application at every school. Records such as test scores, GPA and your transcript help admissions get your academic abilities evaluated. Extracurricular activities, essays and interviews also assist admissions in learning what you are like as an individual.

You will usually be able to find the specific college requirements for admissions in the website of your preferred college. For a step-by-step guide that shows you how to get accepted into one of the top 3 colleges of your choice here is a course you might want to check out. 

The factors that are commonly considered by college application evaluation teams including teacher recommendations, application essays, work experience, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, Advanced Placement exams, class rank, courses, ACT or SAT scores, GPA, ethnic or religious background and residency.

For many students, college requirements can be overwhelming. Aside from having to write personal statements for every college according to its own specified guidelines, there is endless paperwork to be filled out. Students also need to make sense of each of the admission requirements for every college. While every school has its own specified requirements as to how high grade point averages and student’s standardized tests should be, most colleges will evaluate each candidate based on a the same criteria group, generally. In the United States, there are thousands of universities and colleges.

There are certificate programs, 2-year schools and 4-year schools. Students can work for advanced degrees or undergraduate degrees in specific subjects. Some colleges are for-profit; some are private while some are public. Every school has a complete undergraduate standard for admission for potential students but many schools share some of the same requirements. If you are working on your admissions papers, here is a course entitled College Writing Essentials that helps you  learn how to write your college essay from sentence to paragraph.

Application Form

You will have to fill out a formal application when you apply for admissions to a university either in hard copy or online. Many applications involve a fee for processing so when applying to schools, you will need to take this into consideration. To spare you extra expenses, you might want to apply just to the top five schools you are really interested in or the ones which will likely admit you. Some colleges waive this fee if you visit in person to see the campus and meet with the admission team.

By the way you might want to check out this course entitled The College Application that gives you expert advice to apply successfully to a college in the USA.

High School Diploma

Majority of colleges in the USA require that students admitted have a diploma from high school with completed course work in English language, math, science and liberal arts. Candidates that completed programs in home-schooling as opposed to going through high school graduation are expected to provide materials such as personal recommendations or coursework portfolios instead of a diploma from high school. A GED might also be accepted, depending on the college.

While no two colleges are alike, required courses often included at least four years of English, three years of science, three years of math, three years of social studies and two years of foreign languages.

Schools have varying minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements for college admissions. You will need higher grades the more selective the school is. It has been noted by the US News and World Report that schools also look for students who take Advanced Placement courses and who have taken classes that were challenging during their career in high school. Again,  most schools also have minimum requirements for English, foreign languages, science and math.

Again, a GPA is necessary for admissions to college. I would like to emphasize that the more well-known or prestigious the college, such as schools that are Ivy League tend to have higher requirements for GPA admissions. Many students that have a low GPA overall opt to apply to more specialized, smaller schools where satisfactory subject marks have relevance to the intended major of a student and will be sufficient for fulfilling college requirements.

Recommendation Letter

At least one recommendation from a guidance counselor or a teacher is also required by most schools. It is a good idea to request a recommendation from a teacher who can give an honest assessment of your abilities and character and with whom you have had a good relationship with. You might also ask a mentor such as a coach or employer with whom you had worked with during your career in high school. It is always a good idea to give the person doing your recommendation lots of time to write it.

College Application Essays

Potential students are also required by many four-year schools to write essays for their application. Essays help colleges learn more about students and whether or not they are a good fit for the school. Your essay is a great opportunity to let the school know the lessons you’ve learned and the challenges you’ve overcome. They allow officers of admissions to learn your activities outside of the classroom and see your personality.

Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

Many universities in America are looking for students that are well-rounded that are also involved actively in extracurricular activities and not just excel in academics. Extracurricular activities include volunteering, sports teams and after school clubs.

At times, students who are active in these activities and who maintain good grades get accepted over the ones with an academic, flawless record but no extra activities. In particular, the winner of an award for volunteering or the president of the Student Union or those that have gained recognition for becoming involved and demonstrate leadership will stand out.

Standardized Tests

Majority of colleges in the US requires students to achieve specific scores on either the ACT or the SAT examinations. Some colleges also make it a requirement to get certain scores on specialized SAT II subject scores on the test. What you first need to do as a student is to verify the specific score requirements and specific examinations of each college you are applying to.

More high school students reportedly take the SAT than the ACT, according to the US News and World Report. However, most colleges do consider the score you get from either of these tests during the process of admissions. The tests are designed to assess your skills and knowledge in areas such as English, math and science. You can take these tests more than one time to submit your highest score when applying for college.

Students from the US who are applying to schools in another country do not take the ACT or the SAT, which only American colleges require in most cases. On the other hand, students who get high scores on these exams should find out whether any of the universities in another country will consider standardized, high test scores. Even if countries like Canada don’t require it, strong scores will give students from America an advantage over other candidates.

International Students

Since US universities and colleges are extremely competitive, there are additional college admission requirements that international students applying must meet. They need to develop English proficiency by meeting the TOEFL score requirements, which stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Also, international students need to take the ACT or the SAT at an overseas testing center even if they won’t need to do this for college admission requirements in their own country. Many times, they need to meet the same requirements of scoring as American students.


Check with all the schools you are applying to in order to make sure you meet the right deadlines for applications and submissions. If you fail to submit the appropriate college requirements on these dates, you might be rejected from the admission process or miss out on your top school. With all the deadlines, it can be hard to get into college.

The good news is that most high school students apply during their senior year and most of the requirements would be complete by the time college application season comes along. It is always a good idea to start preparing the required documents of admissions early to decrease the unnecessary stress you might be feeling. Here is an article you might be interested in entitled 5 Wacky Scholarships for the Enterprising College Student.


Some procedures for admissions might require extra information and more details like a resume or references. Schools that are music or art-specific might need to you provide music compilations or artwork. Plus you might need to audition for theater-related or vocal programs.

Hope this helps! Here is a course entitled How to Choose a College or University that might help you decide which the perfect one for you is. After all, making the right choice about which college to attend is important and can affect the rest of your life.