Preparing for College: What Skills Are Universities Looking For?
By Jayme Stewart
Today, more than ever before, a college degree is essential to securing a successful career. Students across the country are facing the prospect of a limited job market upon their entrance into the workforce. For this reason, the competition is more serious and the qualifications of candidates who land jobs more impressive. To gain a competitive edge in the job market, students need to earn college degrees and diversify their academic curriculums. To get into the university of their choice, though, students will have to prepare while still in high school.
Choosing the Right Classes
High school students must take a set curriculum, which exposes them to history, science, math, English, and more. But they also have the opportunity to take elective courses, including foreign languages, art, music, theater, etc. By exploring different fields through their elective courses, students can determine what they are interested in and pursue it right out of the gate when they enter college. In this way, picking the right major will prove a much easier task.
Exploring Leadership Opportunities
Ivy League and other highly-regarded universities expect students to not only attend class, but contribute to a well-rounded and active study body. By participating in extracurricular activities, high school students can demonstrate their leadership skills. These extracurricular activities can range from athletic teams to speech and debate clubs, but must show that the student will prove a positive addition to the college’s student body.
Keeping a High GPA
Above all else, colleges are educational institutions. As such, they want students who will reflect well on their academic offerings, which will in turn improve the reputation of the school. Think about it this way: the success of a school’s students can be seen as the success of the university itself.
For this reason, top colleges want students who know how to study, who dedicate their time to academics, and who are capable of balancing a schedule made up of a variety of classes and extracurricular activities. Maintaining a high grade point average, or GPA, reflects a student’s ability to achieve academic excellence while upholding leadership and other responsibilities.
Scoring Well on Standardized Tests
A great SAT or ACT score is something that many college admissions officers look for. Because these tests are based on skills rather than memorized facts, they show how students are able to apply the ideas they have learned. This is very important to many colleges, as the application of such skills is an integral part of the professional success that follows a collegiate education. In some cases, colleges are “SAT and ACT optional”, but one should remember that in those cases, your grades count more and the college will expect you to provide a creative project, which could be multi media, or an excellent term paper.
Basically, colleges are looking for well-rounded applicants who are able to demonstrate an ability to contribute to both academic programs and student life. High school students, then, should focus on developing both academic and leadership skills, as well as a high GPA and standardized test scores.