To be eligible for college, students have to go through a vetting process wherein they’ll be required to take a standardized test and get interviewed by academicians. Some colleges and universities are stricter with their admissions and application processes, but some are relatively lenient. 

After submitting a college application, students would usually wait for a few weeks to hear a decision from the college or university they applied for. The student will receive either an acceptance letter or a rejection letter. 

If you’re curious about how colleges and universities select their students, this article lists the various factors that affect such decisions:

Academic Performance 

Traditionally, universities look at grade point average (GPA) and scholastic aptitude test scores to determine whether a student deserves to be admitted to their college program or not. Test scores also allow colleges to measure your ability to think critically and solve problems. 

Your GPA will tell the admissions committee about your performance in high school and if your grades were consistent throughout those years. For instance, a rising senior with a 4.0 GPA might get into a top-tier school that doesn’t require SAT or ACT scores, but one with a 3.5 might have to submit them. 

It’s also worth noting that some schools don’t include advanced placement (AP) courses in their GPA calculation, so it can be helpful to take them anyway. Check a GPA calculator from online websites like to help you assess your performance. 

Aside from grades or GPAs, your academic performance is also determined by your class rank. For example, if you rank third out of 78 graduates in your school, then that shows you have a diligent and competitive attitude that may make you a promising student in the university.

Extracurricular Activities 

Your participation in extracurricular activities will have an impact on your college application. If you have a very active role in community service projects, it shows that you aren’t just sitting at home studying all day long while you wait to go off to college. 

These activities also demonstrate leadership skills and involvement in the community, which can be helpful if you intend to be active with organizations within the university. Overall, being active in extracurricular activities can tell university staff that you’re a well-rounded student. 

Extracurricular activities can vary greatly. This may mean being active in varsity teams, being a member of the school orchestra, animal rights clubs, the school’s debate team, or the student council. Volunteering for community work is also a great way to show interest in extracurricular activities. 

Being part of dance groups, theater performances, and choirs is another form of extracurricular activity. Regardless of your interests, you must highlight your participation in these activities to boost your college application. 

Financial Need 

Students are often surprised to hear that their family’s financial situation can be used as an admissions criterion. Still, it’s true, and it’s not just about being able to pay tuition. Colleges want to know if you have enough resources to get through four years without taking on loans or working full-time during school. If you're also applying for a scholarship or grant, colleges want to know that you’ll be able to use it responsibly. 

Family dynamics may also be taken as a factor. If you’re a self-supporting student, the university will most likely consider you for a scholarship or allow you to work part-time as a student assistant. But if your parents have sufficient income and they’re willing to support you through college, then that also affects your application. However, this does not mean that you’ll be rejected. If the school offers merit scholarships based on grades or SAT scores, the admissions committee may consider your parents’ income when determining how much of the award you’ll receive.


There’s a reason why colleges require prospective students to go through a panel of interviews. Aside from being an avenue where academic staff can ask for clarifications about the credentials of each student, it’s also a great opportunity for them to gauge the student’s personality and attitude.

Confidence, outlook, motivation, and willingness to learn or adapt can be measured through these interviews. This could be significant, especially if you decided to go on a gap year or if you have to explain some dips in your academic performance. 

Final Word

Remember that every college or university is different and some might have higher standards than others. Therefore, it’s not easy to predict whether you will be accepted into your dream school or not. Knowing the general factors that can affect your college application, however, gives you an advantage. This will help you position yourself better and ensure that your application puts your best foot forward.