How would your factors stack up using the rubic?
When making admissions decisions, colleges and universities in the US don’t just look at grades and test scores. There are a myriad of factors that admissions officers consider when evaluating college applications, and it’s essential to understand what colleges are looking for to have the best chance of admission to your top-choice colleges.
Colleges want to build well-rounded classes made up of specialists who can contribute to the campus community in ways other than high academic performance. Taking only the applicants with the top grades and test scores may not make for a diverse or well-rounded student body. This is why in addition to the “hard factors” (GPA, grades, and test scores) of a student’s application, colleges also place great weight on the “soft factors” (essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and demonstrated interest) in order to gain a full picture of applicants. How these components are evaluated, however, can be confusing to families and make the college admissions process somewhat mysterious.
The Admissions Rubric
Most US universities use the “holistic review” process when evaluating college applications. This means admissions officers emphasize the applicant as a whole person, not just his or her academic achievements, so soft factors may be given just as much consideration as the empirical data present in hard factors.
To evaluate these factors, admissions officers use a “rubric” as a guide. Rubrics are not one-size-fits-all and differ from school to school, but most assess these core components of an applicant’s profile (in no particular order):
- Course Rigor
- Standardized Test Scores
- Extracurricular Activities
- Recommendation Letters
- Strength of School
- Demonstrated Interest
In most rubrics, each factor is evaluated against the admissions standards for the school, and whether it is above, equal to, or below the standard outlined in the rubric.