1. A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and  may include AP or IB classes.

2. Grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend.  However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are  preferred to all As in less challenging coursework.

3. Solid scores on standardized tests (SAT, ACT). These should be  consistent with high school performance.

4. Passionate involvement in a few activities, demonstrating  leadership and initiative. Depth, not breadth, of experience is  most important.

5. Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselor  that give evidence of integrity, special skills, positive character  traits, and an interest in learning.

6. A well-written essay that provides insight into the student’s unique  personality, values, and goals. The application essay should be  thoughtful and highly personal. It should demonstrate careful and  well-constructed writing.

7. Special talents or experiences that will contribute to an interesting  and well-rounded student body.

8. Demonstrated leadership in activities. Colleges want people  who will arrive prepared and willing to take leadership of student  activities and events.

9. Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school,  leisure pursuits, and more.

10. Demonstrated enthusiasm to attend, often exhibited by campus  visits and an interview, showing an interest toward attending the  college.

Source

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