What Colleges Look For in Students

Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso

Content Writer At Gradehacker

What Colleges Look For in Students

As you wonder what colleges look for in students, you know that there are many variables that come into play when getting accepted into college.

With so many applicants competing for admission, it is important for students to understand what colleges look for and how they can stand out from the crowd.

At Gradehacker, the #1 non-traditional student resource, we dedicate ourselves to helping students get the best out of their college experience

We now are providing this information that can help you get through that college application process with ease!

colleges look for in students-student sitting in college campus on break

The College Admission Process: What You Need to Know

During the admissions process, it is known that college admission officers look for a variety of factors to determine which applicants are the best fit for their institution.

When it comes to what colleges look for in students, there are a few key components that stand out. The most important of these is academic performance. 

This includes your GPA, test scores such as the SAT and ACT, and any other school-related performance indicators. All of these factors provide insight into your school performance and can give admissions officers an idea of how you will handle college-level coursework.

How to Succeed in Your College Admissions Process

There are requirements that you can fulfill that will help your chance of admission.

Meeting College Expectations: What Are They Looking For in Students?

When it comes to meeting expectations, colleges want to see that you can handle the demands of college-level coursework and if you are willing to put in the effort and dedication necessary for success

In order to know that, they will check:


SAT is a college admissions exam widely used in the US that measures students’ knowledge and skills. Standardized tests are an important factor in the college admission process, as they provide a fair and equal way to compare applicants.

During the admissions decision, colleges will check for your scores on the three tests:

The test can last three to four hours to complete.

colleges look in students- college student learning during class in the classroom.

Admission Test Scores: SAT

You can get between 200 and 800 points from each section depending on how many you got right, making it a possible total of 1600. 

The number of questions you answer correctly is added up and calculated to the score ranges.

As a relief for you, wrong or skipped answers won’t deduct your earned scores from your correct ones. 

Based on the college ranking website Best Colleges, the average result in 2022 was 1050, the same average score result in 2019

Taking those numbers into account will help you know your possibilities, meet your score goal, and how you can stand out from the average.

Test Dates, Fees, and Registration

To do the exam, you’ll need to register online on the College Board website.

The SAT exam has a registration fee of $60. However, there is a fee waiver available for some students.

This year you’ll have three chances to take this exam and register for it.

First Chance:

Second Chance:

Third Chance:

colleges look in students-Student Taking Test in College

ACT Scores

The ACT scores are also used in the admissions process as an alternative test to the SAT.

You can take both exams or just one of these two, but remember to see what requirements your academic institution has before making that decision! 

The exam has four sections:

In addition, there is an optional writing test where you’ll be writing an essay in a 40-minute time period. 

This test can last three to four hours to complete.

Admission Test Scores: ACT

This test has the same scoring evaluation as SAT exam, the difference is that in the ACT test, your score goal has to be between 1–36. 

Also, just like SAT, wrong answers or skipped ones won’t rest value from the scores you get for correct results. 

Based on the report provided by the ACT website, the average score goal in 2022 and expected in 2023 is 20.3 out of 36.

When available, you can view your scores online by signing into your MyACT account.

ACT Customer Support won’t provide your scores through any other form, such as phone, email, chat, or fax.

Test Dates, Fees, and Registration

To take this test, you’ll have to register online on the ACT website. The process takes about 30 minutes, and you’ll need four things:

  1. Computer with Internet
  2. Credit Card or another payment method
  3. High School course details 
  4. Headshot photo

The Test registration fees are:

If after you take the test, you want to add or remove the writing test, there is a charge fee of $25.00. You can count on a fee waiver if you need it. 

As a college student, things can be expensive, so for you to be prepared with the best resources, we created a video where we explain how you can manage loans and afford everything with the tranquility you need!

This year you’ll have multiple chances to take this exam and register for it, and except for New York residents, that won’t count with the options provided in July.

April Chance:

June Chance:

July Chace: (Doesn't apply to the state of NY)

September Chance:

December Chance:

In case you miss the late registration deadline, you can ask for standby testing. You’ll qualify if available seats, test materials, and staff are available after all registered students have been admitted for their test option.

colleges look in students-College Student at Desk


One of the things that weighs the most is the GPA we earn for our future college admission. 

GPA stands for Grade Point Average. This number will be calculated from the grades you earn when studying. 

The GPA is on a scale from 0.0 to 4.0, with 4.0 being the highest.  The average high school GPA is 3.00.

Nowadays, you can earn college credits in multiple ways, so as a prospective student, you won’t have to stress too much about getting accepted. 

One of the most accessible ways we’ve found until now is to earn college credits with youtube, and you can find more information about it in our blog! 

The GPA requirements for college admission vary by university or college, with some of the top academic institutions requiring students to have GPAs of 3.5 or higher.

On the other hand, some schools may be more lenient in their admissions requirements, allowing students to apply with a lower GPA. You can check our college list that provides quality education with accessible requirements for you!

AP Program

AP Exams are another way to prove your worth for college admissions

AP stands for Advanced Placement, and these tests measure students’ knowledge across different high school courses.

This program offers 38 different courses under the subjects of:

If you want to boost your learning skills you need to know what learning style suits best for you! Have you tried visual learning? We recommend you to watch our video explaining the study habits you can take from it and how helpful it is for you!

Whether before or during college, always being at a high level to reach your scores can be stressful. We want you to have the best college experience, so we encourage you to check our tips to stay motivated!

Admission Test Scores: AP

AP exams are graded on a 1–5 scale, with 5 being the highest score. 

Most colleges require students to have at least a 3 or higher in order to receive credit and placement into college classes.

Wrong or skipped answers won’t rest value from the scores you get for correct results.

Most AP exams are divided into multiple choice and free response. Depending on the exam, these sections may be weighted equally. 

This test has the same scoring evaluation as ACT and SAT.

Test Dates, Fees, and Registration

The AP Exams for 2023 will be administered in schools for two weeks in May:

AP coordinators are responsible for ensuring students know when and where to take their exams. They must provide clear instructions on the test’s day, time, and location.

You’ll need to register first to sign up for the AP exam. The  process is very simple:

1) Sign In on My AP account and join your class section

2) Register or confirm your registration 

3) Pay for the exam

Your school’s AP coordinator will then arrange for the necessary materials and collect all fees.

You may be eligible for a $35 College Board fee reduction per AP Exam if you have significant financial need.


International Baccalaureate (IB) is an internationally recognized program that provides a rigorous academic curriculum for students.

The IB program offers students the opportunity to pursue their studies in a diverse range of disciplines. It also encourages students to develop their appreciation for global issues and cultures.

The IB Diploma Program is a two-year program, and it requires students to complete six courses within three subject categories. 

You can choose:

1) Language and Literature 

2) Individuals and Societies 

3) Experimental Sciences 

4) Mathematics

5) Arts and Electives.

Students must also take the Theory of Knowledge course and complete the Creativity, Action, Service ( CAS) program.

Admission Test Scores: IB

IB exams are scored on a 1-7 scale, with 7 being the highest.

For college admission, students typically need to earn a total of 24 points over 6 different subjects, with at least 12 from higher level courses and 9 from standard level courses.

Test Dates, Fees, and Registration

For 2023, IB Exams will be held in schools from:

Registration deadline: April 20th

IB coordinators are responsible for ensuring students know when and where to take the exams. They must provide clear instructions on the day, time, and location of the tests.

Registering for the IB Exam is fairly straightforward and consists of the following steps:

1) Create an account on the IB Organization website.

2) Choose the exam you wish to take and register for it.

3) Pay the required fee, which varies depending on your location and other factors.

4) Contact your school’s IB Coordinator for additional information about the exam.

Each individual student pays a fee for their chosen subjects. Theory of knowledge and extended essay assessment have no fees for diploma-category students.

Each test has a fee of $119.

Honors Student

Honors students are recognized as those who have demonstrated higher academic achievement. They are often rewarded with special recognition for their hard work and dedication.

You can be an honor student if:

  1. You are recognized for your academic achievement
  2. You are enrolled in honors classes or honors programs
  3. You are member of the National Honor Society or another honor society

Honors students typically take more challenging classes than the average student and must maintain a high GPA in order to stay in the program. 

Most schools will require honors students to maintain at least an overall 3.0 GPA.

Extracurricular Activities

Colleges and universities also look for students who are engaged in extracurricular pursuits. These activities can show that you have the skills and dedication needed to perform well in college.

Participating in clubs, sports teams, internships, volunteer work, and community service, or any other activity that shows your passion and commitment can help set you apart from other applicants.

Colleges also look for commitment and engagement in the community. 

Being active in your community shows that you care about the people around you and can provide valuable opportunities to gain experience and make connections.

Transitioning to college is not easy. It is a big change in your life, and not everyone is prepared to handle such an amount of pressure! This is why we think it is important to knowt how we can take care of your mental health during college and make it the best experience!

The College You Want Can be Looking For You!

Getting accepted into the college of your choice requires a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s important to remember that colleges are looking for students with the qualities and skills needed to succeed.

Showing commitment, passion, and determination will help you stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of getting accepted into the college you want.

Getting accepted by a college is a very satisfying moment, and it can open up a lot of amazing opportunities for you. So, start preparing yourself and make sure that your college application is the best it can be!

But we know it can be a complex process. And if you are looking for a helping hand, don’t hesitate to book a meeting with us, so we can help you navigate through your first steps.

If you want to maximize your chances of college success, check out our blogs for helpful tips and advice!

Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso is a content creator passioned for writing, music, films, and the arts. At Gradehacker, she helps to improve non-traditional students life’s by finding and providing the most useful information, so they can always progress. You can find her on LinkedIn.