• P.O. Box 2061 Princeton, New Jersey 08543
1.609.608.6258 Contact Us
May 1, 2021

What are Colleges Looking For? Part 2


  • Too often students decide on a dream school like it is the only school in the world they can succeed in. Obviously, this perspective in naïve. Abundant are the students denied by their dream school, only to flourish at another. Given that there are over 4000 four-year colleges in the US, and at least several hundred truly quality schools, the odds are high that you’ll find numerous universities to excel, cultivate your interests and reach your goals.


  • It is all about Fit
  • The 20 C’s
  • Summary



  • It is all About Fit
    • It is often only after introspection and self-discovery that you find a field of study that sparks your interest. And only then search for a targeted list of colleges with the resources, faculty and staff to nurture and support your interests. It is all about finding the best fit college. It’s a two-way street. You like what the school offers and they like what you bring to campus. Your job is you assist the college in seeing your best-self and true potential. Are you up to the challenge?


  • The 20 C’s


  • Let’s discover the essential qualities the college seek in their applicants


  • Competence
    • At their core, colleges are academic institutions. They want you to thrive and contribution from Day One to campus. Your success in the classroom, taking rigorous coursework, provides evidence of your ability to grow, progress and succeed.


  • Critical – Thinker
    • Institutions of higher learning look for students with analytical skills and common sense, who perhaps can solve some of the world’s problems.


  • Conscience
    • Students who know the difference between right from wrong, and show caring and compassion, appeal to colleges.


  • Curiosity
    • Intellectual vitality and the love of learning for the sake of learning highlight traits desired by colleges.


  • Clarity of Purpose
    • Students unclear of their purpose in life, and who have yet to find their primary interest is quite common. However, students with passion, ambition and achievement are considerably compelling candidates. They have the edge.


  • Core Values
    • Students with fundamental principles, in particularly those with a strong moral compass get great attention from colleges.


  • Courage
    • Bravery and perseverance, in the presence of adversity, is a predictor of success in life. Those that overcome obstacles, evolving from underdog to top dog, are sought by universities.


  • Culture
    • As before, it is all about fit. You must fit the college’s culture and support the university mission to have a chance at getting in.


  • Climate
    • Were you raised in a cold or frigid region? Then attending school in the Northeast or Midwest is not far-fetched, nor untenable. Some students regret going to their top choice because the climate is adverse to their liking; and they get homesick.


  • Clubs
    • Will you engage in the student communities, not just participate, but lead student organizations? College is a “full-contact” sport! It is not for the passive.


  • Contributions
    • Will you add to the vibrancy of campus, contributing academically, intellectually, scholarly, athletically, spiritually or otherwise? If yes, then you increase your odds of getting in.


  • Character
    • Fine character in the form of honesty, empathy, diligence, fairness, professionalism and wise choices are well sought after traits by colleges.


  • City/Country
    • Are you from the local area or from another part of the world? Either way, you bring diversity in the form of achievements, activities, experiences, education and perspectives to campus.


  • Composure
    • Can you keep calm when those about you are losing their heads? Coolness under pressure is as ideal in sports as it is in life.


  • Curriculum
    • If your experiences, coursework and goals match the culture, classes, curriculum and resources of the college, you increase your odds of acceptance.


  • Compelling
    • Can you tell a good story? Can you argue effectively and articulately why you are a great fit a “X” university? If you have the right metrics and articulate your brand clearly, you have a fair shot at getting in.


  • Commitment
    • Show continued growth, development and progression of your interests over time, in your classes and extracurriculars, the colleges will be impressed.


  • Collaboration
    • Do you work well on projects with others, and play nice in the sandbox with the other children? In other words, can you work well on a team, contribute to a spirited discussion and make others around you better? If yes, the colleges are going to like you!


  • Comical
    • Are you fun to be around? If you are bossy, arrogant, an otherwise a pain or distraction, colleges will select the “nice” guy. How will they know? Through your guidance counselor and teacher recommendations.


  • Summary:


The key to bonding with the colleges is to show the university how well you fit, how you’ll thrive and how the college benefits from you. You must show integrity and humility, and excellence. Are you up to the challenge?


Need help applying to residency? Contact mrichardson@ivybound.com or text Dr. Richardson at 609.608.6258.