College admission officers read thousands – literally – of applications each year so they have seen all kinds of interesting scenarios. They carefully review applications looking for students who will add something unique to their incoming freshman class. However, there are 4 red flags that raise eyebrows in the admissions office, and if your application falls into these piles, make sure you explain the situation in your essays, on the application form, or in an interview.
#1: GPA and SAT/ACT scores don’t match.
Colleges expect students with high GPAs to do well on their SAT/ACT, and likewise, those with low GPAs to have low SAT/ACT scores. But when a student has a high GPA with really low SAT/ACT scores, they’ll wonder why.
#2: Attended more than 2 high schools
Colleges wonder if a student who bounces from school to school will continue that pattern once they’re admitted to college. When students transfer to new schools mid semester, admissions officers may be concerned about student behavior and stability.
#3: Minimal or too many extracurricular activities.
College is a social institution and students are encouraged to join clubs, athletic teams, and/or the arts. When student resumes are thin, admissions officers may wonder why. On the other hand, students who claim to be president of 4 clubs, MVP of 3 sports, and work 20 hours per week, raise red flags because it’s impossible to dedicate quality time to that many activities.
#4: Essays sound too good to be true.
College application essays are expected to be written by teenagers, not 50-something adults. When essays are written with a sophisticated philosophy (one developed over decades), admissions officers know that parents or tutors have heavily edited or even written them. Sometimes jargon, descriptions, and even dated metaphors are dead giveaways that the essays were not written by the students themselves.
If your application raises red flags, you won’t be admitted. So, explain any ambiguous situations to avoid the reject pile. Just read your application with fresh eyes before you submit it, and if you find areas where your response did not satisfy the question, call the admissions office to inquire about how to present your circumstances. They’ll appreciate your honesty and sincere interest in getting in.
Good luck! If you need help with your college applications, we’re here to help.