Every year the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) publishes a survey of what factors are most important in their admissions decisions. Every year the results are pretty much the same.
As much as any college consultant would like to assure you that they can help you get admitted to your first-choice college, the reality is that the most important aspect of your college application is your transcript, followed by (yes, even at test-optional schools) your test scores.
If you think about it, colleges are making a bet on you. The bet is not just about their statistics (how many students transfer), but it is also a financial decision. If you leave, will XYZ college be able to fill the spot you create in the second-semester freshman class? What is the cost associated with filling that spot, versus choosing a student who will be academically prepared and at a minimal risk of transferring to another school?
Colleges want to know that you will be able to do the work they assign and you will be able to stay at XYZ for the four (or six) years they expect you to remain until you graduate. The transcript is an indication of whether you can do the work. While the transcript is considered the most important part of the application process, all transcripts are NOT created equal. One way colleges better understand the transcript is by reviewing your high school’s profile. This profile is typically sent to your prospective colleges with your transcript.
Curious to see what is actually on your high school profile? It most likely can be found on the district website but you can also ask your guidance counselor. Here are a couple of helpful tips when studying your school profile:
1) the GPA bell curve tells you if there is grade inflation.
2) the class list allows the admissions officer to understand whether the student is taking the most challenging course of study offered (like Advanced Placement) or a lower level course of study.
If you have not downloaded and reviewed your school profile, now is the time to do so. An honest look at your transcript studied alongside your school profile will help to avoid any unnecessary surprises.
For more information, read this blog on top factors in college admissions.