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10 Basic Elements of a Complete College Application

Posted by Scott Fuller on 1/31/19 6:52 AM

What Does a Competitive College Application Actually Look Like?

When tackling the college admissions process, it's important to have a good understanding of the elements of a traditional, complete application. After all, a well-rounded application is incredibly important for sharing a holistic reflection of your talents, passion to learn, and drive to succeed.

Here is a quick overview of what your college application could include.

Check out our interactive, digital toolkit - The One-Stop College Application  Shop - for everything you need to know about applying to college!  <https://cta-service-cms2.hubspot.com/ctas/v2/public/cs/c/?cta_guid=f027b344-b531-4531-b960-bc3953a4e026&placement_guid=38335ae2-d1db-47e6-b930-4a14140ef717&portal_id=436837&redirect_url=APefjpEPSh6VjtouMKagHNDTNz4iASMZFTwysSFDq5H4bpglm5LgAzwIiVGKHNtXVpjdlzYfIa0gRmoNJvYAOs7NuIwZhrfcTNRN3ntibPRNNMfBZlRMIUDs2JTcZC_HZr8L8iWXKTVTIDHDCbkQoi0si9cfHppVLkmA37V02jnHcepBXMiPXwZegQicvwhFFU6QvVq-71PPYRD9IGuBxmMlGGcdI3LfYghXr-F4xQsJVFRc7rOi1I0hewMx6w1ZC1gODloyc9R_vODNbn8xi1cTJeGp1UBL_nr1ucS5T-2xI0RklEivDKLE560b7vy8voMeqaazLDdE&hsutk=c8fb270025449f45aa3f40f606429fbf&canon=https%3A%2F%2Flearn.marymount.edu%2Fblog%2Fattention-transfer-students-7-things-to-do-before-transferring-to-marymount-university&click=278d6c0e-930a-4ffe-b5db-3aa1c4c6c4cc&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Flearn.marymount.edu%2Fblog&pageId=5356208071&__hstc=94389827.c8fb270025449f45aa3f40f606429fbf.1458659446835.1510945380786.1511187002872.1077&__hssc=94389827.16.1511187002872&__hsfp=436238590>


1. Official Transcript/Class Rank

This is an opportunity to accurately show your course rigor and how you managed the workload and intensity amongst peers.

2. Writing Sample/Statement of Purpose

Why do you want to go to college? While some colleges and universities will provide you with a prompt or standard of expectation, this is your opportunity to let your unique personality shine.

3. Letters of Recommendation

Having two or three community leaders and/or mentors write you a letter of recommendation is a great way to show the positive impact you have made in your community through a different perspective. Try to only ask the people who know you best — a teacher, coach, club advisor, or even a youth pastor.

4. List of Extracurricular Activities

This includes clubs, sports, student council, etc. Were you a leader in any of these areas? Note that in your application!

5. Community Service/Outside Learning Opportunities

Were you on a travel athletic team alongside your high school team? Note that. Did you pet puppies on the weekend? Note that. Big brother? Big sister? Note everything. Community service and outside learning opportunities are a great way to show your commitment to a well rounded personal development.

6. Awards and Recognition

Were you voted MVP? Class president? Most likely to succeed? Don’t be afraid to brag on yourself — let the admissions people know how your hard work has been recognized.

7. Note Diversity (if applicable)

Colleges are always striving to increase the diversity on campus. If your culture is important to you, let them know!

8. Note Legacy (if applicable)

Does your family already have a strong relationship with the school? This is by no means a guarantee of acceptance, but it doesn't hurt to mention.

9. Prepare for an Interview

As an intention to get to know applicants on a more personal and professional level, some colleges or universities may request an interview prior to making an acceptance decision. To better understand what a college requires, be sure to contact their admissions department.

10. Standardized Test Scores (if applicable!)

Most colleges accept standardized test scores from either the SAT, ACT, or AP exam. However, every college is different in terms of score and format. For example, while the SAT and ACT both offer an optional writing portion, it is not required by every university. Before signing up for any test, be sure to do some initial research on what is required by your top universities of choice.

Marymount's Test-Optional Admissions Choice:

Marymount University no longer requires ACT or SAT test scores from high school applicants with a grade point average of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0, providing an admissions alternative to students who don’t think their scores adequately reflect their academic achievement or potential.

"It will allow for a more holistic view of a student’s academic achievement and attract a broader pool of qualified, interested students who have a strong record of academic success in high school." —Francesca Reed, Associate VP of Enrollment Management

Note: Standardized test scores will still be required from those applying for certain programs, such as Honors, Physical Therapy, Clare Booth Luce, and Forensic and Legal Psychology Scholars. Home schooled applicants will also be asked to submit test scores.

We hope you'll request more information today!

Do you have standardized test anxiety? We get it, and that's why we put together a resource page to help you prepare: Everything You Need to Know About Standardized Tests for College Admissions. 

Explore the Resource

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Posted by Scott Fuller

Scott is a Web Content Manager at Marymount. He enjoys sharing information about Marymount on social Media, editing photos in Photoshop, and seeing students grow academically and professionally while at MU. In his free time, Scott if a self-proclaimed nerd and enjoys reading science journals and non-fiction books, science fiction and fantasy novels, and playing strategy games.

Topics: College Application & Admissions Tips

About this blog

This blog is intended for high school and transfer students going through the college application process. From scholarship application tips to making the most of campus visits, we hope to give you the tools you need to pick the best institution for higher education — and make getting to that decision a little less stressful and a little more fun.

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