You are looking at the competitive college admissions wrong.

Competitive colleges NEVER emphasize one item more than another. They look at your overall character.

That means EVERYTHING. But that doesn’t mean you need to be good at everything but you continue to develop your character and manage student basic responsibilities such as school attendance and class performance.

Instead of thinking about that whether SAT or GPA is what colleges want to see, I want you to think about what do YOU want to show colleges?

For examples:

  • If your GPA is not good because of bad class choices or teachers, but you are confident with your academic ability, score high on your SAT and prove it.
  • If you are not good at test-taking but do well in a classroom setting then talk to your teachers for extra credit or seek improvement from time to time to get a good GPA.

More importantly, think that every student only has 24 hours a day.

No one is going to be The capital/chair/president of something + 4.0 GPA + 1600 SAT and neither do you. Colleges do not expect to see that either (that often means the student got A LOT of help and that usually backstabs them)

Take a look at the list below and develop a character that you are comfortable building:


  1. Go through each item and write down what has been accomplished or aim to accomplish this year
    • If you know the information then record it.
    • If you have not thought about or you will do in the future then write down the time you are going to work on it.
  2. Depending on your grade level, count how many years you have until your graduation from high school. For example, if you are a starting sophomore then you have three years.
  3. Go through each item again and write down what do you think you can achieve in the number of years you have left in high school.
    • If you are not sure about it or you are unable to think of a concrete idea, just brainstorming notes are fine


  • Academic Record:
    • GPA
    • Class Rank (if any)
    • Rigor of Curriculum (AP/Honor)
  • Standardized Test Scores:
    • SAT
    • ACT
    • SAT2
    • AP Exam
    • Other
  • Engagement Outside of the Classroom:
    • Extra-Curricular Activities
    • Community Service
    • Work Experience or Creative Project
    • Other
  • Personal Qualities:
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • College Essays (Theme)
    • Counselor Interview Report
    • Other
  • Hooks and Institutional Priorities:
    • Legacy Connection
    • Donation Potential
    • Underrepresented Ethnicity
    • Socioeconomic/
    • Geographic Background
    • Exceptional Talents
    • Level of Interest