What Colleges Look for in High School Student Transcripts

Because college admissions are more competitive than ever, an accepted application often comes down to the details. For instance, high school transcripts are an excellent way for students to positively differentiate themselves from other applicants. But what exactly are colleges looking for in a transcript, other than good grades?

·       It’s All About Balance

You and your student should consider a holistic approach to course selection. While your child may favor history courses over science, his or her transcript should display a willingness to explore and master a range of disciplines. Not only does a balanced transcript indicate broad academic capability, it also demonstrates a willingness to be challenged. Students with specialized academic talents should feel free to explore their favorite subjects, just not at the expense of a balanced academic course load.

·       Consider the Context

In addition to GPA and course selection, admissions committees also consider the curriculum offered by a student’s high school. If your student’s high school offers a wide range of AP or IB courses, he or she should take advantage of the most challenging courses available. However, different schools require and offer different courses, and students applying to college will have their transcripts assessed with access in mind.

·       Keep Rigor in Mind

Just as balance is important in course selection, level of difficulty is also a key component in a competitive high school transcript. Succeeding in rigorous, high-level courses—from upper division math and language classes, to AP and IB courses—clearly conveys a student’s readiness for college, as well as his or her ability to manage and prepare for a challenge; both are attributes that college admission committees seek.

·       Stay Consistent

College admission committees like to see students ascend the ranks of a discipline, so be sure that your student follows through on math, science, English, and history courses from freshman year through senior year, graduating to a higher level of difficulty as he or she goes. Also keep in mind that colleges use transcripts to confirm a student’s track record through senior year, so don’t let your child coast along in the home stretch—his or her transcript will show it. At Achieve Academics, we understand the demanding, detail-oriented nature of college admissions. From prepping for the SAT/ACT to brushing up on academic basics, we provide a range of small group classes, plus one-on-one tutoring, to ensure that your child demonstrates his or her strongest self when it’s time to apply to college. As you and your child work to sure up his or her transcript and course selections, keep in mind that you don’t have to do it all alone—we offer strategic, tailor-made academic resources for students of all learning styles and goals.