Most applicants have credentials, few have substance.
"Hans, I don't understand why my son was deferred while his best friend with a lower GPA was accepted."
I hear this all too often this time of year. The presumption that GPA stands alone as the primary qualifier for admissions is a pure fallacy.
SAT/ ACT tests- applying "test-optional" is a major compromiser of a student's credentials. A 3.65 GPA coupled with a 1400 SAT, or 31 ACT, is a far superior applicant than is a 3.80 GPA applying test-optional.
Rigor- a 3.65 unweighted GPA with 5 AP classes that give it a 4.05 weighted GPA (rigor value-.40) is a superior applicant over a 3.80 unweighted GPA with zero rigor value.
GPA, test-scores, and rigor values are three quick upfront variables that can be assessed within one minute of opening an application. These variables represent the initial academic credentials for which admission counselors will use to make a quick decision in disfavor of an applicant...and why not? You would do the same if you were them.
A favorable decision requires more than that.
State Universities will primarily make decisions based on an applicant's academic credentials along with their choice of major and state of residence. They need to fill majors and courses, along with adhering to "state-resident" policy. Their decision can be made in under two minutes allowing them to move quickly to the next application.
Private schools will look much deeper into an application before a favorable decision can be made. However, they too can make a quick decision in disfavor of an applicant if the initial credentials do not meet the college standards.
Upon the applicant passing through the initial evaluation, the process will move into the Activities, Common App Essay, and Supplemental Essay sections of the application for consideration.
They will look for and evaluate a student's substance from which they will make an admissions decision.
Herein lies the challenges and frustrations of colleges. It's not credentials that applicants lack, rather, it's their substance!
While student's credentials are on them to build, their perceived "substance" is on me. Let's see how.
Substance reflects upon a student's
- deep internal passions, meaningful interests, and purposeful activities
- experiences, community involvement, and global-mindedness
- mindset to learn from the perspective of others
- ability to write and verbalize their interests
- contribute towards a community-culture
- willingness to live outside their comfort zone.
This forms the foundation for a student to have and demonstrate real substance. It's what colleges look for in their applicants. It's a precursor for graduates to demonstrate value to possible employers!
All told, substance is a predictor of a student's realistic likelihood to succeed in achieving their true ambitions and internal desires; driven by an authentic and meaningful purpose; having the experiences, personal skills, and mindful approach to support it.
Substance is a really big deal. It's also the most common missing component in college applicants.