St. Michael's High School

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College Readiness » College Acceptance Criteria

College Acceptance Criteria

The majority of colleges use similar criteria when making admission decisions, but each college differs in how much weight it places on the various criteria. For instance, some colleges use standardized test scores for admissions while others use these scores to determine course placement. Criteria for college acceptance includes the following: 

  • Courses completed and the academic rigor of those courses
  • Grade point average (GPA)
  • Class rank
  • ACT/SAT scores
  • Recommendations
  • Activities/Awards
  • Personal essays
  • Interviews


The most important criteria for most colleges remains consistent: which courses students take in high school and how well they do in those courses.

Four-year colleges recommend that students take, as a minimum, the following courses in high school:

  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of Math (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II)
  • 4 years of Science
  • 2-3 years of (the same) Foreign Language
  • 3 years of Social Science (World History, U.S. History, Government, Economics)
  • 1 year of Fine Arts (Visual Art, Music, Dance)