Common College Admission Questions

CollegeRFarrisCommon College Admission Questions

Here is a sample of commonly asked college admissions questions:

  • At what age should a student apply to college?

Students should apply to college in the fall semester of their senior year.

  • What do colleges look for on a college application?

All colleges and universities evaluate the same basic criteria, such as GPA, class rank, SAT and/or ACT scores, leadership ability and extra-curricular activities. It stands out when student shows initiative or commitment to an activity over a period of years.

  • Should I take the PSAT, SAT and ACT exams?

Yes. The PSAT is administered each October.  The SAT and ACT exams have five or six testing dates throughout the year.  Students should take a PSAT as a junior. Doing so is good practice for the SAT and may qualify them for a National Merit Scholarship.   The more times a student can take a timed, standardized practice test, the better they will perform on the actual SAT and/or ACT.

A student should take their first SAT/ACT at the end of their junior year or, if offered, during the summer between your junior and senior years.  Some colleges and universities require specific scores on the SAT/ACT to qualify for admissions. Be aware of these scores and prepared to retake the SAT/ACT if needed.

  • How does a student’s course selection affect his acceptance into college?

Colleges want to know that the applicant is “college ready” and will successfully complete their education. A student needs to take the most rigorous courses available to them.  Acceptance decisions are usually based on the quality of academic preparation in high school.

Admission officers at competitive colleges look beyond GPA and test scores and evaluate the pattern of course work, the rigor of classes (Honors, Advanced Placement, Dual Credit) and sequence of academic courses. They also look at the senior-year schedule.  Admission officers are very aware of the “senior slide.”

  • Should I take the hard AP Class and get a “C” or the easy class and get the “A”?

You should take the hard AP class and get an “A”!  College admissions can be very competitive. Taking anything but the most advanced course work and making the best grades will put you at a disadvantage. And besides, you are supposed to be preparing for college… Right?

  • Does the admission application for a service academy differ from that of a college? If so, how?

Yes. Applying to any of the service academies is extremely competitive. A service academy application is different in that: (a) the application is available the spring semester of the student’s junior year instead of the fall of the student’s senior year; (b) a student  is required to apply for a nomination from his congressman and/or senator as well as the vice president; and (c) a cadet must pass a physical fitness test.  The only academy not requiring a nomination is the United States Coast Guard Academy.

If admitted, the tuition at a military academy is covered by the United States government. After graduation, you become an officer in the military and must serve a determined length of time on active duty.

  • Are there websites that explain how to get into college?

One of the most comprehensive college admissions websites is This website offers career assessments, college major matching, college information, financial aid information, SAT practice tests and information for parents and guardians.  is a virtual “one-stop” college exploration and application website, and it is extremely user friendly.


Robin Farris is a College Admissions Advisor at the Marine
Military Academy in Harlingen, TX.  MMA is an all boys private college
preparatory boarding school. For more information about MMA visit our