Ask a rep - What counts in a college application?

The college application process can be compared to a big family dinner, where your grades are the turkey and the rest is just gravy.

Ask a rep - What counts in a college application?

Have questions about your college application? We asked an expert!

Q:What counts when applying to college?

A: Thinking about how things like GPA, SAT/ACT scores, essays and letters of recommendations all affect the college admissions process got me thinking about a big family dinner.

You’re probably wondering the question, “What does a big meal possibly have to do with college selection?” Let’s compare some of the things that students do in high school to preparing a turkey dinner.

First and foremost, you must have a turkey. When the day is all said and done, people will remember the meal mostly by the quality of the main course. Just imagine what would happen if you ran out of turkey!

Well, the turkey is your high school GPA. It is the most important thing for your college application. Would you hire yourself as a college student if you failed your job of high school math?

Your extracurricular activities are the gravy. Gravy is a great thing when the turkey is done well, but not even the best gravy can cover up a bad bird. Likewise, lots of activities can’t cover up for poor performance in the classroom; they can only enhance the college application of a quality student. If you find yourself doing lots of activities but not so much studying, you may want to refocus your attention to your academics.

Standardized tests are like stuffing—you’re not quite sure how it is made, but it can enhance the meal.

Recommendations, essays and other such things are all good as long as they are “homemade,” meaning they’re done by you, not corrected by five teachers and Mom.

Question: Is your GPA weak? Go for an in-person interview dressed for success. Let them meet the individual behind the college application, and be prepared to have a conversation about your pursuit of learning.

Understand how the admissions process works, and you’ll have an appetizing college experience.

Bill Sliwa is vice president for enrollment management at Maryville College
( in Maryville, Tenn.


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