Even though most of our readers are probably in college already, here’s an article for those who haven’t quite gotten there yet. USAToday College published a list of the top five items that colleges look at when examining a student’s college application. Though the list isn’t anything unexpected, it’s a good thing to think about as you’re applying to colleges.

1. Grades - More important than SAT scores apparently, having good grades is the best way to get you noticed by colleges. If you’re only an average student right now and you’re looking at some higher caliber schools, you need to start pulling those grades up now. Even just one semester can improve your GPA and chances to get into the school of your choice.

2. SAT Scores - I seriously dislike that the SAT counts so much in college applications since some students (such as myself) simply don’t test well on standardized tests. But SAT scores are ranked as the second most important item that colleges look at. If you test well, you’re good to go. If you’re like me and only test average at best, you’re going to want to really bolster your application with good grades.

3. Personal Statement - This is when being a good writer comes in handy. Make every word you say matter. Put your personality in it. Get straight to the point. It’s your first chance to really make a personable impression on the admissions office, so make sure you come off strong and memorable.

4. Extracirricular Activities - The thing to note about this is that being involved does not mean that you’re involved with every organization that your school offers. It is much better to be truly invested in two or three activities or organizations than to spread yourself too thin. Being invested in an organization means that you will have time to dedicate to move up the ranking. In other words, instead of just being a member in 10 organizations, you can be the president of one organization, secretary of another, and board member of another.

5. Teacher Recommendations - Teachers are the people who know you best academically. They know exactly what you are capable of. Be judicious in who you choose to ask for your recommendations. You want to paint a picture of yourself that gets your best sides. Choose teachers to whom you have provided your best work.

What do you think of this list? Let us know in the comments!

[via USAToday College]

[Photo courtesy of cassieleighphotography. Licensed under CC BY-2.0.]