3 Surprising Factors for Getting Accepted Into Your Dream College

3 Surprising Factors for Getting Accepted Into Your Dream College

You’ve probably heard how important GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and stellar college essays are in the college admissions game.

As a parent, you’re doing a fantastic job providing all the resources and tutors for your child. I want to applaud you for supporting your child in unimaginable ways!

To help you out even more, I’m going to share 3 surprising factors you most likely overlook or don’t pay too much attention to. Let’s get started.  

Surprising Factor #1: How curious is your son/daughter?


Colleges love to see when applicants demonstrate intellectual curiosity.

Curiosity is not simply taking AP and IB courses and aiming for A’s.

Curiosity is not trying to get the best SAT/ACT scores (because let’s face it…that’s what other tens and thousands of applicants will try to demonstrate anyways)

Curiosity is not volunteering at the hospital to simply accumulate hours.

Curiosity begins from personal interest and a passionate desire to learn more, and in turn using that knowledge to solve problems, tackle challenges, write a blog post, start a podcast, create an organization, start a club, and the list goes on.

Surprising Factor #2: How kind is your son/daughter?

In 2016, Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report, Turning The Tide. Colleges are assessing students’ ethical engagement and contributions to others. College admissions is not always about winning and accumulating certificates and awards.  

“High school students often perceive colleges as simply valuing their achievements, not their responsibility for others and their communities” – Turning the Tide Executive Summary

Surprising Factor #3: How forgiving is your son/daughter?

Colleges understand that high school students are not perfect. I mean… even as adults, we all know that striving for perfection is impossible. That’s life — we come across challenges, and we learn and grow from them.

When high school students encounter setbacks and challenges such as…

  • Getting a D on Biology Chapter Test
  • Receiving rejection letters from internships or summer programs
  • Feeling incompetent because everyone else seems to be smarter than you

With these challenges, your son/daughter needs to learn to forgive. To accept. To grow. To take action. Don’t give up.  

You can’t blame your circumstances.

You can’t just say — Well, that’s the way I am.

Colleges want to see students who are forgiving and resilient.

And without a doubt, your child can be that person too. (It just requires a bit of a mindset shift)  


By Julie Kim Ed.M Harvard University