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Top Ten Factors Influencing College Admissions

Doing College helps students cultivate the top factors that influence college admission decisions:

1. Challenging high school curriculum. Colleges take into account the number and quality of courses offered in the high school environment.  They look for students who take advantage of what is offered, and even go beyond what is available to pursue their interests and aspirations.

2. Good grades, especially in college preparatory coursework. Colleges also look for a consistent, preferably upward trend in both rigor and grades.  They look at AP exam scores too.

3. Solid test scores on the SAT/ACT and SAT Subject Tests. In addition to good grades, colleges look for strong SAT and/or ACT test scores; some colleges require or recommend SAT Subject Tests.

4. Meaningful involvement in extracurricular activities with demonstrated leadership.  Depth, not breadth, is most important.  We can suggest new activities, and show you how to leverage existing ones.

5. Well-conceived and well-written essays.  Strong reflective writing provides admissions readers with insights into the student's unique personality, values and aspirations.

6. A well-integrated application and strong, cohesive student profile.  Doing College teaches the student how to use every part of the application to his or her best advantage.

7. Strong letters of recommendation from academic subject teachers and school guidance counselor. A good impression is created by concrete illustrations of the student's unique skills and positive character traits in the high school environment, and especially in the classroom.  Students can control a great deal of this part of their application, if they have good advice and take the initiative early.

8. Interviews that support the student's strength and good character.  Interview preparation can help support the application immensely, whether the interview is evaluative or informational in nature. 

9. Demonstrated, sincere interest in a college's mission and programs of interest.  Interest is conveyed through well-researched, sincere responses to supplemental questions on college applications.  These responses are increasingly important in today's competitive admission environment.

10. Proof of a good match between student and college.  The student who makes a convincing presentation of the match between him or her and the college is a strong applicant.  Doing College teaches students how to make the match by developing a focused college list, visiting targeted campuses, planning an overnight or weekend stay, attending regional presentations, opting for optional interviews, and much more.

Contact Doing College for more information. We offer educational consulting services to students and their parents in Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda California as well as nationally and internationally.


"I'll be attending University of Washington in the fall! I'm really excited and grateful for all the time and energy you put into helping me get to this point.  Thanks again for everything! Couldn't have done it without you!"

Becca Crisp
U of Washington
Class of 2017

"Elizabeth LaScala was the most influential and supportive person in my college search and application process. I had a difficult time during my junior year of high school balancing elite sports obligations and academic expectations. Sadly, the situation hurt my grades. I felt hopeless and my dreams of attending a fine university were crushed. I contacted Elizabeth and her help was beyond anything that I could have possibly gotten anywhere else. Because of her guidance, I am enrolled at Stanford University with a swimming scholarship. With her support I have opportunities today that I never would have dreamed possible."

Olivia Morgan
Stanford University

"After helping Olivia get into Stanford, Elizabeth is now working with our second daughter, Victoria. Elizabeth has a special way with children. She is exciting and fun to work with. She knows how to uplift children's spirits and motivate them to do their best. She is enthusiastic, yet disciplined in the way she works. She really cares and my daughter knows it. We think anyone who has the opportunity to work with Elizabeth should do it and do it before problems develop. If you want your children to succeed, and who doesn't, we would strongly recommend they work with Elizabeth for academic counseling and college advising early on in the high school years."


Dale and Alan Morgan
Daughter, Olivia
Stanford University
Daughter, Victoria
UC Santa Cruz