Quality matters when it comes to college admissions


Photo courtesy of Kat Matthews

Extracurricular activities are good for balance, but strong academics are key to getting into college.

“There’s actually no ultimate factor,” said Beatriz Gutierrez, assistant director of admission. “For us we implement a holistic approach, so we’re looking at everything that the student has to offer.”

She said a student’s GPA is good indicator of how successful the student will be in college.

”When I’m reviewing an application, I’m looking for a student that has that grit of working really hard,” Gutierrez said. She wants to see how a student will make the most of a situation they are in.

In the fall of 2016, the latest statistics available, 11,700 people applied to TCU. Of those, 4,468 or 38 percent, were accepted, according to TCU Office of Institutional Research. The composite SAT score for the applicant pool has hovered in the 1700s for several years; the ACT composite has averaged around 27.

She said students who pad their resumes with lots of activity should remember that most colleges pay little attention to the number of activities. Instead, they focus on the quality of them, she said.

For example, Donald Peterson, a junior at TCU, said when he was in high school, he volunteered at a hospital because he hopes to go to medical school. But he said, his grades were what got him admitted to TCU.

“Everyone comes to college with the mindset that I need to get good grades and the grades are what’s going to get my foot in the door,” Peterson said.  

Alexa Calcagno, a sophomore at TCU, also said “For [her] it was definitely academics, but [she] was also very busy activity wise.”

Another factor to bring into consideration is that colleges pay little attention to the amount of activities you’re enrolled in, but the quality of them.

Even when trying to transfer from a community college into universities, Gutierrez emphasized that the GPA shouldn’t be neglected as it does continue to help universities track your progress, while activities will give personality to your application.