While there is no clear-cut pathway to college, a recent survey of college admission officers indicate that some factors do matter more than others, according to the infographic “College Admissions: What Really Matters?”
A universal factor was performance in college-prep courses, with 83.4% of respondents assigning “Considerable Weight” towards grades earned in such courses when making admission decisions.
College-prep courses are of course only part of an overall curriculum, so admission officers also look at the overall picture here–both performance in such courses, and the nature of the broader “body of coursework” itself.
While SAT and ACT scores are traditionally thought of as heavy factors, this infographic suggests that they mainly act as criteria to meet. That is, you need a minimum score to be considered, but your admission thereafter is more strongly influenced by your performance in tough, college-like courses (which makes sense).
The relatively low weight assigned to essay writing is interesting, especially in light of how much focus K-12 standards place on such work.
Featured image source: Alabama A&M University