Regional College Access Center

Understanding admissions requirements

Nadir says: I had good grades in high school, so I wasn't worried about meeting requirements when I applied to college. But I was worried about my lack of extracurriculars. Along with other stuff, colleges look at your record of activities outside of classes.

I never did student government, or volunteer work, or sports. I thought that would hurt my application, but I got in anyway. I guess there's no magic formula for admissions.

What are college admissions requirements and what do they mean to you?

Many colleges and universities have minimum requirements for admission. These are the things that they expect from all applicants: test scores above a certain number on the SAT or ACT; a high school GPA above some other number; high scool courses that cover specific subjects. That kind of thing. If you discover that you don't meet all the requirements for a school that you would like to attend, give their admissions department a call or email. They may tell you that you should still apply!

Some schools refuse to list specific requirements, especially with regard to test scores and high school grade point averages. The idea here is that you, the student, are more than just numbers on a page—your interests, personality, background, dedication and ambition are also relevant to the admissions process. These schools often show ranges of scores instead, so that you can still get a sense of whether you're a good academic fit. If you're not sure whether the numbers you see are requirements or just suggested guidelines, contact the school directly to ask.

University Program Admission Requirements

*Phew*! So you're in the clear. You meet the requirements for your college or university of your choice. But wait, have you checked to see whether there are additional requirements for the specific program or degree that you're interested in?

That's right, individual departments (or individual colleges within a larger university) can have their own requirements. For example, if you are considering majoring in nursing, you might be expected to have completed specific science classes in high school. If you have a degree in mind, contact the school and ask if there are additional requirements for admission to that program.