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The Road to Your Dream School

For many high school students, the weight of college hangs above their head. Between GPA, SAT scores, essays, class rigor, and extracurriculars, it's hard to tell what factors will put you in the best place come time for applications. 


According to our very own Mrs. Ulbrich, standardized test scores are once again increasing in importance. While a few years ago many universities were going test-optional or even getting rid of the SAT all together, now things are reversing in favor of this objective test. Luckily, there are many ways for students to boost their scores. On the College Board’s website, there are many resources, like digital practice tests, to coaches and tutors, to test locations and dates. 


The University of Michigan is very selective, and because of this has a very rigorous selection process. While it expects its students to be academically excellent, Michigan looks beyond that for students who demonstrate superior engagement, talent, and skill. 


Admissions officers prioritize a blend of academic prowess, extracurricular engagement, leadership, and diverse life experiences in prospective students. While academic prowess is expected, they seek individuals who exhibit intellectual curiosity, innovative thinking, and a fervor for personal growth. Their admissions process is a comprehensive evaluation of each applicant, ensuring fairness and accuracy through multiple evaluators. The average UMich student in 2023 had a GPA of 3.9-4.0, an SAT of 1350-1530, and an ACT of 31-34. 


Legacy status holds no sway at the University of Michigan, another pattern which can be seen among more and more universities.


Michigan State University holds a similar place of academic prestige in Michigan, though with significantly more achievable admissions standards. In 2023, MSU admitted 9,371 new students who had an average SAT of 1210, ACT of 27 and an average GPA of 3.8. MSU focuses on having well rounded students who have demonstrated that they push themselves academically by challenging themselves with AP, IB and Honors colleges when they are available.


Grand Valley State University is another popular college among Hackett students. GVSU is significantly less selective, with a 92% acceptance rate. Grand Valley has a high opinion on well-rounded and involved students. They love seeing students with multiple extra-curriculars and achievements. The average admitted SAT is 1150 and the average ACT is 24. The average GPA is 3.4. To set you apart, getting recommendation letters is key. 


Hope College, a much smaller school than the ones listed above and also private, boasts a similarly well-respected admissions process. With an 80% acceptance rate and average GPA of 3.7, Hope’s size doesn’t diminish their academic prowess. They have an average admitted SAT score of 1200 and ACT score of 26. Hope admits students who have good grades, and challenge themselves with difficult classes. AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment classes stand out in applicants and will better the chance if gaining admission.


Applying to college can be a stressful and overwhelming process, but if you know what colleges look for, it can be much more simple. Good grades, high test scores, difficult classes, and a multitude of extracurricular activities are the main desires of a college’s admission department. These along with a well written essay will give you the best chance to be accepted to your dream school.


Written by Charles Gordon and Nick Doerr


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